Tonight, I found myself frustrated. It has been a long, emotional week…
On Saturday, the fourth of July, my 33-year-old husband suffered an NSTEMI heart attack. While he survived with little damage and is recovering well, the fact that I have now watched my husband fly off in a flight for life helicopter three times has taken its toll on my emotions for the week. We are business owners and Jeremy is under strict orders to take it easy, so the pressures of trying to keep him from doing too much were exhausting; but I also didn’t want to confuse our employees with jobs or direction I didn’t know enough about, so I reluctantly had to allow my husband to resume some of his responsibilities. This in itself was enough to make me constantly worry that he was already doing too much. I am also a doctoral student finishing up my final class before my dissertation begins and I had two huge assignments due by the end of this week, so those commitments overloaded me as well. I’m preparing for my new job teaching at the University of Nebraska at Kearney in August and felt as though I have not yet prepared enough.
No, I’m not trying to give you an “I’m busier than you” speech. I’m showing you first-hand where my enormous mistake this week came in. Did you find anything in the above paragraph mentioning the fact that I am a full-time mother of two handsome boys? No, you didn’t. And that is where I have failed this week.
I have been so busy worrying about life that I neglected to truly remember the two people who make life worth living.
No, I didn’t forget that I’m a mother. It’s a full-time job. It is impossible to forget. Yes, I fed them and bathed them, allowed them to play, and made sure they were not trying to destroy each other (remember, they are two boys, ages 8 and 6). Battles and bruises are common. Sledding down enormous piles of mulch is a daily occurrence since we own a nursery and landscaping business; bloody noses happen as a result from time to time. Attempts to make the other brother so mad that he is forced to retaliate and get in trouble happen often. In a nutshell, I’m a mom of boys. But I truly do love being a mom of boys. So even though I didn’t forget I’m a mother, I neglected to remember how young they still are.
In the evenings, after the mud has settled in the bottom of the bathtub and tummies are full from our evening snack, our boys begin to show the sides of their personalities that not everyone is blessed to see. Hudson is a budding artist; he will watch daddy (another artist) paint and will copy every move. He will find pictures on the Internet to copy and will immediately run to daddy and I for approval, often begging me to take a picture of him and his creations to splash on Facebook. Asher is a tender-hearted snuggle-bug. He loves to brush my hair at night until it is so soft that I look like a Q-tip when I stand up (I’m a curly haired redhead, so brushing only causes frizzing to oblivion). He also loves to draw, color, and especially to work on his numbers and letters lately as he will begin Kindergarten this Fall.
The week was busy and I have been attached to technology trying to get everything accomplished that “had” to be done. So tonight, after thankfuls and prayers (nighttime bed routine in our home), I had two boys emerge from their bedrooms and stand at the base of our bed.
“Mommy, we’re scared. Can we sleep in here?”
I got frustrated. “This HAS to stop. You have done this every night since Sunday. Either one or both of you has been in here every night saying you are scared! What is there to be afraid of?”
Oh. I think I just answered my own question – “…since Sunday.”
It didn’t matter the response. My asking our boys out loud what there is to be afraid of created an answer in my own mind. Yes, they are saying that they are either afraid of the storm this week or the fact that children were abducted and they saw it on the news. Maybe they were afraid of the monster on the Disney Channel show we watched tonight. Or perhaps there was a monster in the closet. All good answers to cover up the real fear – the one I’m afraid of, so why wouldn’t they be?
So I get to be a voice for my children. I figured it out tonight, and I feel horrible that I didn’t understand it sooner. Our children are giving us silent cries for help.
Daddy almost left us again. And we woke up at mamma and papa’s house being told mommy and daddy left to go the the hospital again. They took daddy on a helicopter ride. Again. We pray mommy and daddy will be home soon, but until then, we will stay safe and sound with mamma and papa…again.
My parents are wonderful, and they are certainly a safe place for our boys. But they aren’t mommy and daddy. Jeremy was almost killed in a car accident in 2012 and we lived in the hospital for nearly a month – away from our boys (they were 5 and 2 at the time). I have written about it here and our entire story is out there for the world in “Never Alone: A Husband and Wife’s Journey with Depression and Faith.” Jeremy was diagnosed with depression in 2009 and has survived five suicide attempts. We have learned to see the good in something terrible and we desperately want to help others struggling to understand depression, a very misunderstood brain chemical imbalance. We know that God wants us together here on this earth to spread His good; so we will continue every day to thank Him for keeping Jeremy here with us. We will help the world understand the reality of depression and God’s good and we will fight to end the stigma attached to mental illness. #projectsemicolon
Our boys know all about what daddy has been through and they love that we are trying to help others. But I think I forget sometimes how young they are. Daddy is still here, yes. But it is a lot easier for me to understand why we have been through so much than for them.
Our children just want to know that mommy and daddy will both be there when they go to sleep and that we will both still be there when they wake up. Because too many times, life hasn’t allowed us to be. And that’s not easy on a child.
Now that I figured it out, we know what we have to do. We have to start a conversation with our boys, at their level of understanding, and be sure they are okay. If their fears are too far beyond our parenting expertise (cough, cough…what expertise would that be?), then we will bring them to our family counselor. She is wonderful and did help us tremendously with our oldest after he struggled with mommy and daddy being gone so long the first time. Is it likely that our children will need a professional to help them through these emotions of nearly losing their daddy again? Yes.
So, tomorrow morning I will wake up with Asher under my feet and Hudson under daddy’s. We will yawn and stretch and give morning hugs, complete with morning breath. Then, we will begin to support one another on our journey toward healing.
Life has a way of getting in the way of truly living. And I refuse to keep letting that happen.
Our boys will understandably be just as affected, if not more affected, by the latest happenings as we are. But they need more support to cope with changes or difficulties in life than we do because their brains cannot yet process to that level of understanding and growth without help. The silent cries for help will be voiced and addressed. We will do whatever it takes to be sure our kids, our number one priority on this earth, are taken care of to the best of our abilities.
And please, parents, don’t make our mistake. Open your eyes to those silent cries for help. Our children need us to be the adults.
Learn more about Jeremy and Bailey’s story at www.jeremyandbailey.com where you can also purchase your signed paperback copy of “Never Alone: A Husband and Wife’s Journey with Depression and Faith”.