Free shipping on all orders over $75🎄

“Mom, I’m four.”

I paused with the sandwich meat in my hand just long enough to give my 15-year-old daughter a puzzled look before I carried on making school lunches one evening. She was lying on the couch in her pajamas doing absolutely nothing.

“What did you say? Oh, I need you to find your water bottle. Did you leave it at school?” I asked as I carried on with my list of things to finish for the evening. I was looking forward to chilling on the couch for a few minutes before bed, too, but first there were the lunches to pack, a permission slip for a field trip to sign, and a dishwasher to load.

“Four,” she moaned again from across the room.

“Where is your water bottle and what is four?” I asked, barely looking up from loading the dishwasher.

My husband hollered from the other room where he was putting away our clean laundry, “Honey, she is at four!”

Then it all clicked. My daughter wasn’t moving off the couch to help with her lunch or to find the missing water bottle because she was a puddle of a person. She was at level four.

My eldest daughter has anxiety and depression. The last couple of years were brutal for her as we tried multiple medications in a desperate search to find one that worked, transferred to an online school because of the anxiety but switched back to public school this spring, and started sessions with the third counselor due to staff changes.

Some days she is an average teenager asking for a ride to the movies with friends, some days she uses the TV for a distraction from life, and some days she is begging to see a doctor in hopes that they can offer her relief from the heaviness. It’s difficult for her to tell us when the dark thoughts are whispering in her head, so we often don’t find out how bad things are until she is crying at 2 a.m. in our room. Or until after she has self-harmed.

We brainstormed ways for her to tell us in faster and simpler ways. Methods that used fewer words and caused fewer questions and misunderstandings. First, we tried a code word—siren. If she texted “siren” to us at any time, we knew she was in a dark place in her head and needed us. Eventually we replaced the code word with a battery-operated doorbell. She had the button on her headboard and the speaker plugged in next to ours. One push of the button, day or night, and we were at her bed within seconds. We became faster than a single text.

Eventually we realized that arriving at the scene of the crash wasn’t enough. We needed to know when things were heading downhill before she hit the bottom. So, we recently invented our own number scale.

1= I am doing great  
2= I am having some anxiety, but I am OK    
3= I am having high anxiety and need help to calm my world     
4= I am a human puddle and can’t function       
5= I need intervention/hospital visit

That evening in the kitchen as I clued in to her use of our brand new “How am I doing” scale, the dishes and lunches plummeted on my priority list. She was a four. My daughter on the couch was a puddle of a girl and needed her mom. She needed her mom to find the water bottle herself. She needed to be walked to bed and tucked in like a small child. She needed someone to sit with her while she fell asleep. She needed to be cared for like she was only four-years-old again.

In the morning she will be a cheerful and nervous two as she starts her school day with a refreshed mind, but for now she needs her mom because she is a four.

You may also want to read:

There Is Not One Face of Depression

The Call I Should Have Made about My Depression

Want more stories of love, family, and faith from the heart of every home, delivered straight to you? Sign up here! 

 

So God Made a Mother book by Leslie Means

If you liked this, you'll love our new book, SO GOD MADE A MOTHER available now!

Order Now

Tanya Teichroeb

Tanya is a wife to a wonderful man and mother to three precious children in northern British Columbia. Tanya is learning to look for the good in the hardships and the beauty in sharing her experiences. In her spare time Tanya enjoys coffee, reading, gardening, and silence. You can follow her at https://www.facebook.com/TeensandCoffeeBeansbyTanyaTeichroeb/

Brothers Fight Hard and Love Harder

In: Kids, Motherhood
Two boys play outside, one lifting the other on his back

The last few years have been a whirlwind. My head has sometimes been left spinning; we have moved continents with three boys, three and under at the time. Set up home and remained sufficiently organized despite the complete chaos to ensure everyone was where they were meant to be on most days. Living in a primarily hockey town, the winters are filled with coffee catch-ups at the arena, so it was no surprise when my youngest declared his intention to play hockey like his school friends. Fully aware that he had never held a hockey stick or slapped a puck,...

Keep Reading

Stop Putting an Expiration Date on Making Memories

In: Kids, Motherhood
Mother and son in small train ride

We get 12 times to play Santa (if we’re lucky). This phrase stopped my scroll on a Sunday evening. I had an idea of the direction this post was going but I continued on reading. 12 spring breaks 12 easter baskets 20 tooth fairy visits 13 first days of school 1 first date 1-2 proms 1-2 times of seeing them in their graduation cap and gown 18 summers under the same roof And so on and so on. It was essentially another post listing the number of all the monumental moments that we, Lord willing, will get to experience with our...

Keep Reading

When Your Kids Ask, “Where Is God?”

In: Faith, Kids
Child looking at sunset

How do I know if the voice I’m hearing is God’s voice? When I was in high school, I found myself asking this question. My dad was a pastor, and I was feeling called to ministry. I didn’t know if I was just hearing my dad’s wish or the call of God. I was worried I was confusing the two. It turns out, I did know. I knew because I was raised to recognize the presence of God all around me. Once I knew what God’s presence felt like, I also knew what God’s voice sounded like. There is a...

Keep Reading

Go Easy On the Parents Who Refuse to Skip Naps

In: Kids, Motherhood
Two little boys and their sister walking down a gravel road, color photo

Greetings from a mom who is done with napping children. It’s great to have the flexibility during the day for longer activities, meeting friends for playdates, or day trips to faraway places. It’s a new life . . . the life without naps. The freedom to make plans and keep them. But not that long ago, I was something very different than the flexible, plan-keeping, up-for-it woman I am today. I used to be the mom who refused to skip my child’s nap. Yep, that one. Here’s the thing, for a lot of parents, It’s so much more than just a...

Keep Reading

My Heart Isn’t Ready for You to Stop Believing in Santa

In: Kids, Motherhood
Little boy standing in front of lit christmas tree

“My friend doesn’t believe in Santa anymore, Mom,” my son said out of the blue the other day. We were driving in the car, and when I met his gaze in the rear-view mirror his eyes searched mine. Immediately, my heart sank.  This sweet boy, he’s our first. Thoughtful and smart and eight years old. A quick Google search tells me that’s the average age kids stop believing in Santa, but as his mom, I’m not ready for that—not even a little bit.  I can still hear his barely 2-year-old voice going on about reindeer as we lay together on...

Keep Reading

Dear Kids, This Is My Wish for You

In: Kids, Motherhood
Mother hugs three kids

To my kids, The world you’re stepping into is unlike anything I experienced at your age. It’s fast-paced, interconnected, and sometimes overwhelming. But within this chaos lie countless opportunities for growth and joy. My wish for you is that you find the perfect balance between embracing the modern world and staying true to yourselves. Change is one thing you can always count on. Embrace it because it’s often the motivation for growth. Embracing change doesn’t mean letting go of who you are; rather, it’s about evolving into the best version of yourself. Remember, you don’t need to have all the...

Keep Reading

Motherhood is a Million Little Letting Gos and Fresh Hellos

In: Kids, Motherhood
Mother sitting with child on her lap by the setting sun and water

I missed my grocery-shopping buddy the other day. Mondays are usually the days my littlest and I knock out our grocery list. In the past, we’ve dropped the kids at school and then headed to the store. I grab a latte, and she chooses a hot chocolate. But that day, they were all in school. That day, she sat in her kindergarten class, and I went to the grocery store. Alone. A new rhythm. A changed routine. A different season. I listened to a podcast on the drive. My podcast. Then I grabbed a drink. Just one. I got the...

Keep Reading

Dear Daughter, Stay Wild

In: Kids, Motherhood
Mother and daughter on beach, color photo

I can’t really put my finger on it. Or manage to find all the words. But there’s just something about that girl. Maybe it’s the way her hair sits tangled. Curled up at the end. The way she moves. Dances. As if everyone was watching. Or no one at all. RELATED: There is Wild Beauty in This Spirited Child of Mine It could be the way she smiles. With her heart. The way only she can. The way she cares, loves. For everyone. For herself. You see, she is beautiful in the way only wild things are. The way they...

Keep Reading

You’re Becoming a Big Sister, But You’ll Always Be My Baby

In: Baby, Kids, Motherhood
Pregnant woman with young daughter, color photo

The anticipation of welcoming a new baby into the world is an exciting and joyous time for our family. From the moment we found out we were expecting to just about every day since, the love and excitement only continue to grow. However, amidst all the preparations for the new addition, I cannot help but have mixed emotions as I look back at old videos and pictures of my firstborn, my first princess, my Phoebe—for she will always hold a special place in my heart. As the anticipation grows, my heart swells with a mix of emotions knowing we are...

Keep Reading

Cowgirls Don’t Cry Unless the Horse They Loved Is Gone

In: Grief, Kids, Loss
Little girls Toy Story Jessie costume, color photo

The knee of my pants is wet and dirty. My yellow ring lays by the sink—it’s been my favorite ring for months. I bought it to match Bigfoot’s halter and the sunflowers by his pasture. Bigfoot is my daughter’s pony, and I loved him the most. The afternoon is so sunny. His hooves make the same calming rhythm I’ve come to love as I walk him out back. A strong wind blows through the barn. A stall labeled “Bigfoot,” adorned with a sunflower, hangs open and I feel sick. I kneel down by his side as he munches the grass....

Keep Reading