The Blanchard Bunch

The Blanchard Bunch

Friday, April 13, 2012

Letting Go

A few days ago, my good friend Marty posted a link to an article about 15 things you should give up to be happy. I wasn't sure what to expect, but it is a great list and all the items listed and reasons for letting them go make complete sense. I was very happy to realize that I've already given up most of the things listed and am already working on letting go of the others. Just reading through the items reminded me of just how lucky I am and how happy my life is on a day-to-day basis.

As a result of reading that article, I've been consciously paying attention to my thoughts and actions, trying to make sure they're as positive as I can make them. I've been feeling blissfully happy that I've got my "ginormous family" around me and that we're all happy and healthy (not counting the allergy issues we're all dealing with right now.)

One of the many things I love about being a mom to my kids is that they've always told me how they never want to leave home. Derrick has been plotting for years to buy one of the houses on our street so that *if* he ever decides to move out, he won't have far to go; Sissy's been on board with that plan from day one. Amanda's planning on joining the Marines, so she will be moving out at some point, but we have plenty of time to prepare for that eventuality. Chris hasn't decided what he wants to do besides be a skater and rap star, and the hobbits, being 5 and 6 at the moment, really don't have any future plans.

Then today, completely out of the blue, Sissy informed me that she has been thinking about and discussing moving away from Knoxville to get away from all the bad memories. (Those memories have nothing to do with her time here with us, but rather her life before she became a part of our family.) I have to be honest, I felt like I'd been sucker punched when I found that out. Not because she wants to be somewhere and be happy, but because we had just had a conversation less than a day before about how there was no way she could move out of state and away from her family and her home. So, to hear that she'd been thinking about  moving away and even had a few places in mind, really hurt.

One of the things I pride myself on is not controlling my children, but allowing them to make their own decisions and mistakes. If they want advice, I will happily give it. Don't get me wrong, I won't allow them to do anything illegal or immoral, but if they make a decision that will teach them a life lesson and won't cause harm to themselves or others, they are allowed to live and learn. Being happy about my children wanting to stay close to home is not about controlling them, but rather it's about knowing that we have developed such a loving bond that we are all happy being near each other. Being able to watch them continue to grow and start families of their own one day (say, 10 years down the road) is an added bonus.

When I started to recover from the shock, we talked more and she told me her decision comes from a place of fear, rather than a real desire to move away. There is a particular person here in Knoxville that has caused her great pain and suffering in the past and who can't seem to get it through their head that they are not welcome in her life anymore. For a long time, she has been able to put that experience behind her and move on and be happy, but the thought of that person finding her and trying to be a part of her life again has recently resurfaced and has made her uneasy in her own home. That's why she was thinking about moving away; to try and get away from that person and those feelings, not because she truly wants to get away from her home.

Now that we've established the reasons behind her thinking, we can work on making her feel safe again and giving her the tools she needs to be the guardian of her own safety and happiness. We can work on teaching her to let go of her fears and be the amazing person she truly is.

This has also taught me that while I thought I had no problem accepting change, when it comes to my kids leaving home for distant, or not-so-distant lands, I have a real issue with letting go. That's something I'll have to work on because I know it will happen and when it does, I want to be the mom who loves them enough to let them go and prays every day that they will one day make their way back home.

If you'd like to read the article I mentioned above, click here: 15 Things You Should Give Up to Be Happy.

Friday, April 6, 2012

The Great Depression

Like millions of people all over the world, I suffer from clinical depression. Most days I don't even think about it; I just take my medicine and go on about my day. Occasionally, I'll feel a little down and out of sorts and in need of a little "me" time or an extra hug or two from Todd and the kids to set things back in order. For the most part, my depression is very controlled and I can happily go about my day and just be me.

However, a couple of times a year, I get hit with a debilitating bout of depression and I just want to curl up in bed and sleep for hours on end. I don't want to be around ANYONE and I certainly don't want to talk. Everything upsets and irritates me and I feel like crying all the time. Things I normally wouldn't even notice become huge issues to me. Normal activities and conversation are impossible. Life is impossible. Unless you've been there yourself, I don't think anyone can truly understand what this feels like.

The answers to the usual questions about my depression can be summarized in one word: NO.
No, talking about it will not help.
No, I don't know what caused it; if I did, I would fix it. 
No, you can't fix it for me. 

Todd has been through this with me for many years now and understands (as best anyone can) what my needs are when I have these bad days. He no longer takes it personally when I say I need to be alone, or don't want to talk, or just want to sleep. Derrick is pretty good at understanding this as well, because he too suffers from depression. Our other children, God bless them, have no experience with this and don't quite understand what's going on. 

It's hard to explain why you *can't* be Mommy right now to your children, even if it's only for a few hours. Daddy is right there with them and the big kids are truly self-sufficient, so it's not like they are left alone wondering what's going on. Todd does a great job of running interference for me, and tries to explain that there is no need in them getting cranky or ugly about not being able to talk to me for a little while, but not everyone listens. They are kids, after all.

Yesterday, sadly, was one of those debilitating days. I was able to do the bare minimum to get through the day, but even that was a struggle. Just being around other people, including my wonderful kids, made me edgy and irritable. I tried taking a nap in the morning hoping that when I woke up, I'd be in a better mood. No dice. I got a little bit of housework done and then ran a couple of errands with Sissy. While we were out, I realized that was NOT a good idea and sent a text to Todd letting him know that when I got home, I would be needing another nap. He was great about it and made sure the kids didn't bother me; instead, they all watched a movie together and got to hang out and enjoy each others' company for a while.

Sissy kept trying to figure out if she'd done something to upset me or that had gotten her into trouble. I assured her she hadn't and that it was "just one of those days for me," but she still worried about it. (When the kids have done something that's really made me mad, it takes me a day or so to calm down enough to be able to nicely talk about it with them. I refuse to be ugly to my children just because I'm upset with them, so I take the time I need to calm down and be logical and polite, as long as it's not something that needs IMMEDIATE action. Everyone is better off for that cooling-off period.)

Amanda couldn't quite grasp that I needed to be left alone and wanted to tell me about her day, ask me questions and just go on like it was a normal day. Todd explained to her a couple of times that I needed to be left completely alone and she needed to not text me or try to get me involved in a conversation of any kind. I'm pretty sure she took it personally, rather than seeing it as something that was requested of everyone in the house. She will, however, have to come to terms with it and realize that when I'm in 'that place' there is nothing anyone can do but leave me alone until I'm ready to be with people again.

The little girls knew that Mommy didn't feel good and needed to be left alone. They understood and were happy to cuddle with Daddy and Sissy and watch a movie together. Derrick came to my room and asked me if I was hibernating. I told him yes, because I was in a bad mood and didn't need to be around people. He gave me a knowing look, hugged his cat and went on back to his room.

Through it all, Todd was his usual supportive self and made sure everyone was taken care of and I was left alone. I'm not saying this is easy for him, but over the years he's become a bit of an expert at it. I'm certain he deserves the Father and Husband of the Year Award for putting up with all of us and doing it in such a loving way.

I do wish there was something I could do to insure that I never had another one of "those days" again, but there's really not. I've been there, done that with pretty much every medical option. So, for now, it's all about teaching the rest of the family how to cope without me for a couple of days a year. We'll get there. Eventually.