I write this post, sipping hot tea, oblivious to the fact that today, the sun decided to shine in all its midday glory. Best of all, perhaps, is the fact that my little power house has taken a hiatus of sorts from mom, and has opted to stay with cucu, best grandma ever, and who has seemingly defied the idea of getting old. It has been a long while since I was this quiescent (August school holidays are here, and my toddler lives it up every single minute!), and the bliss of the moment got me thinking a lot about events that unfolded in the last weekend. This gave me the impetus for this particular post.
I stood there, slightly flummoxed at how fast I was losing it, how fast the world around me, mentally, was spinning. The kids were seemingly uncontrollable. I’d attend to one kid who’d just scraped his knee, only to find his friend doing somersaults and see another eating paper from the corner of my eye while his friend attempted to replicate WWE’s scenes. There is something that happens when kids have excessive energy, and no-where to expend it, yet here I was alone, and nothing I could do about it. To contain the hyper kids in a room only creates the ideal environment for what was unfolding before my eyes. But that was not what was bothering me…
It was the striking similarity of the emotions that I associated with these out-of-control scenarios that had me feeling stifled, like I was getting choked. Overwhelmed, under pressure, and feeling like there is little that I can do for normalcy’s sake. A tear rolled down my cheek, someone asked me what was wrong, and it was as though that was the cue for the torrential burst of tears that followed before I scampered to a lone place, away from the scrutiny of the public. If I explained why this was bothering me, it would seem like I was lulling her into my seemingly apathetic angst, like I wanted to run away from my responsibility of watching over the kids that chilly afternoon. So I hobbled away.
I stood there alone, recollecting what had just happened, and why, even months after healing from self-diagnosed Post-Partum Depression (PPD), this scenario almost always got the better of me. Flashbacks of my son’s first year flooded in, quite fast. Then, I’d cry about almost anything, I’d cry when he cried, I’d cry if he was colicky, I’d cry if he couldn’t latch on my breast properly during feeding, I’d cry when he smiled toothlessly (for thinking how bad of a mom I was for not appreciating him), I’d cry when, sleep-deprived and under the new-born haze, I felt like I’d never be able to deal with this dark cloud hanging over my then shaggy hair (something that resembled the nest where those marabou storks at Nyayo roundabout live).
Looking back, feeling overwhelmed almost always made me lose it. And it was almost always accompanied by the shrill cries in the wee hours of the morning, the decision I faced to either leave baby on his own or smack his 3-month old diapered butt for crying with no apparent reason (because, ain’t you well-fed, freshly diapered and warm??). Sometimes I beat him, sometimes I ignored him, most of the time I cried in desperation, only to wipe those tears away and dab my face with ice-cubes in time for his grandma to return from work. It was hard.
Those very emotions are what I felt standing there alone, the sound of rustling leaves beneath my feet. I realized that, much as I have made strides in healing from PPD, there are still sights and sounds, especially the latter, that will always get me. Today, I don’t smack my son, or slap him like I used to in that frustration. I have learnt am learning to walk away from the situation when it starts to feel like fog is descending on me. To sit alone in silence, even for just five minutes. To remind myself that I have made steps, and while I am not perfect, I am certainly not where I used to be. To breathe, deeply. To catch myself before I fall into the flinty pit of frustration. To stay on shore before I drift into the murky waters of self-destruction. This seemingly small event put so much in perspective about my PPD journey. It made me realize that, while the depression gradually fades when one gets help and support, the triggers do remain, albeit silently.
Featured Image Photo Credits: Samir Dave