I've come to realise lately that the stigma attached to feeling low, whether that's during our single days, in the throes of motherhood, divorce, illness or loss of loved ones is still very hard to face up to.
Thankfully, we are starting to appreciate that when we declare with courage that we are struggling emotionally, the chains of fear associated with this stigma are broken and a new horizon descends. beyond the clouds.
My husband lost his mother exactly two years ago.
After leaving a furniture shop and sighing with relief that we share the same taste in sofas (a major tick in the marriage compatibility box, I'm told) we stumble upon Rachmaninov on our car journey home. It's here that he expresses a hope that our children will truly soak up music.
"I may not be a musician, but my mother injected music into my soul as a child," he says. The piece continues to play and the pain of loss looms large in the air. How wonderful that a son's resounding memory of his mother is that she gave him music.
As I sit on the bed, with the cat we inherited from his mother, I realise the bond between mother and child is one that courses through our veins our entire lives. "Tom's the last thing I have left of my mum," says David.
And I'm once again alerted to the deep pain of his loss. I'm sure he wouldn't mind me saying that a painful low set in as a result of her passing away. I am fortunate to have both of my parents and almost certainly take for granted the significance of their mortality and hands-on approach with our children.
Lately, however, I've become very worried about my four-year-old son. He has graduated from the gentle, sweet-natured kind boy, to a chair-kicking, door-slamming extremist. I haven't a clue how to combat this phase. So my plan? Invite a school friend over for Spiderman dress-up and tea cakes.
Oh yes! I've joined the social scene of play dates: "Whose date? My date??"
"I've lost count now whose turn the date is."
I take this responsibility seriously. I've mentally (and I use this word loosely) planned an itinerary.
The play date comprises of dinner, dance time, bubble bath and a wind-down film. I'm excited. It doesn't take much these days. This is a sure recipe for success. Yes, this is the cure for exorcising my son's demons. The sad reality is that this play date earns itself a murky 2 out of 5.
It is fiercely dominated by my son slamming doors, repeatedly, and emotionally asking a very odd question that I'd welcome any child therapist to decrypt: "You want to eat me, don't you?" SLAM!
After my usual rhetoric and threat to phone Santa to take away his Bat Cave, I collapse onto the sofa, my fuel supplies well and truly exhausted.
Mindful that this does not convey my most convincing 'hostess with the mostess' veneer, I'm now even struggling to strain a smile and a light-hearted "Oh dear: boys, huh!"
My school mum confidante throws me a compassionate look. Oh God No!!! Not that look, please! Can't you see I'm in trouble here... Aghhhhhh FLIP! She's unknowingly blasted away my coping facade, scratching away at my unspoken low. Can I? Should I? Once I pull the parachute cord, it's just straight down and we'll all know.
"I'm feeling very low," I say with trepidation.
A really pleasant pause follows. The kind of pause that actually feels comfortable. The kind of pause you hear very little about. Relief. Utter relief.
Not earth-shattering, glass-breaking relief. But a sudden calm descends.
Acceptance IS bliss. We are all juggling so many versions of ourselves, and of course, even my four-year-old wants to find his place on the map. Ironically, we are and will forever, be doing the growing-up bit, the self-acceptance-or-not bit, the netball team picking or not being picked bit, and I've had a wonderful revelation: embrace the low points.
What I know for sure is this: the fight that we face from within is not defeat. Far from it. It's the path to sure victory. Let's rally one another, champion each other, stand side by side and admit: "I'm struggling. It's OK, in fact, it's bloody marvellous. Wait until you see me win this mini battle. I'll be ready to mop up your brow - anyone's brow."
Because we do this struggle thing together and it's really rather beautiful.Suggest a correction