Saturday, August 16, 2014


Robin Williams' suicide set off my most recent jag of depression. I was not surprised at all to learn he had been suffering inside: his whole career - his outward show of joy and light and energy - has always been, to me, the quintessential example of the mask depressed people often wear to get through their days. Over the past two decades I have become skilled at stuffing my feelings away so I can function in the world; so skilled that my sporadic therapy sessions are almost entirely about learning how to feel - an exercise that always leaves me exhausted.

I'm highly functional outside my house, but at home, sometimes I just start crying. Yesterday, while Ryan was playing in his room, I just sat at my kitchen counter and sobbed. Almost as soon as I had begun, Ryan came rushing down to the kitchen, asking me, "What's wrong, Mommy?"

"Oh, sometimes I just feel sad," I told him, not even bothering to wipe away my tears. "I'm not sad about anything, I'm just sad."

He hopped up onto the stool next to me and reached for his pile of library books. Horton Hears a Who was on top. "Let's read this one, Mommy. It will cheer you up."

The last thing I wanted to do at that moment was read Dr. Seuss aloud, but my sweet boy wanted me to, so I started, crying through the first four pages.

As the kangaroos were mocking Horton's devotion to his dust speck, Ryan opened the fridge, got the lemonade down from the top shelf, pulled a glass from the cabinet (I don't know when he got tall enough to do these things), and started fumbling with the bottle's cap. Ryan doesn't like lemonade, so I had no idea why he was so intent on pouring it. "Just pour yourself a little to see if you like it before you waste a whole glass," I said in the mom voice. With the glass just an inch from the edge of the counter, he poured out a finger or so of lemonade, nearly knocking over both the glass and the bottle; I winced. He tasted the lemonade, made the lemon face, and filled the rest of the glass with water.

Then he put the glass down in front of me.

My baby fixed me a glass of lemonade to cheer me up.

I hugged him, getting happy tears all over his hair. I tried to explain the difference between happy tears and sad tears; I think he understood, because he started giggling.

"Keep reading!" he demanded sweetly.

By the time Jo-Jo let out his Yopp, I felt calm again.

I must be doing something right here, because I'm raising one seriously good kid.