Tuesday, October 23, 2007
parenting, depression, and mercy
Today I yelled at the girls. I am not one of those parents who never yell. While in many ways I’ve grown more patient and tolerant over the years, I am still woefully inadequate when it comes to my girls. Usually, however, yelling at them doesn’t throw me into the throes of guilt. Typically, my yelling does have a cause. While I shouldn’t have yelled, it wasn’t without a reason. I usually repent of it try again. Sometimes I fail and some days I am actually patient. However, today I yelled at the girls out of nothing but my own frustration. (It is starting to sound as if I yell at them all the time, which isn’t the case). As a result, I was filled with guilt.
Guilt. I was guilty. However, even after prayer, I let it drag me down. This is not surprising. This weekend I realized and accepted (have you ever noticed how it is important it is that those two should go together) that I am in a nice little depression. My little blue happy pills aren’t doing it for me. I don’t care. Nothing seems to matter. I sleep a lot even when I am rested. I eat massive quantities of food. I don’t care.
It is good that I lived with this for several years after I quit work and stayed home with C. I’ve probably messed her up for life (they say depressed parents with infants cause tremendous psychological damage) but I at least know how to cope. I know the minimal amount I need to do in a day to survive. I make supper first thing and try to take care of essentials like laundry. Then if I get a burst of ambition I can spend it where I want before I sink back into guilt and lethargy.
I suppose I ought to go to the doctor and tell him. But I am suffering from the same thing that caused me to deny the need for those little blue happy pills for so many years...the stubborn unwillingness to admit that I can’t control my moods and that I need someone or something else to do it for me. It irks me that I get this way. I guess the thing to do is remember what joy feels like and realize that without a miracle from God or a little medical assistance I will stay in these dungeons – I know. I’ve wasted a lot of my life in them.
Anyhow back to guilt. I was writhing in the guilty tangle that accompanies depression and realized something. A little bad parenting may be bad for the girls but it is good for me. It reminds me that I can’t do this by myself. I will fail. I can only succeed as a parent by God’s mercy. His mercy covers me and the girls. It is only by his mercy that I am alive and a Christian today so why should I assume the responsibility of making sure the girls are alive and Christians when they turn thirty. I just have to take care of them today. Then when tomorrow comes and I find that God has trusted me with them for another day I take care of them for that day.
Maybe I should retitle this post – One Day at a Time.
Isn't it funny how focus changes how things look? In the first photo the focus shows mostly the coloring (or in black and white the shading) of my eye. In the second photo the focus shifts slightly and you can see not only reflection of my hand with detail of my thumb but also K climbing the step below me and her shadow on the cement. (You will probably have to click on the image to see it big enough to see the details I just mentioned).