When it comes to introducing serious business to my 8 year old and my 6 year old, I have noticed that I often use metaphors. Not the euphemism kind, like ‘Grandma went to sleep for a very long time‘, but the raw truth in a friendly package.
As it is, I’m healing from a depression I have long been ignoring. Today, I don’t intend to talk about depression though. Those stories sadly are plenty, including here and there on World Moms Blog. As always, I prefer to talk about my kids.
They both know something is wrong with their mommy. They know I have an illness that is mostly settled in my head, but that makes my body overly tired and trembling as well. They also know there are a lot of people helping me to cure from this illness called depression. I believe it is important to be honest. They will sense something is out of the hook anyway.
In fact, it wasn’t difficult to explain to them at all. They were even ecstatic about it, because it meant their mommy would be at home from work for a very long time. They experience my sick leave as an extended holiday with lots of mommy-time.
But I did owe them some further explanation. You see, at the deepest moments of my depression, I was easily irritated. Way too easily. That’s where the metaphor comes in. I talked to them about my Balloon. I believe you can use the Balloon when you’re not suffering from depression, but just irritated or angry because of stress at work, in your relationship, or just because of, well, life.
You see, we all have a Balloon somewhere inside us. Mine is inside my tummy. My Balloon is filled with old anger and sorrow that has been nagging at me for years. When I’m stressed about work, traffic or household issues, the new sorrows will pile up inside the Balloon. Most people have Balloons that grew larger while they were growing up, but mine didn’t. I still have a very small one. And it’s almost constantly full.
The kids, they know what happens with a regular balloon that is just too full. It will explode with a scary bang. They really dread that sound.
Now, sometimes, when they are acting up, those little annoyances can be the final blow that make my little Balloon pop. I want them to understand that such explosions are not their fault at all. Almost nothing of which was already filling the Balloon is their doing. It’s mostly old stuff, from the time before they were even born.
The sick leave, the medication and all the doctors are now helping me to empty my Balloon. If I really try hard, I will even get a bigger one. That way, it won’t pop as easily any more.
I didn’t know whether they really understood, until my 6 year old girl came to me after another Balloon collapse. I wanted to apologize, but she shushed me.
You don’t need to say sorry, mommy. We understand. Your Balloon was just too full.
I apologized anyway, while cleaning up the invisible remains of my Balloon.
They deserve that much.
Do you use metaphors to talk about difficult subjects with your kids? Which ones?
This is an original post to World Moms Blog by K10K @ The Penguin and The Panther.
“Black toy balloon” by AJ – Open clip Art Library image’s page. Licensed under CC0 via Wikimedia Commons