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Creating Gaps. Closing Doors.

Where Depression Slinks In ...

I think that my mum's illness, its sly and stealthy onset so that at first we could believe what she told us - I'm just having a bad day - coincided with the collapse of her role as mother.

Not entirely, of course, the job is never taken away entirely: once a mom, always a mom. But its shape morphs and evolves and moves so that at times it is difficult to grapple with, to grasp firmly, to pin down: that's what I do: I'm a mom.

When children go to school. Start college. Leave home.

You're never out of a job.

But you can feel redundant.

As if of all the balls you were juggling, you had dropped one. Or two. Or all three.

And it's in the searching, in the flailing about that follows, that Depression can slide in. Unseen. Innocuous. Into the cool gap left by departingallgrownup children.

Mum has always maintained the Depression is about loss. Loss of direction. Loss of self-confidence. Loss of self.

See. Here's the thing. Become a mother - like she did, like I did, like my maternal grandmother did - at 25 (such neat symmetry: you'd think there'd be some tidy security in that?) and do little else than raise one, two, three, four children for 18, 19, 20 years and you become defined by them. By their needs, their demands, their presence.
And then they are gone.

They no longer need you to remind them to clean their teeth, brush their hair, you no longer drive them to school, help with homework. And as they grow up so you are, quite rightly, and perfectly healthily given that they must seek their own way, carve out their own niche in the world, relegated to Second Place.

That's not the part that's hard. The part that's hard is in the rededication of the self. Yourself. Myself.

I put my son on a plane bound for school. I will not see him for two months. He is a head taller than me now.

And when I am safely back in the car, I find myself crying.

Why don't they get easier? These partings? The umbilical cord that anchored him to me was cut 18 years ago. But the emotional one, binding me to him, is powerful still.

He does not cry. Of course he doesn't! He is a composed young man excited at his adventures. Poised to take flight. And I am happy. Happy that he does not cry. Happy that he relishes his return to learning, peers, football with such palpable energy.

I cry because when I come home it seems emptier. And bigger. (But not in a good way).

And I vow to keep busy.

I sit at my desk, open my laptop and as I begin to write I notice a draught.
And I get up to close a door.


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