Last Saturday, my husband, my daughter and I went to BJs for our monthly shopping of meat (mainly). When we first walked into the store, my daughter, Sophia, recognized right away the song that was playing. Knowing that this song, Ed Sheeran’s ‘Photograph’, triggers me into thinking about Tyler and last winter as a whole with my Anxiety and Depression, she took her index fingers and stuck them in my ears. She kept them there until the song was over. This action of protection… is something a parent would do.
I realized after this event occurred that in a way, I was no longer the parent. Sure, I yelled at her at times, checked her homework, made her bathe… but when it came to protection, she had the control. Reliving this event in my head after my shower on Sunday, had me wrapped in a towel, sitting on the bath ledge, crying. I am supposed to be the protector. With tears rolling down my cheeks, I realized that this was not the first instance. She has been protecting me since I left the hospital in January. A little girl, only 8 years old, became Mommy to her mother.
I am the first to admit that what Sophia witnessed last winter most likely freaked her out, especially with her Generalized Anxiety Diagnosis. I was scaring my mother, so yes, my daughter must have been frightened. First she had to witness my delusional talking when under numerous anxiety attacks. She then fell victim to my many crying spells. She was at the dinner table when I said I was too nauseas to eat and she saw my fear about sleeping in my room. Then she lost her brother when he went back into DCF custody, as I was spiraling into a dark hole. After the unthinkable happened, she had to live without me for 5 days while I was in the hospital. Five days she couldn’t hug me, kiss me, or cuddle with me. She couldn’t even see me. Our only contact was over the phone and there was a time limit.
I believe within those 5 days she came up with the plan that to not lose Mommy, she needed to protect me. When I arrived home after my hospitalization, she would watch me with eagle eyes. She would constantly want to be by my side. She would repeatedly ask me, “Mommy, are you okay?” if she saw tears in my eyes. When I would honestly respond no, I could see the worry in her face. That’s when she started to bring me things. If I were crying, she would bring me a box of tissues, sit with me, hug me and say, “It’s alright Mommy, it will get better.” Just like a mother would say holding her sick child.
At some point in these last few months, I eventually asked her why she was so worried about me. Her response:
“I don’t want to lose you, too.”
I’ve asked her if she misses her brother, as I am the only one who sheds tears over this still (hence my recent PTSD diagnosis). Her response:
“I don’t want a brother anymore. I just want my Mommy.”
I am angry with myself over this. I will tell her over and over again that it is not her job to take care of me, that it is my job to take of myself and her. She still doesn’t listen. She is my protector right now. In a way I am grateful that she has become such a caring and loving and understanding person, but then I remember she is only going to be 9 years old. Protection is not her job. Her job is to be the child, carefree, happy, exploring. Instead, she has already inherited the adult trait of protection. I am at a loss on how to correct this, so for now…
I tell her, “Sophia, it is not your job to take care of me. It is Mommy’s job.” And I hug and kiss her.