Simply put, July was a shitty month for me.
Despite happy occasions like Levi’s second birthday and a long-awaited visit from my best friend and her toddler son, July was marked by an overwhelming feeling of sadness. Some days, the sadness weighed so heavily on my shoulders that it felt more like despair.
However, this isn’t a post about my troubles. I still feel the need to keep a few things about my private life, well, private. Also, I’m not as brave as my new friend Ellen, who recently shared a vulnerable post about her own demons.
Instead, I’d like to talk about how I coped with the sadness I felt last month. Or, at least, how I tried to cope with my feelings.
Gray skies are gonna clear up, put on a happy face.
Brush off the clouds and cheer up, put on a happy face.
— “Bye Bye Birdie”
Many mornings in July I struggled to get out of bed. I wanted to bury myself under the sheets and wallow in my melancholy for as long as possible.
But as the person primarily responsible for my toddler’s day-to-day care, I didn’t have that luxury of time. Keeping Levi home from school because I wanted to sleep away the sadness was not an option, so I put on a happy face for my son. (Although twice I did crawl back into bed after taking him to preschool in the morning and putting him down for his afternoon nap.)
I put on a happy face because I wanted Levi’s day to seem as normal as possible. We still had things to do and people to see, and I refused to let my worries disrupt our daily routine.
I put on a happy face because I wanted to spare Levi from seeing me mopey. While it’s important for toddlers to learn about emotions and feelings, I didn’t want to be a case study in sadness for him.
I put on a happy face because I had work to do. Forcing myself out of the house, I couldn’t be the sourpussed thirty-something writing in the corner of Starbucks; emo is not a good look for a suburban mom.
My coping strategy was not about faking it til you make it. It wasn’t Gretchen Rubin’s act the way you want to feel principle. Is it possible to rid yourself of a superficial bad mood simply by forcing yourself to smile? Possibly. But I don’t believe that you can replace sadness with happiness by just pretending that you are happy. You need to uncover the root of the melancholy before you can remedy it.
I put on a happy face to temporarily mask the pain I was feeling on the inside so that I could accomplish every day basics: eating, showering, dressing, caring for Levi, and finishing my work. At no time did I believe that simply smiling would wash away my worries nor was that my intention.
I hope this month’s desktop wallpaper designed by Mariah encourages you to put on a happy face the next time you’re troubled. My wish is that it motivates you to do whatever you need to do to just get through the day — and then you can tackle the deeper issues at hand.
Download this month’s desktop wallpaper here!
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P.S. — Download past Desktop Designs here.
Desktop Designs is an on-going collaboration between Bunny & Dolly and Oh, What Love.
Ugh, July was rough for me too – and MY birthday happened. LOL. Sometimes it feels like all the silver linings are just out of reach. I REALLY hope things are improving over there for you, and I’m ready for that commiseration chat whenever you are!!! (Misery loves company, right?)
I need to work on my happy face too, because I’ve shown the other side to Birdie a little too often lately. Sigh.
“Sometimes it feels like all the silver linings are just out of reach” = YES! I’m sorry that you also had a rough July/birthday month. It’s so hard to balance the emotions we feel inside with the people/moms we want to portray on the outside.
I’m going to email you to set up a Skype/Facetime date 🙂
🙁 hope you are ok. whatever made you down, just remember…. everything happens for a reason. and sometimes it takes a LONG time to see what that reason was, but it is there. there’s always next time, or next try, or another chance. 🙂
Thanks for the encouragement. I try to remind myself that “everything happens for a reason,” but I often want to know what that reason is NOW!
PJ! I think you are honest, brave and lovely all rolled up in a beautiful package. Admitting to sadness is hard and overcoming it is an incredibly ferocious uphill battle. So impressed that you can courageously smile even when it’s hard to get out of bed – a momma’s love is never-ending and powerful, yeah? Levi is a lucky boy. I will be wishing you a happier and more lighthearted August, but in the meantime, thank you for putting this out in the world! xo
Aww, thanks, Ellen. I often wish I were braver, but I also know that I don’t always give myself credit where credit is due. I just hope that being honest with my readers encourages them to do the same.
Moira @ Hearth and Homefront
The last month has been a rough one here as well. I haven’t been nearly as good at covering it up in front of my boys as I should have been…I hope that whatever the root to your sadness is dissipates and your August is happier and less stressful!
Thanks, and I wish the same to you! How old are your boys? Do you think they notice when mommy is feeling sad?
No fun. For probably different reasons, July wasn’t the best for me either. Actually, 2013 has been somewhat of a struggle… some days are better than others. I just really try to embrace those good days and squeeze as much out of them as possible!
I’m sorry to hear that 2013 has been challenging. I think you’re on to something though — it’s all about embracing the good days. Hoping the second half of the year gets easier for you!