Winter Makes It Worse

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For a brief minute or two, the breezy hum of my hairdryer drowns out the tantrum taking place in the kitchen.  Jack is pissed about doing homework.  Something has not gone to plan and he is freaking the fuck out.  While my husband is trying to butter waffles and shield Emily from Jack’s flailing pencil and fists, Jack is screaming, calling names, and taking swings at my husband.

This used to be an every day occurrence and now it is more like a couple times per month.  But still, when it happens, it feels like a freight train is racing towards me and I can’t move.  I don’t know what to do.  And I am supposed to know what to do because it is my job to tell other parents how to handle situations just like this.

He’s not giving you a hard time, he’s having a hard time!  

Stay consistent!  

Be present with him.  Keep your composure!  

Try to be perceived as a helper!

Blah.  Blah.  Blah.  It frustrates me I am so inept in my own home.

Winter makes it all worse.  I don’t really know why.  We are still going out, getting physical exercise, staying busy.  Maybe it is the lack of sun.  Maybe Jack is as sensitive to this as I am.

IMG_7057While I am not one to complain about the weather, I have to recognize that this winter in New England has sucked in a giant way.  We have been pummeled with snow for weeks.  I stand nearly six feet tall, and yet there is a mound of snow TALLER THAN ME for crying out loud, next to our driveway.  Other parts of the country may be used to this type of precipitation, but for us, here, it is a little much.

The ice and snow are destroying people’s homes.  A bunch of my friends and coworkers have had slip and falls on the snow, have had to take time out of work, and have been sore and injured.  Businesses have had to shut down for state-of-emergencies, and have lost significant revenue.

My husband was in a fender bender a couple weeks ago, because he could not see around the enormous bank of snow at the top of our street.  While everyone was unharmed in the accident, it still required auto-body work on his car to the tune of a $500 deductible.  Since we don’t generally have $500 lying around, this represents an additional financial stressor in our lives which are already stretched very thin.

These are all real stressors.  These are all factors that tip the scales in favor of Seasonal Affective Disorder.

At least they have for me.

I’ve been noticing my patience is really thin with my kids, and then I feel like a total jerk hole for yelling or being short with them.  I’ve been noticing that my energy is low, my appetite is poor, and all I want to do is sleep and munch on chips.  I’ve been noticing it feels like an act of Congress would be the only thing to get me up off the couch to put the laundry in the dryer, or to get Emily a drink of water.

I look around outside and the big, crusty, piles of snow make me feel claustrophobic, like there is no room to move.

Then I get to go to work and listen to dozens of clients vent about their lives, the weather, and how insane their kids are acting.  At some point, I just want to say, Look, I’m not any better than this and I really have no advice for you because I am a total fraud.  So, good luck with everything.  Now go away and leave me alone.  

I was sick with bronchitis and then bronchitis induced asthma for the entire month of February, so any emotional buffer I might have had to tolerate aberrant child behavior, a hectic workload, and the third blizzard in as many weeks has been rinsed down the sink in a gob of greenish-yellow phlegm.

So, when I get pumped up with a tiny burst of pleasure at a nice hot shower, it just feels devastating to have that bubble popped by hearing a tantrum the second I turn off the water.

I know kids do crazy stuff and they get angry too. Believe me I know I’m not supposed to take it personally.  But it seems I’ve gone a bit snow-blind and have lost some perspective on things.  I’m trying to remember Jack typically has trouble at this time of year, then things get a little better with spring.

I just want my family to be happy.

I just want to be happy.

It sounds so simple, and yet somedays it can feel so hard.

Are you having a tough time this winter?  Have you ever been diagnosed with SADD?  What has been helpful to you during this time?  

Ps. Please check out my new creative writing blog, the Story of Blue. I’m so excited to see you there!

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13 responses »

  1. Let me just raise my hand in agreement here. Not only does SADD affect me, but what I struggle with ends up affecting my kids and my husband. The smallest molehills turn into mountains at the drop of a hat, and I feel like I am always a ball of anxiety by the time I go to bed, despite starting off my day with a solid meditation. I -do- take a Vitamin D supplement, and that has helped a little this past year. I am hoping that my seven-year-old and my thirteen-month-old don’t develop this; I am trying my best to stay positive for them!

    • Oh mama, YES!! We are a very close-knit family, so when one of us is struggling, it tends to throw off the whole pack. Molehills into mountains is the perfect way to put how I have been feeling/behaving. I don’t get a solid meditation, although it might help. Thanks so much for reading and commenting. I will also consider the Vitamin D– great suggestion.

  2. I am sitting here in peace – candles burning, nice music, sleeping cats. No one else is in the house, and I can breathe deeply for the both of us. Hopefully you can feel a little of the calm and contentment I am sending you.

    • That is incredibly kind. And yes, today is a better day. It is still bitterly cold, but the sun is out at the moment. My daughter and I are spending some QT, and I’m actually getting some blogging in. So thanks for sending the peace!!

  3. Winters can be so tough. It’s work to force your mind to let the stress slide off. For me, not being able to get around is the hardest part. But what’s worse is when you have to go out there and deal with the roads, etc. Our roads are terrible even with the smallest amount of snow or ice – when you send your teenagers out on them, it doesn’t matter if the rest of the group is home and cozy. We haven’t had it as bad as New England this year. Sending warm thoughts a little farther north!

    • OMG I can’t even imagine letting my kids drive in this kind of weather! I am happy they are not teenagers yet, although it will probably be here before I know it. Ugh. Thanks for the warm thoughts… you are right, it is work to force your mind to let stuff go.

  4. Has anyone tried a “happy lamp” (full-spectrum something-or-other)? Seattle’s 10-month grey season really affects my mood.

  5. I feel for you on the SAD thing. I’ve had it for a number of years, but thankfully I’m having a very light case this winter. It’s a very real condition. Antidepressants from September-March have helped me, as well as a light therapy box.

    And I sympathize with the temper tantrum thing, too. We were there for many years, and the combination of a tantrum-prone child and a mom with SAD is NOT a pretty sight.

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