Back in June, while undergoing IVF, I became depressed. It happened suddenly (and most likely due to the hormone treatments I was injecting twice daily into my belly). My mind would obsess and worry about inconsequential things. I didn’t sleep much. I had bad dreams that would cause me to wake up with a pit of anxiety in my stomach. Then sadness. A deep sadness that didn’t go away immediately after the egg retrieval, but one that lingered for weeks. It wasn’t good.
Sonya noticed. At that time she started to ask, “are you happy mama?” A question that devastated me. I felt like as hard as I tried to hide my depression, it had affected her. “Are you happy now?” Sonya would put her hand on my arm or snuggle close and say, “maybe you just need a cuddle?!”
As the hormones balanced out, so did my mood. I felt like myself again! Despite this, Sonya’s questioning of my happiness has persisted. She asks it numerous times throughout our day:
At 5:30 a.m. in the morning. Sonya just woke up and shouts (she tends to talk too loudly when not wearing her CIs) “Mom I need to EAT!” As soon as she sees my exhausted face: “Mom are you happy?”
At 8:30 a.m. as I struggle to get shoes on her feet (which for some reason she needs to kick off in resistance) so that we can get out the door and to her school located 21 blocks south from us in less than 15 minutes by stroller, which may be physically impossible: “Mom are you happy?”
At noon as I struggle to get her in the Uber carseat so that we can take the trip downtown for speech therapy, reading lessons and then group therapy. Sonya is again resisting and kicks me in the face before asking, “Mom are you happy?”
At 5 p.m. as we sit in traffic on the West Side Highway heading back uptown. We have been here for 45 minutes and we aren’t even at the numbered streets yet, “Mom are you happy?”
Sometimes I smile through clenched teeth. “Of course!” I lie. Sometimes I truly am happy. Sometimes I shake my head, “Nope. Not when you aren’t wearing your CI’s” I point to the spot above my ear where her should processors sit, had she not thrown them off in a tantrum.
Of course I blamed myself. My daughter had seen me depressed and now she felt some need to monitor my emotional state.
Interestingly, at group therapy I met another mom whose daughter asked the exact. same question. Every. Freaking. Day!! “Mama are you happy?”
Could it be that Sonya asking me this question umpteen times a day has less to do with my erratic emotional state and more to do with the fact that due to her hearing loss Sonya is very visual? She studies facial cues perhaps more than hearing children. Perhaps her asking me about my happiness has less to do with my depression and more to do with the fact that I have Resting Bitch Face?
For some perplexing reason, this realization has brought me much relief! She also started to ask Yan the same question, so it’s not only on me now 🙂
Does your child with hearing loss ask similar questions? I would love to hear about it!