Usually, both of the kids are up before the crack of dawn. School days included.
Most days I get out of bed to find them awake somewhere, waiting for it to be time to get dressed for school.
Today though, the house was oddly quiet when I woke up.
I got out of bed to find my oldest in his room already getting dressed and putting on his shoes. He still had over 20 minutes before he needed to be worried about his shoes, but oh well, good for him.
My daughter however, was not in the rocking chair (this is usual morning spot to post up and wait). There was no visible signs that she had been there at all yet this morning.
I realized her tablet was still on the charger. Her door was still closed.
She was still in bed.
She’s usually the first one out of bed. She’s a true morning person. She’s always in such a good mood before the sun rises. Such a good mood in fact, that to someone like me, who is not a morning person, her cheerful chirpy attitude is almost annoying before I’ve had my coffee.
Today was different.
She was awake. But she clearly had made no attempt to get out of bed.
I found her still buried deep in her covers, just staring blankly at the door.
I wasn’t greeted with a smile. No “Good morning, Mommy!“. Nothing.
Just a blank stare. Her eyes looked tired. She almost looked like she wanted to cry.
She seriously looked like she could burst into uncontrollable tears at any moment.
I asked her if she felt okay.
She said no.
She didn’t have a fever. She wasn’t coughing. Her throat didn’t hurt. She didn’t have an upset tummy.
Physically, I could find nothing wrong with her.
She couldn’t tell me what the problem was. She said she just didn’t feel very good.
She couldn’t find the right words to tell me what was the matter.
She’s five. And sometimes, words are hard. Especially when it comes to how you feel. And especially when you’re five.
She didn’t have to find the words though. Her face and her eyes told me all I needed to know.
She wasn’t sick.
She just woke up on the wrong side of the bed. One of those days that make adults grumpy. The kind of mood that makes for a bad day, even though nothing in particular happened to make it a bad day.
One of those days where everything and everyone is annoying.
One of those days that as an adult, if you have the ability, you might decide to take a personal day, go back to bed, and try again in a few hours.
She didn’t need to take a sick day. Because she wasn’t sick.
She needed to take a personal day. A mental health day.
A can relate to that need all too well.
I could have told her to suck it up, get up, get dressed, and go to school.
Instead, I told her to go back to bed.
I tucked her back in, and I let her stay home.
By early afternoon she was bouncing around the house, playing with her little brother, back to her normal overly cheerful self.
I should feel bad that she missed a day of school for no reason. But I don’t. Given the opportunity, I’d do it again.
Life is overwhelming. It’s hard. And that is my statement as an adult.
I can’t imagine being five again, trying to navigate my feelings and emotions, in the midst of learning how to control them, while at the same time being expected to go to school, sit still all day, and contend with the overwhelming environment that is an elementary school.
My daughter is a very emotional child. She has big emotions, and she wears them on her sleeve.
At school, she is very quiet, reserved, and tries her best to be a big girl and not cry when she’s upset.
I have a feeling that stifling all that emotion all day is probably mentally and physically exhausting.
This morning, she’d had enough. She clearly couldn’t deal with the idea of getting up and making herself small today. The idea of that was just too much.
Some people would describe her as over dramatic. I myself am guilty of using that description for her.
I’m working on that.
This morning when I looked at my little girl, I saw an exhaustion in her eyes that little girls shouldn’t have.
I don’t want to be someone that she has to be smaller for.
She’s empathetic. She’s happy. She’s a little bossy, but she knows what she wants and she isn’t afraid to tell you, and anyone else within earshot.
She’s loud. She’s proud of who she is. And she should be. Even though the world tells her she shouldn’t be.
They want her to be smaller. Quieter. Sit a little more still.
And so she does. Because she’s also a people pleaser. It makes her happy to make others happy.
But it also makes her tired.
So I let her take a mental health day. Because mental health is just as important as physical health. No matter how old you are.
Unfortunately, even in 2019, mental health is a bit of a taboo topic. Mental health days are not listed in the reasons for an excused absence. But it should be.
Not talking about mental health with our kids, and not letting them know that it’s important to take care of their mental health, in my opinion, is what leads to screwed up adults.
So tomorrow I will send her off to school with a note that reads:
Please excuse (insert name here) from school on Thursday 11/14. We kept her home for the day because she wasn’t feeling well.
**I am in no way a mental health professional. The statements made here are my personal opinions. Again, I am not a medical professional! I’m just a mom with lots of big opinions!**