Title: When Mommy Feels Sad
Author: Heidi Bartle
Basic Overview: This is a lovely, simple look at the complicated world of mental illness. It was originally written by the author in an attempt to help her five children and husband understand how depression affects her ability to interact and participate in their lives.
3 Great Takeaways: This tender picture book about a mother’s struggle with depression is exactly what the deliberate mom needs to understand and explain mental illness to those she loves. I loved the part where she tries to do all of the things that well-intentioned people tell her to do (read, go on a walk, make small goals), but in the end, what helps is to have someone listen to her and accept her just as she is.
My favorite part is the very end: she can feel love and hope even on the days when she can’t get out of bed. It reminds us that our “best” may be different than another’s best; that our “best” may be different from day to day; and that our “best” is simply that—ours. The illustrations are absolutely perfect for the tone of the book.
What this book will do for you: What I loved most about this book is that whether or not you struggle with mental illness, Heidi’s vulnerable approach bridges the gap that we all feel as deliberate mothers: being enough. Whether the limitations are physical, emotional, mental, or spiritual, it feels like failure when we don’t feel capable of doing all we want to do. It cuts deep into our hearts because all we really want as deliberate mothers is to protect and raise strong children for the next generation. When these limitations get in the way, we tend to feel like we have failed ourselves, our spouses, and our families.
Although I do not suffer from the same level of anxiety and depression, I have other limitations that leave me feeling frustrated with my own capacity and energy. On tired days, on headachey days, on PMS days—doesn’t matter—we deliberate mothers tend to feel like we need to push through, even if everyone else is taking a break. I can completely relate to that deep need to prove myself, and this book gave me permission to feel like I’m enough, even on the days when I can’t do what I think I need to do.
Heidi’s honest, authentic journey with depression is written for a child’s understanding but will likely make you weep, because whether or not you struggle with this disease, the emotions are the same. You will feel inspired, validated, and understood. I loved, loved, loved it!
QUESTION: What limitations or challenges do you have that make you feel, at times, that you are not enough?
CHALLENGE: Practice some self-compassion and self-care this week and take a deliberate break, just for yourself.
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Edited by Kimberly Price and Nollie Haws.