‘The second he opened his eyes, he was ready to completely break down.’: Mom shares importance of child mental health days

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“Last week I gave my little boy a mental health day off.

He’s six.⁣

From the second he opened his eyes in the morning, he was miserable.

I could feel it.⁣

He was short on sleep.

He was irritable and agitated.

Something was off in his world.⁣

By the time we pulled up to the elementary school, we were already late.

And it felt like we’d gone off the rails.

I looked back at his face as he moved to unbuckle, ready to offer some frustrated version of my normal love you, miss you, have a great day goodbyes.

But the look on his face hit me right in the heart. ⁣

He was angry, yes.

But anger is a secondary emotion – I know that.

It comes from something else. ⁣

I could see he was anxious and incredibly overwhelmed. (I feel awful inside, all over. My thoughts and my feelings are so big, and they hurt… and now even my body is hurting, and my chest feels strange, and my akin is kind of crawling.)

Then I saw his confusion. (Why am I acting like this? What’s wrong with me? Why can’t I stop it?)

And his sadness. (My mama isn’t helping me. I don’t feel loved right now. I’m not a good kid. I’m not worthy of being loved.)

He was ready to completely break down.

And I knew exactly how he felt because I’ve felt it, too.

Thousands and thousands of times in my life.

He and I are two peas in a pod. ⁣

So I had two choices:⁣

Make my kid go into school – feeling confused, hurt, uncomfortable, unworthy – risking damage to both his mental health and my relationship with him…⁣or drive away.⁣

I drove away.⁣

And as soon as I could, I parked and hugged my baby.

I let him get all his feelings out.

We talked through what had happened.⁣

Then I offered him the choice to take a mental health day off.⁣

My goodness, I think of the times when I just needed to know this was an option.

But we know so much more now… about the realities and importance of both mental health and relationships. ⁣

Bottom line: I very firmly believe in taking time and space to heal whatever is sick or hurting.

Not just in adulthood, but as soon as someone needs it. (In our house, it happens in preschool.)⁣

I won’t always get things right as a mom.

But every day, I’m making the conscious decision to show my kids that their feelings are important, that their needs are important, and that our relationship comes second to absolutely nothing else in the world. ⁣

I’m doing that in the ways that work best for my children, in the ways that make sense for my family…and that’s all any of us can do⁣.”

little boy enjoying his mental health day
Courtesy of Cassie Gottula Shaw

This story was submitted to Love What Matters by Cassie Gottula Shaw. You can follow her journey on Facebook. Submit your own story here and be sure to subscribe to our free email newsletter for our best stories, and YouTube for our best videos.

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