We have a little additional room to our home that, I believe, the original owner used as a sewing room. It’s connected to our kitchen and drops down a few steps lower. We knew instantly that we’d use this as a playroom for the girls. This has proven to be a good decision. Small children are not easy to contain for a long period and having a centralized location for the chaos helps. However, the space ends up having a life all its own. I have come to think of this room as the Zoo. Let me explain the source of the name.
1) The view from the outside
There is a small railing along the lip of the room and the small stairs. We also installed a baby gate, primarily for Zoe containment since Phoebe is able open the door. So when I am sitting at the kitchen table looking in on them, it kind of seems like bars are holding them in. A giant baby cage, if you will.
2) Crazy monkeys
Small children have many things in common with monkeys that got into the jar of sugar someone inexplicably left alone. They all make a lot of noise. They are constantly demanding food. Objects will often get thrown about. Anything that can end up in their mouths, WILL end up in their mouths. There is occasionally poop. To give my children credit, I am pretty sure they smell better (usually) and are easier to ultimately calm down than the monkeys would be. This is an assumption. I don’t hang out with many monkeys in my day-to-day, so I can’t test the hypothesis.
3) Visiting the exhibit
My girls are quite fortunate to have a few people, particularly grandparents, who really love them. We also have some friends who pop in for the occasional visit. When these various people come by, it really does feel a bit like a few tourists came in to the zoo. Specifically, it becomes a kind of petting zoo. People will go in the playroom to hang out with the girls. They will play with Phoebe and Zoe. Sometimes it is at their own risk. My kids may have been eating something sticky. You also have to be mindful of the aforementioned baby gate, lest Zoe run off and try to drop things in the toilet. We have one friend, whom I absolutely adore, that consistently struggles with anything child-proof despite the fact that she’s one of the smartest people I know. So the baby gate can trip up even the most intrepid house guest/tourist.
4) David Attenborough
This doesn’t quite fit the whole “playroom as a zoo” thing I’ve got going. However, I’d be lying if I said watching my kids just interact with their environment didn’t make me feel like David Attenborough narrating The Life of Mammals. Even though I’m not British.
So the children spend a good part of their day in the Zoo. And so does daddy. I guess at the end of the day, that makes me less of a zookeeper and more part their society. Or maybe part of the habitat. Usually the climbing portion. I can live with that.
I am going to say something that should shock no one, particularly anyone that knows me or has followed me on this site. I am not perfect. I am extremely imperfect. I more or less accept that. There. We can all move on.
Now, awhile back I wrote a piece about my experience with clinical depression. I’ve mentioned it a bit more in other posts. What I wanted to talk about now is a specific part of my, for lack of a better term, treatment. That would be therapy. Yay! One of the last things people ever want to admit they need!
Before I got the official diagnosis, I had actually already started seeing a therapist after a discussion with my regular doctor. Admitting you need help sucks. It is nothing to be ashamed of, but we get conditioned to think it should be. Much like having any kind of mental illness. So, basically we get kind of screwed. You can’t admit something is wrong and, if you do, then you can’t get help because it’s shameful. Fucked up, right? And of course my attempt was a little late in the game. I still had a breakdown, still ended up in an outpatient program, and had to admit a few things to myself. And one of those was that I needed to be in therapy AND needed to be medicated. Not one or the other. They go together. Much like the comedy stylings of Bert and Ernie.
I’ve been pretty fortunate in that I have had good experiences with therapy. I’ve been able to find people whom I can click with fairly quickly. Some people have to go through a few therapists before they find one that works for them. I’ve only had to change because of moving from one state to another. I have, however, had to stop therapy do to conflicts with jobs or a loss of insurance that would cover it. It was never something I wanted but it had to happen. And each time, I’ve noticed that things just get a little harder to manage. There have been points when I’ve needed to have weekly sessions. Then there have been times when I have been able to go weeks in between seeing my therapist. I stay on the medication and use the things I’ve learned to help myself in my day-to-day. Is it an exact process? No, and it probably never will be.
Let me say that I don’t think I’ve met a single person, mentally ill or not, who couldn’t benefit from some form of therapy. Talking does help and sometimes it isn’t an option to go to your friends or family. They are likely just too attached to the issue you’re dealing with. I’m not saying that you should never go to these people, but sometimes therapy turns in to a venting session. Friends and family have this idea of who you are and are not always ready to accept something different. A trained professional can. They can also help you find better ways to talk to the people close to you that probably never even crossed your mind. Am I making sense? Probably not, but then I am not a trained therapist. What I am is someone who very much advocates how important treating mental illness is. What I am is a guy who is happy to have a great family and might not have made it here without getting help. If anything I say removes the stigma someone has in their head when it comes to therapy or mental illness in general, then that is awesome. But if this has merely bored you, fear not. I’ll get back to talking about things like cat barf the next time a post. Everyone wins.