“Count to twenty,” I told her.
I went and hid in my classic spot behind the curtains … leaning into the windows just enough that the flowery drapes wouldn’t stick out and reveal where I was.
I heard my then-two-year-old daughter picking whatever numbers she could think of before finally screaming “TWENTY” about eight seconds later.
She ran through the house like two year olds do when they are the “seeker” — frustrated almost immediately when I was nowhere in her sight, begging me to reveal where I was.
Frankly, I wanted her to know too. It wasn’t comfortable where I was hiding.
So I stuck my foot out and tapped it on the floor to trigger a sound that would send her in my direction.
Her footsteps got louder as she came to the window. She broke open the curtains with a laughter that I’m sure the person walking their dog outside could hear.
She had found me.
And she had done it with the same joy that I did when I found me too.
Because for years — early in this parenting journey — I was hiding behind a curtain, contorting myself just enough that no one could see me. Hiding my sadness. Hiding my anxiety. Hiding my chaotic thoughts. Hiding my feelings of unworthiness.
The difference? There were no seekers.
And there were no seekers because they didn’t think I was hiding. They thought my forward-facing joy was real, and had no idea that I was wrapped in a drape of perfection in order to play the role of the “happy, grateful” mom that society told me I should be.
There were no seekers … until I stuck my foot out and started tapping it.
Until I told my husband I thought I needed a therapist. TAP.
Until I broke down to my mom in tears and told her I feared I would never be as good to my kids as she was to me. TAP.
Until I admitted to my friend that I had no idea who I was anymore even though I had previously told her I had never been happier. TAP.
Until I told my sister about my anxious thoughts. TAP.
Until I started writing on the internet to let people know my life wasn’t as perfect as I had been portraying it. TAP.
The footsteps became louder as the people I loved realized I needed them to be seekers. I needed them to help ME find ME and seek the happiness within myself.
Their love, support and loyalty led to the internal strength I needed to be vulnerable — and finally be unafraid to have the curtains pulled back.
Because I don’t want to hide anymore.
I WILL NOT hide anymore.
No one has to count to twenty to find me.
The game’s over, friends…
I’m right here.