I get asked, at least once a day, "Mommy, how're you feelin'?"
Westley still speaks with a slight Elmer Fudd accent, so it often comes out, "how're you feewin'?" but there's such a weighty sincerity - a genuine interest - behind the words that it doesn't strike me as funny. He really wants to know.
I answer him as honestly as possible, trying to avoid any big, scary (to me) words. Always "a little tired," never "depressed." "Okay," not "overwhelmed." Sometimes even "fine" or "pretty good, buddy."
(I always make a point of asking Westley how he's "feelin'." His response is almost always, "Weegood!" - really good.)
Anyone important to Westley gets asked the question. When my parents come over, he always wants to know: "How're you feelin', MaMay? How're you feelin', Grandad?" I think Rob gets asked how he's feelin' almost as often as I do. It's very dear, actually.
It's also a bit mysterious. I'm not really sure where it came from. Not that "how are you feeling?" is an uncommon question, but it's not one that I use all that often. Additionally, I wonder whether this is something Westley latched onto as part of being in-tune with other people's feelings, or if it's a product of living in such an emotionally-flooded environment.
Is he into feelings because he has a depressed mother? I wonder.
Does Westley know I struggle with depression? He must. Not that he knows what that means, really, but on some level, he must understand...Something. Is. Up. It seems noteworthy that when I have a bad day, Westley does, too. We're connected, whether I like it or not. And while it's very sweet and dear to have a two-and-a-half-year-old pat your knee and say, lovingly, "Don't worry, Mommy," it's also heartbreaking.
I don't want my feelings to be a source of anxiety for my child. I don't want him to be concerned about me. That's so not his role. He's two! His job is to get bigger and learn things. He should not be riding Mommy's emotional roller coaster.
Westley deserves better than a depressed mother. And I'm working on it (every day). It's definitely not a quick-fix situation, though. I'm left worrying that while I'm moving towards "better," the ups and downs along the way are even more challenging to Westley than they are to me. Because while he might "know," he doesn't have the words or the ideas to really understand what's going on.
"How're you feelin'?"
I think he asks not because he wants to know, but because he wants to help...and talking to me about it is the best he can do.