Moody. I don’t like that word. Moody was a common name my mother called me – constantly. No smiles or laughter from me constituted moody.
When I look back on my not-so-stellar childhood and think about the words – “You’re so goddamned moody,” I shake my head and shudder.
What did I really want to reply to her snide remarks? “I’m not moody, it’s you who makes me miserable, always breaking my spirit. This face is just for you.” But instead, I kept my hurt and resentment to myself because I knew if I didn’t, I’d pay dearly for opening my mouth. It was just easier to stay silent and miserable, using my facial expressions to evoke what I wouldn’t dare say verbally. Certainly, living under those circumstances kept me moody for years. How I didn’t turn out to become a chronically depressed person is nothing short of a miracle.
Growing up walking on eggshells around my mother and HER moods and volatile fits of anger kept me pretty quiet. Being a personal slave to her whims, demands and demeaning created my moods. But I couldn’t tell her that. I craved so badly for her to ever ask me why I looked so unhappy. But I did what was expected of me and kept my laughter and good sense of humor under wraps; revealing my happy side and humor only for others. She never really knew me.
Despite my crappy childhood, I was lucky. I was a thinker, an analyzer, and a planner, living on my dream of leaving home one day. And after I finally did move away from home at 18, Humpty put herself back together again on her very own. I was calmer without living with daily anxiety as I did at home, I devoured self-help books, and fell into a wonderful circle of loving and supportive friends. I met my best friend Zan within a year of moving into my cozy little apartment. She taught me that it was okay to be myself, allowed me to cry out loud, made me feel I was worthy of being loved, and cared about me, especially on those days when I didn’t wear a smile. She was also the first friend I ever had who told me she loved me and taught me to feel comfortable saying those words to others. ‘I love you’ was a phrase uncommon to me.
Between my new friendships and the many books I read, I found myself. I grew to love myself. The big personality I had hidden deep inside bloomed outwardly and I felt my personality radiate wherever I went. I realized then I was not a moody person; I was well-balanced, held no more pent-up anger, and no longer felt I was living in a perpetual state of anxiety. I loved to laugh and make others laugh. And although I may have and still do rant at injustice, I’ll state my ire, get it out of my system, and move on with a smile. From a childhood filled with not being heard or understood and stifling my thoughts, worries and dreams, I grew in all the healthy ways I should have done growing up at home.
And this little insight into my former years leads up to my question, what is wrong with parents who don’t even try to understand the reasons for their child’s behavior?
There’s a reason for a mood – bad or good, there is something behind those moods. People, especially children, wear their hearts on their sleeves. Sure, kids may be sad or mad for trivial issues such as: they didn’t get their way or perhaps they hurt themselves, or they may not be feeling well. But kids who walk around carrying sadness or hurt in their hearts will undoubtedly present themselves displaying signs of hurt, anger, displeasure, nervous habits, and mostly silence. These children need attention. They need love and compassion and a parent to notice and ask questions.
A child shouldn’t be made to suffer in silence with worries and anxieties plaguing them. It’s the parent’s job to notice these behavioral changes in their children. If a well-balanced child is showing continual signs of unhappiness or anxiety, it’s the parent’s job to speak with the child with compassion, giving them the comfort and freedom to speak about what’s on their mind.
A child needs security. They need to know their parents love them. They need to hear their parents tell them they are loved. They need to feel comfortable in knowing if anything is bothering them they can freely talk to their parents without being afraid to confront them or made to feel their problems are insignificant or a burden to their parents. It’s a parent’s duty to know their child and question them when they see their child is unhappy. What they don’t need is name calling, being ignored and left to their own imaginations, wondering why they can’t share their concerns.
I know growing up in my era, parenting didn’t come with an instruction manual, as it still doesn’t today. But in today’s world there is a lot more awareness about child rearing, many books available, and many support groups available to get educated on raising happy, healthy children. I’m not sure whether or not compassion can be taught, but I will add here that having compassion for your child should be the very first prerequisite to entitle a parent to be a parent.
Yes, I say I was lucky because it’s quite common for children who grow up in a disturbing environment to carry their angst and hurt with them throughout their lives. They’ll often remain reserved, sometimes falling into deeper or long-term depression. Some grow up being easily led astray by anyone who offers them a false sense of loving them, and many grow up combative and become bullies because of the resentment embedded deep within their psyches from their underlying hurts.
Emotional damage can take a lifetime to overcome, and for some, they may never get the chance to become mentally stable or be able to experience happiness in their lives. If they’re lucky like me and have a strong will and sense of what is right and what is wrong, and can wade through their childhoods and discover methods and people who can help them grow and nurse their wounds, they’ll have a fighting chance. But sadly, for many, this isn’t always the way things turn out. So, please, give a child a fighting chance of growing up happy and healthy. Have compassion, use patience, spend time with your children, and tell them they are loved.