-“Doctor…At nights I hide in the bathroom—so my children can’t hear me cry.”
Veronica X. is a nice, attractive, intelligent and hard-working mother of two small children who has had to shoulder the entire burden of her household all alone as her husband is serving a two years-sentence for a minor offense. Her family cannot help her economically and only her mother is pitching in. Oftentimes feeling overwhelmed by all her responsibilities, she puts her kids to bed, finishes her household duties and then locks herself in the bathroom to well up at ease. It is an almost daily ritual that she needs to go through in order to decompress her strained psyche and get some needed sleep.
When she was telling me that anecdote in my office, I immediately felt the surge into my conscience of a stampede of sweet-sour childhood memories. In 1965 my father Mario—God bless his soul—was arbitrarily jailed for a few months to force him to pay an outstanding debt—a barbaric maneuver. My dear mother Gladys became extremely depressive and our grandmother Yolanda took us in her large suburban home so she could rest and recover. My brother and I were only 10 and 11 years old at the time but we knew that something was sorely amiss, especially when we heard her crying in the loo late at night. Those memories were painfully seared in our subconscious.
Modern women, who are employed full-time in demanding jobs, usually have to return home to complete the family tasks with little or no help from their live-in partners; to make maters worse they might not have the support offered by the female friendship. They decided to stoically hide their deep feelings of angst from impressionable children and from some relatives that might not completely share her opinions. In our digital age where most of the rooms in a house are invaded by a pinging or noisy device, they have to retrench to the bathroom as the improvised refuge for a safe, solitary exteriorization.
As sons and spouses of these most devoted women there is something we can do. We can wait until they get out of their hiding place and hug them tenderly in silence. We can tell them how much we appreciate their work and what a difference it makes in our lives. We can give them a lot of affection and moral support. And yes, we can offer to share more of the burden of homemaking with her. Chose the way you want to help (I love to cook for example) but do not ignore her suffering and extend her a hand. She’s waiting.
What do you think? Please tell us.
Don’t leave me alone.