Susan talks about the picture book: ‘Where did Mommy’s Smile Go?’ written by Kim Fluxgold & illustrated by Shawna Smoke, published on Amazon.ca, 2019
- Susan Schwartz
From a title like the one here, what might you expect? Upon reading the front cover page, we see a mom and daughter enjoying a picnic and nature together. Both seem so happy, but as you read further into this powerful and touching picture book, we see that the little girl on the cover is one of a family of three children and mom and dad. Mom seems to be the perfect mom, helping to wipe away 'tears' and 'fears', reading bedtime stories, teaching 'right from wrong', making ‘special treats to eat’, helping with friendships, ‘loyalty and kindness’, encouraging her children to ‘always try and do their very best’, and being a cheerleader at her children’s sports’ events, but then gradually day by day, the mom’s behavior starts to change in a ‘sad and strange’ way....
She cried a lot and stayed in bed all day…and sometimes she would go away for a stay in the hospital. Dad finally explained that mom’s ‘heart and brain were in a lot of pain’…and ‘her sadness was an illness called depression’. The little girl needed to be reassured that she was not the cause, and she was given hope that her mom’s illness would one day go away. This message is one of sharing understanding and hope about the illness of depression. It is indeed ‘oh so real’ and a challenging issue in our society.
I remember that during my childhood, I encountered a few people who were affected by mental break-downs where they ended up spending time in a hospital receiving medications and treatments. However, this was a stigma which we were told by family members and friends not to discuss. I still recall the hush-hush and shame when this topic or their names came up.
In our CREATING THE DYNAMIC CLASSROOM: 5 Must-Haves for Teachers, 4th Edition, in BOOK 1: Creating an Inclusive Classroom Atmosphere, Mindy and I include information for teachers and parents about Mental Health & Student Well-Being. We offer ideas, strategies, and excellent resources to use to help shed light on this issue. More attention needs to be provided in schools to help students who themselves might be going through hard times mentally and emotionally, as well as to help them deal with family members who might be battling depression. Wishing you all the very best!