Christmas is often a time where we reflect on the life we have and the life we hope to have moving into the next year. Within the context of my own mental health, I’ve been thinking about the legacy I am leaving my children, and how my mental illness might be shaping them as they step into adulthood. There are days when it can become difficult to see that I am leaving them anything positive at all.
But here’s the thing about being a parent with mental illness: our kids live in the real world of mental illness. They’re going to learn about life much faster and more deeply than their peers who do not. And yes, there are downsides to this but I want to encourage you (and myself) to look at the other side of the coin.
Being a child of a parent with mental illness provides our kids with the compassion and insight needed to care for others who may need support and despite the reality of bad days my two boys have often reassured me that my struggles have helped them have more patience with others, stand alongside their friends when times are tough and give themselves some breathing space when they find things getting on top of them.
They’ve also told me that my drive to be well and my insatiable need to educate myself in order to stay well has given them the courage to do the same and work toward the lifelong journey of overall health and wellness.
On top of this, they’ve also said that the way in which my husband and I treat each other and treat them as sons have taught them what it means to be men of substance. To be able to leave them with a legacy that focuses on building others up, living a healthy life and loving one another is all I have ever hoped to give them.
What an incredible privilege to know that these are some of the things our boys have learned through our struggles.
It’s so humbling to realise that what matters most to them is not the tangible and regular, but the deep and meaningful. They’ve not cared about when the washing got put away or how long the dishes have been in the sink. They’ve not noticed the dust or worried about the clutter. They’ve watched two people support each other through some very difficult times, loving, forgiving, learning, giving, supporting.
Put the dishes down. Leave the bills. Let the washing sit in the basket a little longer.
Sit with your beloved kids. Let them hold you when you’re not doing well and let them see you at your best when you are well too.
Because we only get one life. And the dishes won’t be crying at your funeral. 🙂
Blessings for you today and always,