I hear this one a lot lately: I’m scared of all the memories I’m missing out on because I’m sick. And honestly, I feel ya. I spent 3 1/2 years living in a separate state from my husband and daughter so I could go to college. That’s 3 and some years of missed moments, like preschool, kindergarten, plays, all sorts of firsts, and so on.
And now that my mental health has taken a turn for the worse, I’m living everyday with the fear that I’m missing out on even more.
So how do we prevent missing out on everything important even when we’re feeling at our worst?
Just before Mother’s Day, we talked about a tricky subject, parenting guilt. For a lot of us, it’s such a natural part of life that we don’t necessarily even notice it. Guilt over mistakes, not being as amazing as that other parent, over missed moments because our illness eats away at our life. We have a lot of regrets.
But that’s something we don’t have to live with. It is possible to find those moments to connect with our kids even when we’re in a bad place. It is possible to parent without those missed moments. Even without regret.
I went into parenthood with a lot of confidence. “Parenting guilt” wasn’t on my radar at all. After all, I’d spent a lot of time honing my skills on my younger siblings since I was the oldest child, and wasn’t guilt a by-product of failing at the basics? I knew the basics. Diapers? I’ve had that on lockdown. Nursing? Well, that’s easy! Just give the baby the boob, right? Sleep, cuddles, burping, and all that? Yup, no problem. I was ready!
We’re all going to be too busy tomorrow to have any chance of reading a blog post, so I’m jumping ahead a little and posting today! First off, I really hope tomorrow turns out to be an amazing day for you! Usually, we would spend the day getting ready for a massive meal with friends in the area, but this year everyone’s off to see family. What that means is we’re actually going out to eat with Morgan’s family. No cooking for us! And no leftovers!
Yeah, I’m excited. 🙂
You know what else? I think this is a great time to talk about the importance of family traditions. So, here we go!
Traditions are what we remember
Let’s start with my favorite reason family traditions are important. They are what we remember! I don’t know about you, but those traditions are what stuck in my mind from my childhood. They’re the bright points when things really sucked, because no matter where we were, we still did our best to keep hold of them.
Traditions are an important way to build strong bonds and memories with our children (honestly, with everyone in our family). I can guarantee, as silly as it may seem, that morning tradition of tickling them awake will stick with them, even after they outgrow it. The weekly tradition of going to see the grandparents will, too. They might grumble and moan, but as they get older, those times will become precious. Let’s face it, traditions stick in our minds.
Traditions give us a sense of belonging
The other key part of building traditions is that they make us feel like we belong. Knowing that on Saturday Dad is going to make pancakes tells us we are loved and cared for. Having a Christmas stocking on the mantle tells us we’re part of the family. Making the mashed potatoes shows us we are part of something bigger.
Being a part of family traditions tells us we are family. Knowing you’re part of a family, unsurprisingly, is very important for a person’s mental health.
Traditions connect us to our history
This isn’t the case for everyone, but family traditions are an important part of our history. Some traditions we build on our own, but others can date back through generations. In the midwest, you might find a tradition of lefse at Christmas. Maybe Grandma used to make it every year and for you, Christmas just isn’t right without it. Or maybe your unintentional family tradition is being stuck politely listening to yet another tale of Grandpa’s youth.
Whatever it is, those traditions connect you to your history. The history of your family, your culture, or even something like your hometown.
The Importance of Family Traditions
Let’s face it, tradition binds us together. Whether it’s about remembrance, a sense of belonging, or your own history, it’s an important part of who you are.
So keep that in mind the next time Grandpa traps you in a corner to tell you about his weird Aunt’s habit of trapping him in a corner to force him to listen to some other obscure relative’s history. This is your history, too. One day, Grandpa will be gone and you won’t be able to ask him questions about where he came from. I can guarantee you won’t forget or regret those moments.
And with that, have a wonderful Thanksgiving! Remember and cherish your traditions, no matter how big or small. They are part of who you are!
It’s been a hard day. Let’s be honest here, it’s been a hard week. There’s a lot of stuff I don’t really want to dwell on, but to summarize: Emotions are high, energy is low, outside things are going wrong, and, oh, panic attacks suck. But when you’re a parent, you just have to push through the pain. Life keeps moving, yeah?
But sometimes it all goes wrong.
We all struggle sometimes when it comes to life. I mean, you can’t stop your car breaking down or the dishwasher exploding. That’s just how it works, right? Okay, sure, you can do some things to reduce the risk, but ultimately things are just going to go to crap now and then.
In my case, we had a batch of really emotional days here. When I get really moody, I tend to isolate. Admittedly, sometimes that’s really helpful, but others it makes things worse. The other side effect is that my mood tends to get absorbed by everyone else. So, a bitchy Hana makes for a bitchy Mike and Morgan. When I’m depressed, suddenly everyone else is depressed.
Wanna guess why I hide?
Add it to it a bunch of random stuff going bad and a couple fights, and… well, you get a panic attack. Actually, I don’t really know where the panic attack came from. That’s just my best guess.
So I push through the pain.
In this case, it was quite literal. Yesterday I had a panic attack much like the one that sent me to the hospital. I was in the car when it hit – clenching chest, knotted neck, difficulty breathing. The first time this happened, I seriously thought I was dying. The pain was so intense, it felt worse than childbirth (with no painkillers…). So, when I say it hurt, I mean it.
The problem was, we were on our way to get a whole bunch of errands done, so there wasn’t a lot of room for coddling myself. I had to push through the pain and get stuff done.
Now, is this healthy? Probably not, but it’s a problem pretty much every parent faces at some point, regardless of mental health status. You get a cold? The kids still need to get up and ready for school. You only got two hours of sleep? I’m sorry, but there’s parent teacher conferences today and you can’t just skip those. Day three of a depression bad enough you can only eat the bread sitting on the counter? That’s rough. Kids still need dinner, and no, they can’t just have bread.
What can we do?
It’s an important question. What can we do about the terrible stuff that doesn’t seem to care we have obligations in life? Sadly, not much.
I know. We want to hear “Of course there’s a handy trick that makes it all better!” But there isn’t. Does that mean we’re completely out of luck and destined for a life of misery and pain? No.
There’s no miracle cure, true, just like there’s no miracle cure for our illnesses. That doesn’t meant we are powerless to ease the struggle. We can’t keep our car from breaking down eventually, but we can do preventative things to make it less likely and be better prepared for when it happens. If you know it’ll happen eventually, you have a better idea how to prepare.
So, let’s listen to our doctors and get rest, eat well, exercise as able, and all that jazz. Practice those coping skills. Create a crisis plan. Be around loved ones and make time for the things that bring you true joy. Then, the next time you have to push through the pain, you’ll be ready for it. You’ll have help.
We can get through this together.
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If you’re at all like me, you know exactly what I’m talking about. Halloween – a time filled with nightmares and fear… and guilt. Sure, there’s candy and costumes and parties and stuff to look forward to. I personally love handing out candy every year, and there’s that tradition of watching (not too) scary movies on that wonderfully creepy night. All in all, it’s a lot of fun! Once you get there, anyway. The weeks leading up, however, are always full of the Halloween guilt.
Not sure what I mean? Well, let’s think about this…
Obviously, I’m here to write about speaking out about life with chronic mental illness. That isn’t changing, but I think it’s important to look at one reality we live with every day. No matter how much we value speaking out, we still frequently “hide the crazy” to function in the mundane world. If you’ve lived with depression for a while (or anything like it), you know what I mean. Imagine the following:
Person 1: How’re you?
Person 2: Oh, ya know. It’s been a good day so far. Had my coffee, so I’m ready to face the day. You?
Person 1: I’m fine (or, alternately, I’m good).
So, which one is living with depression on a daily basis? Well, actually, it could be either.
Okay, folks…before I get too far into this, it bears mentioning that I am (obviously) not a professional! In all of this, I can only speak from personal experience so please take all of the advice given here as it’s meant: from a friend to a friend. Now that all of that is out of the way, let’s get to it!
Talking to your kids about health issues is never easy. We struggle with what to say, how to say it, and when. How much should we share? Do they really need to know the details? When should we tell them something is wrong? As soon as we learn about it? After we’ve had time to process it ourselves?
The truth is, only you can really know the answer to these questions. You know your children better than anyone and so you will know what information they can handle and how best to share it. Still, there are some things that remain consistent no matter the kid, and there are some things that I’ve learned along the way, too. That’s what I’m here to share!
It happens to every parent. You’re going about your day when you suddenly notice the massive pile of clothes in the middle of the floor. And then you see the juice on the counter because someone didn’t bother putting it away. And then, it’s the chewed up pen that the dog got to, and the baby is screaming, and you have to make dinner but there are no pans, and, and, and. And suddenly, you snap.
“That’s it! I’m done! Do your own dirty work from now on,” you say, stomping off to your room and slamming the door.