So it’s Mother’s Day. Today I’m spending it running back and forth to our local dance eisteddfod for my baby boy Seth (my 14yr old baby who’s much taller than me). I dropped him off early this morning and then grabbed a quick bite to eat with my hubby. We sat down and I mentioned I might write a little Mother’s Day blog today…. I then erupted into tears, blubbering in the middle of the cafe like a total weirdo….. I burst into tears because this is what came to my mind and my heart.
My heart is full of emotion this Mother’s Day as I reflect on the journey of so many millions of brave unsung heroes. The silent little courageous soldiers that receive no accolades or medals or bravery awards. They are the children of mums who suffer chronic illness, whether it be mental or physical. Yes, it’s mum who has the diagnosis but it’s the whole family who live with the pitfalls that come with that brutal reality.
The little ones behind the scenes who go under the radar, the ones on the front line – yet no-one ever asks if they are ok, or if they need a hand. I can only share my story but I know it imitates millions of you out there who are traveling along the same courageous road.
These children are more than just children of mothers with illness, which is their common label. They are also carers, not by choice but birth. Carers without the pay, without the title and without the support. They not only care for their mums but their siblings and themselves; writing themselves late notes for school – not because they are trying to wag, but for a multitude of reasons unknown to their teachers and friends. It might be because they ran out of clean clothes. Dad was at work, so they had to call mum at the hospital to ask how to use the washing machine. They are late to school because they had to help mum get dressed and then mum had a dizzy spell on the way to the car.. she had to lie down before she could drive again. They are the ones who wave their mum good bye at the school gate hoping she’ll be ok and make it home safely. On the really tough days they find it hard to concentrate in school, they get in trouble for not paying attention. They carry this burden throughout their school day, a burden that no-one knows about or ever asks about.
They are the ones who have a strength and empathy beyond their years, they comprehend with great depth why it is, you do not judge a person on surface value, as they understand first hand that there is always more to a person than meets the eye.
These beautiful little children and big children often put their needs aside, they make small of the things they can’t do and instead of complaining they say, it’s ok mum. When really it’s not ok, but it just is, the way it is. They have so many needs and wants of their own but instead say, “Can I pray for you mum?” “Can I get you anything mum?” They sacrifice sleep overs and holidays. They wish for mum to be home to simply tuck them into bed but instead they settle for a goodnight phone call to mum in hospital.
They don’t complain what’s for dinner, they are just grateful for dinner and that mum is able to sit at the dinner table.
I remember many years ago in a selfish moment of neediness, I asked the boys if they could change anything about me what would they change. Arlan spoke up and said, “I know I’m probably supposed to say I would take away your illness, but I wouldn’t. If you had never been sick then we wouldn’t be the amazing family that we are. We are strong because of it.”
So to all the mums out their who feel like failures who are suffocating with guilt that your babies must trudge this overwhelming journey with us. Stop please, as best you can, lay that guilt aside. Whether you believe it or not your kids are becoming incredible humans with profound insight and depth of character that can only come with a life as complicated and at times devastating, as is yours.
To all the children, to my boys, I want to say thank you. I want to say you did a great job. I want to say, I’m sorry it was so hard. I’m sorry it was so lonely. I want to thank you for your selfless sacrifice. I want to thank you for the bedside cuddles and songs you gave to cheer us up on those hard days. I want to thank you for telling me you’re proud of me when all you wanted was a little support yourself. You are my heroes. I am incredibly, incredibly proud to be your mother. It’s not the life I had dreamt for you; but you my darlings are more splendid than I could ever have dreamt of.
Happy Mothers day beautiful ones,
kisses, Meli x
6 thoughts on “unsung heroes”
So many tears Meli, your boys are incredible. YOU are incredible. Thank you for being a voice & speaking up about the hard bits! Love you xxxx
Beautifully put Mel, you are indeed an amazing family.
Sitting here in tears. I could have written this word-for-word. I am experiencing that life now with chronic pain and I grew up with my mum in chronic back pain. Many nights were spent with me trying to get her off the floor in the middle of the night as she’d tried to get to the toilet but got stuck on all fours beside the bed. I would stand there while she used my body and the bed to get to her feet and then she’d hobble and groan to the bathroom. I buckled her beautiful ankle strap shoes for her every morning because she couldn’t reach her feet. And I watched her go to work every day in pain to a job that had her on her feet all day serving customers with her beautiful smile. She taught me strength and endurance. And as you know, Mel, we had other issues to deal with with my dad. It was tough. Yes it was. Not an ideal childhood and certainly not the life my mum dreamed for us. And here I am 40 odd yrs later and I’m in chronic back pain and MY daughters are now doing all those things for me. It is very hard on the kids. I’ve been one and now I’m watching it before my very eyes. My kids have a massive understanding of the world around them far beyond their years. Not to say they don’t have their moments where the stress is too much but together we work through it and have an open line of communication about our emotions. We talk everything out. Mel, this is a fantastic blog post. Chronic pain affects the whole family unit just as equally. It’s about making sure everyone keeps talking to each other about how they’re feeling so no one feels alone in it all. It’s therapy. Brings back the secure feelings our little and big kids need knowing they are heard and considered xo
Writing through tears. Thank you Mel for reminding me as a teacher to look a little more closely, to ask questions, to look for signs, to give love and attention to those who I know are hurting. Bless you beautiful mumma.
Wow …… this got me thinking today Melinda. My ex-husband has struggled with mental illness. For most of our married lives, when the crisis arose, we worked together and our lives were challenging but rewarding. Then the day came when he made the choice to walk away and live in that other world where he was responsible only for himself(on a good day) and much as I struggled, I knew I had to let him go. For our 9 year old daughter at the time, this was an awful shock. His story is his alone to tell from there but our family story (my daughter and I) – that is mine……and it is joyful! My daughter has dealt with so much and it is HER strength that lifted me up, HER love that validated my life journey, HER wisdom that taught me to forgive. Truly – being a mother is God’s greatest blessing – I am grateful every day for the lessons my daughter has taught me. Never feel guilty because without the challenge I know Jasmine would never have grown into the strong, resilient, amazing young woman she is and YOUR boys would not be the kind, caring, loving young men that you have raised. In the midst of turmoil and crisis God’s plan shines through…and I for one am humbled by the journey – much love Mel xx