I decided tonight to take a break from posting about mental health issues and talk about my kids.
Call me biased, but I think my girls are the most awesome kids. I came home from work and was just watching Rose sleep, thinking how beautiful she is. Today she is 10 months old and soon Sammie will be a teenager.
Every day I become more amazed at their developing personalities. Both have such distinct personalities and know what they want. Even little Rose has such a strong personality already.
I love seeing how my children have somehow picked up and absorbed the better parts of me, even when I feel like a total failure.
I think I could write endlessly about how great my kids are, but I don’t want to turn into one of those crazy obsessed mummies. So I will just share my hopes for them.
I am well aware that both of them are at risk of depression and anxiety, both of them having both parents struggle with mental health issues. But I hope growing up in a home where they are loved and feel safe means they never suffer the way I have. Even though I’d advocate for a good mental health system even if I didn’t have kids, it’s definitely an added reason that I do it – because I want to make sure that if my girls ever do struggle with mental health issues, that they will get the professional support they need when they need it and not go through what I have. I want them to grow up in a world where mental health is taken as seriously as physical health.
I often worry for Sammie, because, even though ever since John and I got married he has loved and cared for her like his own flesh and blood child, what her biological father put her through still effects her. John and I provide her with unconditional love, but I worry it will never 100% the hurt from being abused and then abandoned by her biological father. But we will continue to do our best and I can already see her responding to it with a flourishing self esteem and that she has a healthy self-love that both John and I both struggle to have for ourselves.
And I hope with little Rose, growing up with two loving parents right from the start, that she won’t ever have to go through the hurt that Sammie has been through.
When Rose was born, Sammie was really jealous. Even before Rose was born, in the last few months (when it was physically obvious I was pregnant and Sammie could feel Rose kick) Sammie started to get really worried, even trying to sleep in John’s and my bed a few times. I was able to get her to talk about it, and she told me was really worried I wouldn’t spend time with her anymore. I mean, I saw it coming – she’d been abandoned by her father when a new baby came into his life, it was natural she’d fear the same thing would happen when I had a baby (although strangely enough, she never got jealous of John and never felt displaced in my life by him when we started dating or when we got married – she immediately latched on to him as a father figure). It still was a little bit of a surprise though – she’s one of those kids who wants to spend all her time with her friends and very little time with her parents (except wanting us to come watch her play sport). Other than going to her sporting games, she doesn’t hang out with me much because she’d much rather play with her friends than me.
But either way, it only took a few weeks after Rose was born for Sammie to realise we still loved her the same and would spend just as much time with her – or even more time since I was off for a while on maternity leave. And now she adores her little sister. It’s so adorable watching the two of them together. I think the only time I see Sammie hurt is when Rose is upset and wants me or John and not Sammie, although we keep trying to explain that sometimes babies just want their mummy (or daddy) and not to be hurt by it. I’m sure when Rose is a little older, Sammie will be the first one she goes to – probably the first time John and I start setting rules for Rose!
I actually see Sammie showing much the same emotional reaction that I have learned in psychology that babies have. The whole concept of needing a secure base to explore the world. The best thing for children to get the courage to go out and explore the world is knowing they have loving parents as a base to return to if things go wrong. I see that in Sammie very much – she might not want to spend much time with John and I, but it means the world to her knowing that we are there for her whenever she needs. And sometimes she just needs that time with us to touch base to restore her confidence in exploring the world with her friends.
I think it’s also helped that John is so good at treating Sammie the same as Rose – unless we tell people, they always assume he is her biological father because he is so good with her. Today he took her to her sports game and had a good time interacting with the other parents, which I’m really proud of him for because he’s not really into socialising much at all. It’s a big thing for him to go out like that, and not many guys would do it for their biological children, let alone their step children. It just makes me all the more proud of him for treating Sammie like his own. And she really flourishes from having a father figure who will take the time to come and watch her play sport, and all the other things he does like take her to other activities she does and participate in her autism therapy groups etc.
I realise my girls aren’t perfect. Sammie is a typical teenager – too much interest in boys and too little interest in homework and can get moody (and has PMS!). Rose is still a baby and yet already can be incredibly stubborn and showing signs of toddler tantrums when she doesn’t get her own way. But no one is perfect. I am just proud of them for being smart and decisive. Sammie can have a heart of gold and is very passionate about fairness and is incredibly loyal and loving to her friends. She will stand up when she sees people she cares about being bullied even if it means she gets treated badly for it. I am incredibly proud of her for it. And little Rose is already such a good problem solver, more advanced than most babies her age. She doesn’t let anything hold her back when she wants something.
Anyway, I’m sure everyone has heard enough of how great I think my kids are. For those of you reading this, maybe you’d like to share the great things you see in your kids. Feel free to be proud mummies and daddies and share all the great things about your precious little (and not so little) ones.