Today we have a guest post from author Sonja Wasden. She writes beautifully about experiencing mental illness in motherhood.
Ever since I was 5-years-old I dreamed of being a mother. Sitting under a big old oak tree at my childhood home, my cousin and I would spend hours discussing how we’d be the perfect mothers to our future children. Little did I know I would face a mental illness that would make it impossible for me to be the kind of mother I had hoped to be.
I had grand ideas of becoming the type of mom who was fit and well dressed, but that was rarely, if ever, the case. At times I would become so depressed I couldn’t shower for weeks, even staying in the same clothes for up to two weeks at a time. Most days I was too exhausted to get out of bed and tidy our small home. As a result my bed became the place where my kids would meet after school, the place we all lived, eating snacks, doing homework, watching movies, and chatting as a family.
One day while picking up my son from his friend’s house the young boy informed me that his mother counted the number of days she saw me in the same outfit, and today I was on day seven. I lied and said I just bought the same outfit for every day of the week, but he quickly shot back with a question only a child would feel comfortable asking. “Then why do they all have the same dirty spots?” He had me there. But my kids overlooked many of my oddities and loved me despite them.
While raising my kids I constantly worried about the unique experiences they would have being raised by a mentally ill mother. What I did not realize at the time was that kids are resilient if they are loved, and hard things can make them strong.
Since then, I’ve learned that it is OK that I was not the PTA president. It was also OK that my kids did not have home cooked meals every night. In fact more often than not it was cold cereal or maybe Taco Bell if I was really on top of things.
Today I look at my kids and love who they have become despite my challenges. I would not change a single thing about them, and that means I have to be grateful they did not have a perfect mother. I am proud that they have overcome the obstacles of having a mentally ill mother, and I’m also proud that this challenge has made them compassionate and understanding of others with challenges. So, I would say to all mothers, be grateful you are not perfect; it may be one of the many things that builds character and depth in your children.
Sonja Wasden, co-author with her daughter Rachael Siddoway of the book “An Impossible Life“, graduated from Brigham Young University with a Bachelor of Arts in Humanities. She is married and has three children.