Being sick really isn’t any fun at all. And being sick when you have other little (or big) people you are responsible for is even worse. Well that was my week last week. It was only really a good 24 hours that I was physically sick with a violent and ugly case of gastro….but it was enough to pretty much write off the whole week. (It didn’t help that 5 out of our 7 family members got it too…so on the plus side, every item of linen and bedding is fresh and clean and the floors have been washed numerous times!)
When lying in my bed, so thankful for my mother who slotted right into proceedings, and a cousin who had made all the kids lunches, it was kind of bizarre sitting back and listening to the goings on of your family, but having no input at all. It was a bit like wanting to help, give advice, join in and be a part of it, but really not caring enough to be the slightest bit interested. It got me thinking about all those parents who live daily with debilitating and ongoing mental and physical illnesses. All of those who have no-one to slot right in and take over the daily tasks when energy and enthusiasm are at rock bottom. How, apart from not being capable of doing the chores and tasks that go into raising a household, there are many that are missing out on the joy of experiences that family life can provide. And not to mention the instability that this can create for those children.
2.85 million children in the US are living with a parent who is battling or recovering from cancer.
In Australia, 1 in 5 parents with dependant children are living with a mental illness. These statistics highlight just how many parents and their children are living in environments that are not always stable and predictable.
Last year I took part in running a support group for children whose parents were living with mental illness. Not only was this a great social outlet for these kids but it also gave them some strategies to help deal with all sorts of circumstances. They relished in being able to talk about the different diseases and conditions, as well as trying to get a perspective of what their parents were facing. It was a also a chance for them to acknowledge that no-one was to blame for their parents illness. It was also important they realise that it was through no fault of their own as to why their parents can’t always provide everything that they need.
So if you do know anyone or you yourself are suffering at the moment it is so important to seek out the appropriate help. These parents need help with daily chores. They need to provide someone to talk to their kids about the fear and confusion that can accompany living with a parent with illness. They need strategies for their kids to help themselves ‘escape’ the times when parents are at their lowest. They need access to emergency numbers that are easy for them to understand. There are a whole range of services available (and of course there could be much much more), but many times parents are not always up to seeking them out.
So whilst my one week of a gastro infected household is absolutely nothing in comparison to what many live with on a daily basis, it did serve as a reminder to be grateful for the good health we are experiencing that allow us to competently take on the many tasks and to enjoy all the menial and day to day chores that we are often found complaining about. So for today at least, I was happy to wake up, make the lunches, put the breakfast dishes away and pop on that first load of washing…. grateful that I can.