Even as a child, my hopes and dreams for my future always centered on being a mother. Life didn’t disappoint and I was blessed with 3 beautiful boys. From the minute I found out I was pregnant with my first child I was totally and completely bound up in motherhood.
I loved being pregnant and feeling my body grow and change with the precious life growing inside. I can remember the first whisper of movement and imaging who my child would be. When my first son was born and placed in my arms I cannot even begin to describe the feeling that overcame me. For the first time, I truly knew what it was to love someone totally, completely and with every fiber of my being. There was nothing I wouldn’t do for this precious, perfect child.
As he began to grow and change, I found joy in each new phase. There is nothing that comes close to experiencing life through the eyes of your child. You see the world differently—things you used to take for granted become new and exciting—A truck! Wow! A garbage truck, even more exciting! A plane! Unbelievable!
Soon, I gave birth to 2 more boys and my life was a whirlwind! I loved it and was so grateful. 3 perfect little boys who kept me busy from morning till night and made life a wonderful adventure.
As time passed, I realized my children were not perfect—but instead, perfectly imperfect. They are unique individuals with gifts and quirks and I began to understand that they were born complete beings whose true selves were revealed more and more with each passing day. As their mother the most important thing I could do was to accept them as they are, not try to make them into something I may have hoped they would be.
As time passed, it became apparent that my middle son, T.J. was going through something I didn’t understand. This amazing, sensitive, intelligent, funny, out-going boy was showing a side of himself that I didn’t recognize. I didn’t realize he was battling depression. His beautiful mind was taken hold of by this dark and desperate illness that we didn’t understand. That illness stole his life and left us heartbroken and reeling when he took his life on December 1, 2010.
I have since learned so much about depression and mental health disorders. I believe depression was not a choice T.J. made, but was part of his genetic make-up. I believe we could have battled his illness and brought him through to mental wellness, but we ran out of time and lacked the understanding and awareness that was needed.
In order to accept our children for who they are and help them to thrive in their uniqueness, it is critical that we have a basic understanding of how common mental health disorders are and what we can do to help our children if they are impacted in some way. Our mental health is as important as our physical health. Both need to be tended to and if something goes wrong with either one we need to seek help.
I am now the mother of a 24-year-old, a forever 16-year-old and a 20-year-old. I am much more aware of many things and find peace in the understanding that my life has been enriched and blessed by my 3 perfectly imperfect children. My hope is that our society will continue to grow and change so that mental health is recognized on the same level as physical health so we can support individuals battling mental health issues and help them come through to a place of wellness and peace. We are all perfectly imperfect!