By Kimberly Moran
With Mother’s Day happening this weekend, I wanted to pause and recognize moms across Ontario in our communities.
This Mother’s Day, I am thinking about the moms that do such an extraordinary job parenting a child or youth with mental health issues. You are on 24/7 and it is draining – and often, you get no thanks at all.
I would like to thank you.
I know how hard it is. Parenting kids is tough, but I think this is extreme parenting. I can relate because my family has experienced this while supporting my young daughter through mental illness. At times, my daughter would become so needy that she needed me, what felt like, all the time. I know moms whose children have acted aggressively and hurt them, physically and mentally. But they stuck by their kids – even when it was extremely hard. Moms are heroes, really.
I know it is hard right now, especially when your school doesn’t provide respite. These have been, undoubtedly, hard days. In many ways, the people who make up our villages can’t lean in the way they normally would because of social distancing. Many of you are trying to keep work going, maintain your households, parent your kids, and homeschool them. On top of it, you are trying to maintain mental wellness in your family – not an easy feat under these circumstances.
Many moms are shouldering loads that are heavier than normal – and even though you are doing your best, sometimes it might feel like it’s just not enough. I’m hearing from a lot of moms in my network that they feel like they aren’t getting it right, and I understand how that feels.
I know that I felt that I never got it right, that I was either too rigid or too permissive. But, I have to say, now that I can look at our experience through the rear window, that I did as best as I could in the situation – and that is good enough. And you are too, are good enough.
And, you are not alone.
Children’s Mental Health Ontario (CMHO) recently worked with Addictions and Mental Health Ontario (AMHO) to conduct a poll through Ipsos to check in on the mental health of families. A lot of parents are reporting some drastic behaviour changes they are seeing in their kids. Parents report that children are acting out more than usual, constantly feeling sad or withdrawn, or not sleeping enough to the point that it’s affecting their day-to-day. Some change is certainly normal, but drastic likely means you need help.
Please know that help is available.
Help is available from your child and mental health experts who can talk to your child or you, or both. CMHO child and youth mental health centres are open in communities across Ontario, and while you can not see them at their usual office, they are offering service via online and phone. Many have virtual walk-in options. They can help you determine whether what your child is doing/feeling is normal or if they need more help.
Reach out. You know best.
For Mother’s Day, I hope that you can find a moment to celebrate you and acknowledge that these are indeed challenging days – and you are doing your best.