It’s pretty nice to be at a point where I can think about what I want for my ‘future’. I didn’t always think I’d have one – I didn’t always want one. I still have days where I don’t. But, generally speaking, I do.
So, what comes to mind when I think about my life five, ten, fifteen years from now? Kids.
Do I want kids? I honestly do not know. If I do have kids, though, it definitely won’t be any time soon.
I need to be realistic and honest with myself. I need to think of the pros and cons. And I can’t be selfish about it. Would I really be able to raise a healthy, stable-minded child, when I can’t even describe myself that way a lot of the time? And even if I did manage it – hopefully, with the help of said child’s paternal figure – would it really be the right thing to do?
Even if I can teach a child right from wrong, how to cross the street safely, how to feed him/herself, etc… do I really want to subject my own flesh and blood to a life of living with me?
Like I said, I need to be honest with myself. And realistic.
Schizo-affective disorder is likely with me for life. And there is no telling whether it will get worse or better, stay the same, or if I might pass it on to future generations. Genetics aside, though, I just don’t know if it’s fair to bring a child into my world of uncertainties.
Looking back at my not-so-distant past, there were periods where I was the child. A grown-up child – the worst kind. I needed to be taken care of. I needed people to watch out for me, to keep me safe, to make sure I was keeping myself healthy and alive.
If I fall into a state like that again, what would happen to that poor babe of mine?
I can say – and part of me believes it – that it wouldn’t happen if I had a child. I’d persevere. I wouldn’t let my mind stop me from taking care of my baby, because my maternal instincts simply wouldn’t allow for it. But is that really true? Would it really all pan out that way? It kind of seems like a naïve way to look at parenting.
But then again, by saying this, am I just furthering the stigma about mental health? Am I just putting myself down?
We’ve all heard the stories about mothers hurting their own children while in a psychotic state. Sometimes, the poor mothers and children don’t survive. Sometimes, they do survive, but are left with a scar and an inability to trust the very person who brought them into the world. This isn’t always a woman who suffered with her mental stability before she had kids. Postpartum depression comes in many forms and severities – mild to downright scary. All this tells me is that having kids is always a risk, regardless of your state of mind beforehand.
So, there are some of the cons. What about the pros?
With me as a mother, I think any child would have a rather open mind. They’d have to. They’d be surrounded by me and my loud opinions, and I’d certainly introduce them to other opinions – even some I don’t necessarily agree with.
They’d grow up with an understanding of life that a lot of kids are likely sheltered from. It isn’t all black and white, and no baby of mine would be a stranger to that knowledge.
They’d grow up with more responsibilities than the average child. But, at the same time, I would baby them more than I probably should. It’d be an interesting mix.
“Come on, you’re 8 months old – make your own dinner!”
“Oohh, come here, let me cuddle you to sleep even though you’re 15.”
I think, especially for me, a very important factor about becoming a mama would be to make sure I had that perfect partner in crime. I’d need a dude with a clear understanding of me and my quirks. He’d need to know how to deal with me at my absolute worst, and he’d need to know how to encourage me to be my absolute best. He’d also need to understand that I’ll have days where I hate him for doing just that. But he’d have to stick to it. I don’t need to be married to him for all eternity – but I do need to know, with confidence, that he’s up for the challenge – and the ultimate reward – of parenthood. With me. For good. But isn’t that the same for everyone?
Finally, the biggest and most important pro of all: that baby would be LOVED. I would love that tiny human with my entire soul and more. I’d shower that munchkin with hugs and kisses and words of affection. I’d embarrass that baby well into their teenage years. I’d bake them their favourite cookies at ungodly hours and I’d always let them crawl into my bed, regardless of how silly the reason. They’d be my entire universe and they’d be well aware of it.
While love is a very important tool in parenting and life in general, it doesn’t solve everything. It can’t pay the bills. Love isn’t going to pull you out of bed when you’re feeling low. Love, sadly, can’t conquer everything in the world we live in. There is a lot that goes into raising a child, and I still don’t know if I’ve got it all in my schizo-self.
I really don’t know what defines a good potential parent. A person could appear to be the strongest and most reasonable person on the planet, but then the responsibility and the feelings of vulnerability that come with parenting may break them down completely. How can you know what kind of person someone will be once their entire life has changed? How can you judge someone’s ability to do something without giving them the opportunity to actually do it?
Unfortunately, though, it seems to me that the people with the strongest opinions on the matter are usually the ones who don’t really have a clue.
Often times, I hear people talk negatively about schizophrenia, bi polar disorder, depression, borderline personality disorder (the list goes on). As soon as I mention I’ve got one – or two, or a combination – of the above listed disorders, they’re extremely surprised, “oh my god! I’m so sorry! You totally don’t seem messed up at all!” they go on about how guilty they feel about all the nasty things that just escaped their mouth.
But maybe, if you’re so surprised, and you feel that guilty about what you just said, you really don’t know what you’re talking about.
I think there are a lot of factors to consider, and I think there are a lot of uneducated people with skewed opinions on the matter who spread the wrong kinds of information.
So, what do you think about it all? Should the mentally ill be parents?