To my dear Mister Man and Sweet Pea,
Been thinking about writing a letter like this to you two for awhile now. Given the fact that you both conked out early tonight and I got my workout finished before 9pm, now is as good a time as ever.
These past four years with the two of you in our life, have been the best (and most challenging) years your Daddy and I have ever experienced, and they have not passed without some majorly scary ups and downs. When I say "ups", I really mean manic. My "downs" were before you both were born.
You see, your mommy has Bipolar Disorder.
It's something I probably won't explain to you until you are much older. You don't see me take my medication every day, but you have been with me to see my psychiatrist. You both just love the toys she has there at her office, and now when I tell you that "Mommy has to go to the doctor," you always ask if you can play with the toys at the office. Last time I had to go "to the doctor" I was referring to my gynecologist and she only had a plastic uterus to play with which wasn't as fun, was it?
Right now my illness is mainly hidden from you, but there are times its characteristics creep out of me in the ways I sometimes respond to your behaviors. There are times when I may yell a little too loud, or in a nasty way complete with a scowl on my face. Maybe it's just part of being a little worn out from the whole Stay-At-Home-Mom thing, but I believe that my occasional outbursts have something to do with my condition. My patience is so thin you could poke a hole in it with a feather. Not all the times, but sometimes. Especially when it's the week before my period. Not fun. Not fun for anyone in this household.
Your Daddy and I have worked so hard together to manage this thing though. We're beating it, he and I. We're doing it together. He, by tolerating my moods and by hugging and holding me when I need the extra love and feeling of security only his arms can provide. And me, by taking my meds, seeing my doctor and therapist, and eating right and exercising.
Whenever I do have a moment where I lash out and am unkind to either of you, I immediately feel full of regret and wish I could go back 10 minutes in time to re-do what happened again so that I could handle the situation differently, more lovingly. But I guess that's kindof what parenting is all about; learning from our mistakes and doing things better next time.
I try to make up for any mean/sad/bigfatwettearsrollingdownthecheeks situations by smothering you with hugs and kisses after we've resolved whatever we were arguing about. In fact, I read an article recently online that said that kids need 12 hugs a day and I have started to work hard to exceed that with each of you. I feel so complete when I have your arms wrapped around me, and the funny thing about it is that when I ask one of you for a hug, the other usually immediately runs over and joins in and we have a group hug going on which is so special to me. Love, love, LOVE those moments. I crave more of them every day that goes by.
I love my time at home with you two and I wouldn't trade it for anything in the world. I'm feeling nervous about going back to work next week, even though it is from home and it's only part-time, because it's going to take away from precious hours I spend with my loves. Mister Man, I may not get to sneak into your room at the end of naptime, when I see that you're just starting to stir on the monitor, to curl up with you and snuggle and take long whiffs of your hair and neck. Sweet Pea, I may not get to sing you "Twinkle, Twinkle" before naptime, and rock you until your sleepy eyelids start to drift closed. I'm hoping that by working my part-time hours right smack in the middle of the day that the only thing I'm going to be missing is naptime, but the more I think about it, the sadder I get because even when you don't sleep, Little Man, I still enjoy the quiet time we have together while your sister is snoozing. Even if I seem frustrated that you're awake because I'm not able to get my housework done. I secretly don't mind.
There is so much more I want to say about how I'm living with this illness every day and how I'll explain it all to you in the future, but this first installment of my letters to you both is just the beginning, just what is on my mind at this moment in time. How you both have made our family so much richer even in the midst of learning to cope with something as complicated and intense and draining as a mental illness. I am so incredibly thankful that your Daddy and I took the leap we did back in the fall of 2007 to start our family. I couldn't imagine us any other way now.
I love you both to the moon and back, and am loving watching you grow up more and more every day.
Try to slow down a little because it seems like it's going by just a smidge too fast. 'Kay?
Keep loving me back, even if we may have our tough days. The days when we yell at each other. The days when there may be tears. Because the good days far, far outweigh the bad ones. And they always will.
All my love and kisses,