The other day someone asked me what my biggest fears were for my children. There were so many things I could have said. I worry that they'll struggle in school or the workplace. I worry about the dangers of the big wide world and want to keep them safe at all times from the scary things that are out there. I worry when their feelings get hurt and when they leave for school with a sad face. What if they have the wrong priorities? Choose the wrong husband? Drive too quickly?
I'd better stop worrying before I get depressed just imagining everything that could happen.
That's when it hits me. I know what my biggest fears are for my girls.
I've struggled with depression and anxiety for all of my adult life, and certainly the entire nine years that someone has called me "Mom." There were times that I couldn't focus on the things that had to be done for work, around the home, or even with the kids, because I was so exhausted from getting up and out of bed. I cried often. I fought with my husband too much. I was sad.
I don't want my daughters to struggle with or because of my depression. I don't want them to remember me when I was at my worst, before I found a successful long-term treatment. I don't want them to remember me as a bad mom because I struggled.
I don't want them to suffer from depression and anxiety themselves.
I know that I have no control over that. As a parent, and as an adult, I've learned that almost all of my worry is wasted. All I can do is hope that if they do see me struggle with depression, they see how I've coped, too. If one day, they struggle with mental health issues, they'll also know that there's help out there for them. Maybe they'll turn to me.
I love them more than anything in the world. I feel blessed that I had a supportive family and was able to get help and get my life back on track. My days with my girls are filled with smiles and happiness and activity and attention. I have loads of great qualities that I know my daughters would be lucky to have.
But it still scares me. It will probably always scare me.
Kelly Herdrich is a Yahoo Shine Parenting Guru. She lives abroad with her husband and three daughters, and she's (occasionally) blogging, (regularly) designing knitwear, and (constantly) promoting her first novel.