This is a story about motherhood written by my younger sister, Tiffany, who has a diagnosis of schizoaffective disorder, bipolar type. Tiffany has shared regular stories on my site since February 2015. The purpose of her writing is to raise awareness of what it’s like to live with mental illness. I’m hoping her stories will help readers recognize that we all have hopes, dreams, challenges and mountains to climb regardless of our mental health status. If you’d like to read the stories I’ve written about Tiffany’s journey and all the stories she’s shared on this site, check out Tiffany’s Story. Without further ado, here’s Tiffany.
As a mother, sacrifices are made, but rewards are received.
My independence and freedom as an individual has changed since having two kids. To name just a few, I have sacrificed chill time, sleeping, food, travel and money. Because of these sacrifices, I have become a more well rounded and happy individual. Many times, I spin around in circles, pacing the floor, thinking “what’s next?!” My responsibility as a parent is to keep these kids alive, healthy and happy. Sometimes we do things we don’t necessarily want to do because we are making sacrifices for our kids. To most, the sacrifices we make as mothers are worth it. I have been praised for my parenting skills and how I’m raising my children, but I am terrified almost every day that I’m failing at my lifelong job.
As most of you know, I attempt to manage my mental health issues on a daily basis. Sometimes I just want to give up, run away from life and everything involved with it. Sometimes people can really pull at our hearts and impact the way in which we see life. I was in the waiting room at my psychiatrist’s office, and a friendly guy in a wheelchair passed me. I think he noticed me smiling at him, so he came back to talk. He told me that he was very happy because he recently lost 50 or more pounds. He told me about his mom who has schizophrenia. He proceeded to tell me that she gave him up for adoption because she always thought he was going to die. That mother made a sacrifice because she was doing what she felt was best for her child. He was one happy dude, despite everything he has experienced and is dealing with in life. As mothers, our priorities become what is best for our children. We sacrifice a lot, but always seem to be rewarded in the end.
Let’s talk more about managing the sacrifices we make as mothers.
I used to really enjoy “chill time” with friends and by myself. That chill time does not happen very often anymore. If I want to chill, I find myself needing to find someone to watch the kids. So chill time is more of a dream to me now. Sometimes the kids and I have chiIl time together. I used to have too much chill time to myself back in the days. Now, when my friends and I chill, we usually bring the kids along with us. It’s just not the same as being alone, but the rewards are amazing. My six-year-old daughter has often wished I would be more of a hands-on mother, playing with her. I have found that playing simple games with her, like see how many skittles fall out of the containers, works! I have learned to chill with my kids. I still appreciate the time away from them, when that happens. But I am rewarded with every little kiss, smile, hug and I love you.
Chill Time Advice for Moms: Chill for a while. Just walk away from the mess for a day or two. The mess’ll still be there to take care of at a later time. Take advantage of people who say they want to help out with the kids. Chill time is needed! Breathe when you can.
As a mother, I also sacrifice sleeping time, which kind of goes along with chill time. Before I had children, I would lay in my bed sometimes for days. As mothers, that is no longer an option. The sacrifice I have made by not laying around all day has really helped me emotionally. I am usually productive in some way, each and every day. My kids also have sleeping issues. They started crawling out of their cribs around age 1 1/2, so I was scared of leaving them alone in their room. Now we all usually sleep in the same room. We sleep where we can sleep. I hope to break them of that habit.
Sleep Advice for Moms: Sleep when you can. Make sure the kids are tired out and don’t have sugar or caffeine in them at bedtime. Sleep while they sleep.
As mothers, we often sacrifice food so our children can eat. Sometimes I don’t eat because I want the kids to be fed and happy. I’m not the best cook, nor does our family have a lot of extra money. I often tend to take the easy route and go out for meals when we can, but I try to choose healthy options for my children. We are working on some issues at our house like appropriate foods to eat! We are helped out with food when we are running low. We get food from a place called WIC. They help us with essentials, like milk. I was told at my son’s last check up with WIC that he needed more healthy, calorie-filled foods like avocado. There are also food events around our area for people who want to get large amounts of food for an inexpensive price. At one of those events, a family gets a large box of food for around $15. Another option is the food shelf, which we don’t visit often. The line and the wait time is very long. My mom is a wonderful cook, so she cooks food for my family often, too.
Food Advice for Moms: Look for sales at the grocery store, buy in bulk, and be aware of free and inexpensive food events in your area.
I was fortunate to travel around the country with my family when I was younger. Now I am bound to my children. I can no longer hop in the car and take off because my kids need and deserve consistency. They need me to be present too. That’s what being a good parent is about! Traveling can be expensive and is tough with two kids. Travel time is limited for my family of three, but I’m satisfied with the travel we do for now. A few years ago we went with my parents to Myrtle Beach and stayed there for a couple months. We go to Minneapolis a few times a year, and Duluth is not far away! In town, we have visited the wildlife park, bounce house, play area at the mall, and local parks. Many of the parks around here are full of beauty! My kids really enjoy getting out of the house!
Travel Advice for Moms: Appreciate the sites in your area. We went to our local state park and enjoyed the time a lot. History in the making!
Lack of money is a sacrifice I have made since having children. I now have to budget money in order for us to survive on a weekly basis. I don’t get to shop for what I want all the time, but we survive. We work with the money we have! A number of my friends and I switch clothes once in a while. I also watch what I am spending on a daily basis, including my coffee intake! Going to local coffee shops makes me happy, and I enjoy when the kids come with. I get necessities for my kids right when I get paid. Money is tight, but we get by every month! My kids seem to think I have money to buy them anything they want. I guess that happens in a number of families, no matter how much money they have.
Money Advice for Moms: Budget and know your limits! A little bit of money can go a long way. Look for items on sale and products you can afford.
Despite the sacrifices I make on a daily basis for my children, I would not trade them for the world! I have evolved as a person and now consider myself beneficial to society. Whether you have children or not, we all seem to sacrifice something in order to be rewarded.