Dad’s Coat | True Family Teamwork

Do you happen to have a busy household with adult children still living at home with you? Perhaps you have grandchildren living with you as well? I do, and I find myself wondering at times how we manage to make it work. To give you an idea of what my household looks like in regard to the number and diversity of the occupants, imagine that you have a birds eye view of my house as if you were a bird flying over it. You can be any bird you like. As you fly over my house, with the weight of the world below you, your birds eye view would reveal that there are four different people from three different generations living under one roof. And the three adult persons all work doing very different jobs. One person is a project manager, one person is a singer, and one person is a writer. The adorable wee little one that actually runs the house, truth be know, has a job too. She’s busy being a two year old. What you can’t see from your birds eye view is that we have two other adult children who are grown and living on their own far from our nest. Therefore, we have a half full nest. I think that what makes our half full nest work is that we have infinite unconditional love for one another and another ingredient. It’s called true family teamwork. Last weekend, I happened to catch a glimpse of our teamwork in action, and it revolved around, and as my kids call him, Dad’s coat.

Bill had been outside working on the house. The work he is doing is A monumental TASK To say the least.

He’s completely overhauling the outside of the house, a house that had been neglected by the previous owners. After years of being exposed to humid and wet weather, the old, cedar plank siding with its random splits across each plank and warped edges that curl up, and that have become home to some small lizards, is being removed and replaced single handedly by Bill with new siding meant to withstand Florida’s humid subtropical climate. The windows are also coming out, one by one, and are being replaced with impact resistant windows. Soon we will have a house that will be more energy efficient, and it will be protected from most of Mother Nature’s unpredictable forces. At this time in our lives together, I can’t claim fame to any of the tremendous amount of work being done on the house due to a bad back and another issue that has come up recently.

I feel awful that I can’t help like I used to. Of course, there are things that I can do like hand him tools, help with clean up and other various tasks, but I can’t help with the heavy lifting. Luckily, with Kim still living at home, he has help! Even though we have our challenges as a family, we sure know how to work together. When Bill needs help with lifting or with other tasks that I can’t do, Kim steps in and helps. In the meantime, I watch our granddaughter. At other times, we simply offer one another help.

That is what happened a few days ago when I noticed something special.

It was a gloomy and dark day. Puffy rain clouds loomed overhead. Despite the weather, Bill worked outside. He was busy measuring, cutting and nailing on the new siding. At one point, I was outside with him for a little bit. I helped him as much as I could, and then I got really cold because it had started to rain. My fingers and my toes started to feel numb from the cold, damp soil, and I had become chilled from the wet rainfall. Bill said, “Go inside. It’s too cold.” I told him that he needed to go inside too. He replied with, “No. I’ll be okay. I’ll come in in in a little bit. Go inside Stace.” I decided to go ahead and head back inside the house but with hesitation because I knew he was cold as well and was getting wet. When I got inside, Kim approached me and asked, “Does Dad have his coat on?” I said, “I think so.” I hadn’t actually paid much attention to what he was wearing because when I had initially gone outside it wasn’t raining. I told her that if she went to the patio outback she would be able to see him and would be able to see if he had on his coat or not. Somehow, we both got distracted and continued on about our business. I made a fresh pot of coffee, and Kim tended to her little one.

Not long after, I decided to go back outside and check on Bill. I hadn’t been outside for more than a few minutes when I saw Kim walk up to us with a busy toddler Running along beside her.

She had Bill’s coat in her hand. She reached out to give it to him and said, “Dad, you need to put your coat on. It’s too cold out here. You’re getting wet. You’re going to get sick.” He said he was fine, but he took it from her and put it on. As he put it on, he turned away from us and started to once again work on applying the siding as he had been before Kim gave him his coat. There he was: my man; wet from the rainfall, the kids dad, and the grandkids grandpa working outside on a rainy day trying to fix a house in need of repair and trying to provide a comfortable and safe shelter for his family. And he had his coat on, and he was protected as much as possible from the rain. True family teamwork was alive and well that day. And somehow, I caught a glimpse of it in action. If you were a bird flying over your house, what positive action would you see?

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When We Think We’ve Reached the End of the Story

Reaching the end of the story quote

 

You Are Not Alone

I imagine that you are reading this blog because you, just like me, have an adult child who lives with mental illness or maybe it appears to you that your adult child may be living with an undiagnosed mental illness. Perhaps you are a relative or a friend who knows someone who has an adult child who lives with mental illness. Maybe you are a professional. Regardless of who you are, I’m glad you are here. To parents of adult children who happen to live with mental illness, you are not alone.

To those walking a similar walk to mine, I can empathize with you.

I am so sorry for any challenges you have faced past and/or present. I know what it is like. If you are not familiar with my story, I encourage you to read the “Welcome” page on Stacy’s Flutterings. You will see that I can empathize with you. I have been there, and I am there now.

How do I know that we walk a similar walk?

The proof is in the numbers. If we just look at how many people are affected by bipolar disorder globally, the numbers are staggering. The World Health Organization notes that about 60 million people worldwide are affected by bipolar affective disorder (World Health Organization [WHO], 2015). Can you imagine the number of people affected by mental illness if we add in all of the other mental illnesses? It is eye opening, isn’t it? And each one of these millions of individuals, living with bipolar disorder, has a parent. I am not saying that the parent is involved in their lives or anything about parenting other than the fact that each person has a parent, biological or not and absent or not. Therefore, parents too are affected.

If we are not alone then why does it feel as if we are?

Over the years, as we have coped with the illness of our loved one, we have felt very alone, and to some degree we are. Of course, no one can live our lives and therefore experience what we experience. In all honesty, there have been times, throughout the years, that I wish others could experience what we experience just so that they can empathize with us, not sympathize, but truly empathize. This is not reality though. The closet we can come to garnering true empathy is to share our story with others living a similar story and to those willing to listen. And this is precisely what I am doing. However, it is not just empathy that I seek (so that we can erase the stigma, prevent suicide and make positive changes to our mental health care system), but I do not want other parents, walking a similar walk, to feel any more alone than I did. If you are one of those parents, when times get tough, and you are feeling isolated, remember that you are not alone. Join me as I continue to share more about our experience. I have so much good news to share with you. When we think we’ve reached the end of the story, it really has only just begun…


This blog post contains an excerpt from Simply 1 Mom’s Thoughts About Coping When an Adult Child Lives With Mental Illness.

References

King, S. A. (2015). Simply 1 Mom’s Thoughts About Coping When an Adult Child Lives With Mental Illness.

World Health Organization. (2015). Mental disorders [Fact Sheet]. Retrieved from http://www.who.int/mediacentre/factsheets/fs396/en/

Where’s the village? Parenting Beyond the High School Years When Mental Illness Plays a Role

I’ve heard over the years, from family and friends, the African proverb that it takes a village to raise a child. I don’t know about you, but I tend to agree. After all, we don’t parent in a vacuum. By the time a child is grown, many people have come and gone from a child’s life. The interesting thing is that once a child is grown, it seems that the village disappears. In America, when a child turns 18 years old, we consider the child to be an adult. With adulthood comes independence; no longer is the same level of parental support and help needed or so the story goes. However, what if the child, now an adult, lives with the continuation of or the recent onset of mental illness? Now what? Where’s the village? Parenting, beyond the high school years, especially when mental illness plays a role, can be challenging. It can seem even more challenging if it looks like the village has left.

Who do parents turn to for information if their child, now grown, lives with mental illness?

We know that children aren’t born with a manual that describes how to raise them. We simply do the best we can with what we have. During our child’s younger years we have doctors, teachers, family and others to reach out to. However, once our child reaches the adulthood milestone, it seems that, as parents, we have nowhere to turn because our child is an “adult.” As an adult they are responsible for making their own decisions, and they legally have the right to do so. What can seem like murky territory can become even murkier.

Despite how murky parenting may seem right now, I have good news!

The village is still here. It just looks a little different. How do I know? In addition to being a wife, I’m a mother as well of three adult children. Two of our children are grown and live on their own. Our middle child, who still lives at home with us currently, happens to live with bipolar disorder. I’ve been where you are at. And I’m there now. I  know what it’s like to raise children, and I can empathize with parents who have an adult child who lives with mental illness.

Where can you go for information?

If you would like more information about how you can support your adult child who lives with mental illness, I have a few ideas to get you started. First, I can’t express enough how much personal therapy has helped me. If you are a parent of an adult child who lives with mental illness, I encourage you to give it a try. At the very least, you may learn coping mechanisms that you can add to your parenting toolbox, and you may learn about local resources that may be of help to you and your child. If you find that you are searching for a therapist, you can try using the American Association for Marriage and Family Therapy (AAMFT) Therapist Locator. If you live outside of the United States, you could try reaching out to your primary care provider for a referral. Second, the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) provides helpful articles such as the ones noted below:

These are just a few of the articles NAMI offers that I highly encourage you to check out. And this is just the tip of the iceberg regarding information. I’ll be sharing more information and resources as I blog, and you can always go to the Mental Health Resources tab on Stacy’s Flutterings for additional resources.

Even though it may seem that the village vanishes when our children grow older, especially if we happen to have a child or children who live with mental illness, there are people and organizations ready to help. We just need to know where to look.


This blog post contains an excerpt from Simply 1 Mom’s Thoughts About Coping When an Adult Child Lives With Mental Illness.

References

King, S. A. (2015). Simply 1 Mom’s Thoughts About Coping When an Adult Child Lives With Mental Illness.

Growing Happily Beyond Our Expectations

I imagine that you, just like me, have dreams, goals and aspirations. However, while striving to fulfill your dream(s), did you ever think that you just might achieve it and actually exceed it? Here at Stacy’s Flutterings, we are doing just that and growing happily beyond our expectations. And I have great news to share with you. In addition to writing my next book, and blogging here on Stacy’s Flutterings, I’m now a contributor over at Lose the Cape, an online magazine for busy modern moms! This is such an important accomplishment for me, and I hope you’ll join me in celebrating this good news.

How joining the Lose the Cape team as a contributor surpasses my expectations.

Years ago, actually the year 2011 to be exact, I started this blog. It all started when I was talking with fellow volunteer Pat at the Extreme Makeover: Home Edition build in Ottawa, Kansas. We had been talking about mental illness which was the theme of that particular build and episode. During our conversation, I had shared with her our family’s story and how bipolar disorder and suicide had become center stage in our lives by then. As we conversed, she shared with me that she thought I should start a blog. Honestly, I hadn’t heard much about blogging up until that moment. My curiosity was peaked though, and I asked her for more details. Once the build was over, and Bill and I headed home, my blogging days began. I did my research, discovered WordPress, built Stacy’s Flutterings blog, and started blogging about how mental illness had impacted my family’s life. In addition to being therapeutic for me as a mom, the blog provided me with the means to reach out to other parents going through a similar experience and a way to advocate for the eradication of stigma. However, it’s now become so much more. It’s become a landing pad for half empty nesters who happen to have an older child, who lives with mental illness, still living at home. Here at Stacy’s Flutterings, parents can find inspiration, credible resources and hope. As you can see, Stacy’s Flutterings has wonderfully exceeded my expectations.

Why being a contributor for Lose the Cape is important to me.

I’m so thankful to Alexa Bigwarfe for bringing me on board as a contributor. This is an important accomplishment for me as a writer but even more so as a mom. She’s given me a voice as a mom of a half empty nest, a nest where mental illness is a part of my story. This is such an important milestone to me because this normalizes me as a mom. It makes me human thus my daughter is human. And you know what? That means that all moms who happen to have a half empty nest, with mental illness as part of the fluff, are normal and human too. We have so far to go in regard to erasing the stigma, but we are making strides, and this is one example! I truly have grown Stacy’s Flutterings happily above the expectations I had for the blog in 2011. I’m thankful for the continued support from my readers here at Stacy’s Flutterings, and I do hope you’ll come visit me on Lose the Cape as well! Until next time…

Growing stronger…