One Mom’s Story: Grandparent Depression and Its Impact on the Family

grandmother and daughter with son
Image via Mindi Stavish

It has sadly been almost three years since I've last heard from my mom, who suffers from bipolar depression. This silent disease affects me and the rest of my family. Her decision to shut us out of her life “so we won’t have to see her like this” is heart breaking. Does she not see that her actions still affect our family this way?

Since my mom’s phone has long been shut off, I have no way of even attempting to contact her, and she never returns my letters. I frequently think of her and wonder how she is and what she fills her time with these days. A lot has happened in my life since we last spoke. This past summer, when I gave birth to my third child, I couldn't help but feel a bit sad. I wanted to see the look on her face when she held her brand new, squishy grandson the first time. That didn't happen though, and she will never have that time back.  

She now has not one, but two grandchildren whom she has never met. Her oldest grandchild was just a year and a half the last time she came to visit. She continues to miss milestone after milestone, and this breaks my heart into a million pieces. These three sweet boys fill me with so much joy. I love cheering them on as they develop into kids and can't imagine missing any their milestones.  

As a mother, I can't imagine not being part of my child's life, no matter what the circumstance may be.  

As the holiday season falls upon us, I wish I could share the excitement of the holiday cheer and baby's first Christmas with her. I also would love to share everyday motherhood moments with her: cold days snuggled up next to a napping baby, belly giggles, and toothless grins. I wish I could pick up the phone and tell her about how Ryker woke up at least four times last night, hungry and needing to be fed. I wish she could take him in her arms and feel his soft skin and breath against her neck. His smile is contagious; I just know it would brighten her day. Yet time marches on, and she continues to miss more and more—more Thanksgivings, more Christmases, and more holidays.  

Mental illness is a relationship destroyer. No matter how badly I want my mom to see what she is missing, she may be too far into the darkness to find her way back. That is the hardest reality to face. As I continue to struggle with my mom’s mental illness, I am trying to learn more about it. In case you or someone you know struggles with it, here are some helpful articles:

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Signs, Symptoms and Treatment of Bipolar Depression

Depression and Bipolar Support Alliance: A wonderful resource about finding local support systems, wellness options, and education on bipolar and depression.

Is there anyone in your life who continues to miss each and every milestone of your baby's first year?  How do you cope with this disappointment?   

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One Mom’s Story: Grandparent Depression and Its Impact on the Family

Mindi is a working mom with three boys ages 4, 2, and an infant (born June 2013). She spent her first 8 years of her career in Speech-Language Pathology at a Children's Hospital. She currently works with adults and children in home health. The real fun for her happens when she is at home with her boys, chasing them around and pretending to be a super hero. She blogs about life as a working mom at Simply Stavish. Her weekly feature, Words in the Sand, teaches parents how to grow their child's s ... More

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1 comment

  1. gfeld says:

    It is sad. It is such a wonderful moment watching my mom and grandparents faces light up with each additional grandchild. The joy and pride with each kids milestones is delightful to behold. To miss out on that is definitely sad.

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