Behind this Bipolar Mum is two awesome fathers

Today Australians are celebrating Father’s Day.  Dads across the country are being woken up by tiny hands thrusting a plate of eggs and bacon under their nose.  And millions of men are re-stocking their drawers with new socks and underwear.

I have two reasons to celebrate Father’s Day: my husband (a Dad to our three munchkins) and my Dad.  Both are shining examples of everything that fathers ought to be:  patient, loving, caring, encouraging and Godly role-models to their children.

Growing up, our family of four kids never doubted our father’s love.  As a pastor, he worked from his home office – so he was there to make our school lunches, drive us to school and hear about our day when we returned.  I remember lots of walks up to the local shops together in my teenage years – with him offering his fatherly wisdom.

It wasn’t until I was older – and my best friend’s parents divorced, that I realised how blessed I was.  That not everyone had a Dad like mine – who actually wanted to spend time with his kids.

Now days, as an adult, lots of people tell me that my dad and I are similar in many ways:  we both love homemade pizza, have a flair for writing, enjoy speaking in public, and have a tendency to stretch the truth ever-so-slightly to make a better story.  I’m also told that I’m most like his side of the family in looks.

There’s something else that I inherited from Dad’s side of the family: a genetic predisposition for mental illness.  While it skipped Dad, I discovered at the age of 18 that I had more than his family’s olive skin.  Its never occurred to me to blame Dad or his family for this… or to curse my genes… it’s just the way I was created.

As a parent myself now, it does sometimes worry me that I might pass this legacy of mental illness onto my own children.  It’s the reason why I’m the ambassador of a mental health research project. I’d love to see Bipolar Disorder and other mental illnesses “cured” by the time my kids become teenagers.   But if it’s not (and with my oldest heading towards nine years old, the countdown is truly on) – it will be ok.

When I recently asked my psychiatrist what would happen if one of my children inherited Bipolar Disorder, she told me that they would be lucky.  Not lucky to have Bipolar (I wouldn’t wish that on anyone) but lucky to have a mother who had lived with the illness – and was able to show them that it’s possible to still live life in all its fullness.

Mariska xx

Do you have a father or father-figure who has meant a lot to you?  Would love to hear about how they have influenced you and your life.

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