K is thirteen. I’m not sure how that happened, but she is. She’s typical of girls that age – a bundle of awkwardness trying to find who she is and where she belongs. She’s a good kid, never in trouble at home or school. She’s had to grow up quite fast and knows more about my mental health and its causes than I would like, but she’s got her feet on the ground even when her head is in the clouds.
It’s easy, as a single parent and as a single parent with a mental illness, to wonder what the impact of all this is on her. But she copes remarkably well. She’s doing well at school and has support from me and from Young Carers, she has a close group of friends.
She’s also very good company – when I can drag her away from her gadgets and tech – and we have the same slightly warped sense of humour. She’s a master of sarcasm, beating me to the one liner more times than I can count.
I am immensely proud of her – she is wonderfully tolerant of others, ignoring everything apart from who they are as a person. That, she says, is the only thing that matters. And she’s right.
I took K down this afternoon to see my psych, not for an appointment as such but so they could touch base. It’s important for me that K knows my team, and of course they have safeguarding duties too. Despite not having seen my psych since the summer, K went straight up to give her a big hug – K is much more tactile than I am. I look for the things I am not good at in K, to make sure I’m proactively teaching her a different way rather than passively passing on what I do. So it was lovely to see her level of eye contact, her openness, and to hear her talking confidently to someone who doesn’t have a clearly defined role – she’s not a friend, a teacher, family – and who she doesn’t see all that often.
Walking home, I gave myself a mental pat on the back. I’ve broken the cycle. When it comes to parenting, I’m doing ok