Let me tell you about Holly and Jack. They are normal kids – hyperactive, cheeky and constantly on the go. Holly is five and is always wanting to know more, she can usually be found creating pictures at her pink desk and lately has got a thing for tidying up. Jack is a three year old whirlwind, having found his voice a little later than his sister he now never stops chatting, as well as running, jumping and regularly returning to mummy with a new bruise. Both children are happy, healthy and looked after.
But behind closed doors life isn’t always normal. Often they wake and are left to entertain themselves for an hour or so on a morning; their questions of ‘play with me mummy’ are regular answered with a ‘no’ and occasionally they spend an hour or two in an afternoon in their bedrooms with unhealthy snacks and their iPads. Why? Because their mummy has a chronic illness.
Life as a child who has a parent with a lifelong illness isn’t always normal. They can sometimes come second to the illness’s needs, they learn to be more independent at a young age and grow to understand that when mummy is tired she can’t colour or bake or jump. Which is often. But they also grow to be more understanding, compassionate and sensitive to the needs of others.
But every now and again these children need a break too. They need to visit a world where they can explore at their will without being held back by anothers’ illness. Where they can meet new friends, play till their hearts’ content, discover new interests and fall into bed after their bedtime their tummies and minds full from a day spent carefree and uninhibited.
I have a wish that my children will grow up with a life full of exploration, adventure and freedom. despite my illness Because chronic illness doesn’t just affect those who have it, it affects everyone. And everyone needs a break from time to time.