The love begins the moment we know we are pregnant – or perhaps even before that, as we dream about the child we might someday have. Then, with each passing day with our child- from the womb, to birth, and as the child grows -our love grows, and the commitment strengthens.
Parental vows may be unspoken, but they are as strong as steel. We witness such vows all the time at weddings, but we parents silently take the same vow from the moment we know we are parents:
I, Mom/Dad, take you, son/daughter, to have and to hold from this day forward, for better, for worse, for richer, for poorer, in sickness and in health, to love and to cherish, till death us do part.
All parents – indeed, all spouses too – know that hopes and dreams must alter as pieces of reality sets in. Our child may be a different sex than we had envisioned; he/she may be born with a birth defect; he/she may want to be a scientist when we had always hoped for a musician in the family. Reality may test our vows, but love is powerful enough to help us ride the waves – and when love seems harder to access, vows take us the rest of the way.
When Mental Illness Tests the Family
When illness enters the family picture, vows are more seriously tested. When that illness is a mental illness, the test is even more difficult.