I was chatting with my son in the car this morning about the tragic case of Jacintha Saldanha, the nurse who apparently took her own life after receiving a hoax call from an Australian radio show at the King Edward VII hospital regarding the condition of the Duchess of Cambridge. In trying to explain to him how falling for a hoax like that could have been the final straw that tipped her over the edge, a sudden realisation came to me. Curiously, I realised that my ex husband had, in a roundabout kind of way, done me a favour. By being the man he is and, in my opinion, not capable of effectively parenting our children, he was in the end the reason why I could not take the step that Jacintha Saldanha did. If I were not here there was no one that could care for my children, most especially my youngest son who has complex needs due to his autism and challenging behaviour.
Don't get me wrong, my ex is not a bad man and he loves our children just as much as I do, I have no doubt of that whatsoever. However, loving children is not enough to meet their needs, no matter what the saccharin clichés say. To be a parent, particularly of a child with special needs, you have to do the unpopular things, the difficult things, the messy things and the uncomfortable things. Yes, of course, taking the children out for fabulous walks on the beach, taking them to see their doting and much-loved grandmother, letting them stay up late and generally having a great holiday with them is fantastic for them and has its place in their lives, but discipline and teaching them how to become responsible adults has to be in there too and unfortunately it is at those things that their father is not so strong.
In all the years we were together and the difficult years when I was raising them alone before I met my new partner, I had always resented my ex for leaving me to be the sole parent while he got to be the good guy and the fun guy. Now I can see that, frustrating as that was, and still is a lot of the time, it could be the single thing that saved my life. Had he been a fantastic parent as well as a loving father, and had I felt secure that our children would be well cared for and appropriately parented by him, I might not have had that last thread to keep me tied to life. I know I am far from a perfect mother and I'm sure there are many parents that would have been better for my children had circumstances been different, but for my children, of the two parents they have, I know they are better off with me.
Depression may rule my life a lot of the time but I try my best to ensure that my children are protected from the worst of it and, whilst I feel a failure a lot of the time, they are proof positive that I can do at least some things right enough of the time for them to be the wonderful people they are.