We See You, Dad!
By: Stacie Manna
The father’s role in a PANDAS Family is one that can make him feel alone and invisible, some days more than others. This Father’s Day, I am here to remind you, dads, how important you are. We see you, feel you, and have not forgotten about you.
PANDAS is a family illness that rips through your home like a bat out of hell. Parents watch their child (sometimes children) suffer immense pain and anguish without notice. It is not uncommon for this disease healing course to be driven by mothers because of the strong maternal instinct carried for their child. This maternal instinct can often leave father’s feeling defeated, at minimum, because they don’t see and feel what the mother sees, especially during the initial onset. Although “normal” is almost non-existent in a PANDAS home, these feelings of defeat are normal and more common than you may believe.
As a mother of two PANDAS children, I am here today to tell you something, dads. We see you. You are never forgotten about. Most days in the PANDAS home are brutally painful. As mothers, we often don’t have the emotional or mental capacity to take time to tell you this. But we see you. We see your hardworking sacrifices, the heartache on your face and the brokenness within your heart. We know you show it differently than we do, most times, and some days you just don’t have the words or the strength to share your feelings with us. And what you need to know is that it’s okay to feel that way. It is okay to feel the way you do because we feel it too.
But in the midst of the emotional turmoil, remember that it is also okay to feel hopeful for the future.
Dads, the PANDAS world is moving forward. The research is there, the medical community is becoming more accepting over time, and we are hopeful for the future. This Father’s Day I want you to know that it is okay to be hopeful for your future, too. No matter what stage your child is at today, you have permission to take a breath, look ahead and accept where you are. The work is being done day in and day out to create a better future for your family. You may not see this work every day to know it is happening, but I promise you that it is. We are not giving up. In fact, we are dedicated to picking up the pace one doctor, donor, child and family at a time.
This Father’s Day is for you. Embrace the days ahead and remember you are important, noticed and loved. The emotions you feel are justified, but you are never invisible to us. Along with you, we dream of our family beating this illness and living as a whole once again, stronger than ever. Remember we recognize how hard it is not to be able to save your child from this disease and what that must feel like as a father.
Most of all, remember to remain hopeful, trusting the path we are headed on and stay by our side. PANDAS is destructive but it cannot destroy you, Dad. You are loved.