Parenting through chronic illness- what does is mean to be a mother?

I first became sick when my son was an infant and my daughter was three. I was starting to recover from a horrible pregnancy that almost killed me. I was excited about being a real parent to my daughter again and being a new mom to a baby boy.

The first thing I felt when I got sick was guilt. Oh the ever present guilt! My poor kids were going to go through life without a functioning mother, they were being robbed of their childhood! (Yes, I am a drama queen sometimes). I was ashamed to be such a “bad” mother. Thank goodness for a wonderful women in my life who was the mother of four and who had battled cancer. At the time she was in remission, but because of the chemo side effects she was still had physical limitations. She was the angel who showed me that motherhood does not have to be about going to every single soccer game, every school party, creating the perfect pinterest birthday party, or making fabulous homemade Halloween costumes. Those are all good things for moms to do, but they do not encompass motherhood. Motherhood is more than being the perfect PTA mom, it is more than being a provider, it is more than being able to buy things, and it is more than having a perfectly decorated house. You can be an amazing mother without being able to do all those things. She was an example to me of how one can be a mother and how kids aren’t going suffer, even if their mom isn’t healthy.

Do I worry about the effect my health problems have on my kids? Yes I do. It does bother me that I have to tell my daughter I can’t come to every party at school and I can’t escort her on a field trip to the zoo. I do feel bad that I don’t play as much with my son as I did with my daughter. I was really awesome at coming up with creative activities to keep my daughter entertained when she was little. I don’t really have the extra energy for things like that anymore, but I am always able to be there for my son. He can always run to me when he’s hurt or he’s sad. We can spend an afternoon reading book after book together. We can make a batch of cookies together and we can talk about the things he’s interested in.
Motherhood to me is:

unconditional love
joy
contentment
safety
togetherness
being a shoulder to cry on
believing in your child no matter what
humility
selflessness

I am a believer that you don’t have to give birth to a child (or adopt one) to encompass the traits of motherhood. I know women who do not have children, and yet they still all these things. My children have women in their lives who mother them. Their aunts, some of which do not have kids of their own, are mothers to them. These are incredible women whose influence in my children’s lives can not be understated. Knowing these things gives me strength. I am a mother, whether I am healthy or not. I am a mother because I love my children, and I would do anything for them.

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