It’s been a long time since I’ve written a post on parenting with chronic illness. I think it’s because I don’t even know where to begin. Balancing a chronic illness and the needs of your body with the needs of your children is a really tricky thing. I thought that as my kids grew older that this would get easier, but it hasn’t. My kids are now 6 and 9 and though they are much more independent then they used to be, they also keep be busier. Because they are both in school I have to deal with homework, forms to fill out, student council, after school clubs, after school sports, volunteering in the classroom etc. etc. etc. So how do I do it? How do I manage their activities when I’m not feeling good?
I don’t know.
That’s the best answer I have. The next best answer is Dr. Pepper. So pretty much I’m useless on the parenting advice front. However, there are some important lessons I’ve learned along the way.
My children are not going to be permanently scarred because of my illness.
I worried about this one for a long time, and looking back I feel a little bit silly about that. My mother is a Type 1 insulin dependent diabetic. I grew up where insulin, needles, and crazy blood sugar levels were just a part of daily life, and it didn’t scar me at all. Yes, I could come home and find my mom had low blood sugar levels and I would need to make sure she got some sugar in her, but it wasn’t a big deal to me because it was just life. In the long run it taught me that my mom is an amazing women who has overcome incredible odds to live a wonderful life. So why would my kids be any different? Yes, I can’t meet their every whim and yes they do miss out on things because I don’t have enough energy, but they have a mom who loves and cares for them.
2. Illness teaches compassion
On occasions, my children have seen my suffering. I think it has taught them to look outside themselves and think about the people around them. My six year old has a teacher that has had reoccurring kidney stones. He has been concerned about her and her health because he’s seen me with my kidney stones and knows how horrible it is. He’s generally a fairly clueless kid, but when it comes to other people’s health he pays attention and is sensitive to the situation. I don’t think that sensitivity is something that came naturally to him, I think he learned it through seeing some of my struggles.
3. There are other ways to show my kids love besides taking them places
I do feel guilt that I can’t take my kids to as many events as I would like. Sometimes I skip showing up at the school party, and sometimes we have a weekend where we don’t go anywhere. If we do go somewhere that involves a lot of walking I sometimes have to take a rest, which can take away some of their fun. However, at the end of the day are my kids going to remember that they went to the zoo on March 23rd, 2016 or are they going to remember that their mom loves them? I think that they’ll remember how much I love them. Even if we can’t always go out and do something exciting, I can spend time with them at home. I spend a lot of time helping my son read, I play board games with both kids, we do crafts, I can lay in the hammock while they play in the backyard, or we can watch TV together. There are a million ways to show love that don’t involve using all my energy. Additionally, when I do throw caution to the wind to do something for my kids (like I am this weekend with my son’s birthday party) they will know that they are a priority in my life.
Modern parenting has turned into a competition in proving the how awesome of a pinterest parent we are. The reality of it is that even if I wasn’t sick I would still be a terrible pinterest parent because I just suck at that stuff. That suckiness has nothing to do with my illness, and honestly it doesn’t have that much to do with whether or not I’m a good parent. At the end of the day my kids know that I love them and that I want to spend my time with them, healthy or not.