I’m sitting outside my daughter’s dance class waiting for class to be over. I try not to shift too many times in the hard plastic chair, but my body is hurting. There’s chaos all around me as siblings run around parents who are busy making last minute plans for tomorrow’s recital. I watch the chaos and can only focus on getting home and sitting in a comfortable chair.
There’s an irony in trying to write an article about parenting with Fibromyalgia when your surrounded by “normal” parents who have no idea you’re not one of them. I feel like an actor on a stage, pretending like my biggest worry is what kind of makeup my daughter will wear at her recital. Not to diminish the struggles of normal parenthood (because it’s rough no matter what), but there is an extra layer of guilt that comes with an illness. I wonder if I’m good enough for my children. Would they have been better off if someone else was their mother? But then, who would have bullied my daughter’s school into testing her for GT? Who would tell my son that tears are okay and he doesn’t need to be afraid of his emotions? Who would teach my children how to handle it when bad things happen through no fault of their own? Who would show them that individual worth is not based on other’s opinions of them, but on who they are as a person?My children need me to teach them these things. They need me to show them what is right, beautiful, and good. Most of all they need me to love them, and I do.
Still, I find parenting with Fibromyalgia to be a struggle. I constantly wonder if I’m sacrificing myself too much or too little. Too much sacrifice and I risk making myself sicker for a longer period of time, and therefore unable to help my children. Too little sacrifice and my kids could be permanently scarred by their horrible childhood. My kids might think that I don’t love them, or maybe they’ll grow up to tell their therapist that their selfish mother never really took care of them. I’ve pictured numerous scenarios in my bad moments.
I wish I knew what point my parenting was good enough, or what point I’ve sacrificed enough. I’m now sitting in the school car line overheating because I don’t want to waste all my gas and I feel still feel like I’m not doing a good job. Even though here I am sacrificing my comfort and energy so I can get my daughter to dance class on time. I still think I’m failing because I want my kids to be protected from knowing that your body can fall apart even if you do all the right things, and they’re not. I don’t want them to know at their young ages that best laid plans can go wrong, but they do. In my saner moments I know that these are tremendous life skills that will help them become better more functional human beings, but I hate that they learned the lesson so early in life.
There are no easy answers to surviving parenting with chronic illness. I’ve typed out numerous posts trying to provide to answers, but I usually end up deleting them because they somehow seem insufficient. People ask me how I cope, and the truth is that I play it by ear and try not to screw up just like everybody else.