Chronic conditions and chronic pain add an extra challenge to every task, relationship, and aspect of life, and parenting is no exception.
I’ve always been “sick.” Since infancy, I spent much of my time at doctors’ offices and hospitals, drawing blood, doing tests, imaging, taking shots, and trying new medications. But my symptoms persisted. In the past decade alone, I saw all possible medical specialists.
At 37 years old, I started to deteriorate, and the doctors told me it would get even worse. I do not look sick, and my condition was always a medical mystery. Until I was finally diagnosed with degenerative and incurable conditions. I struggled to accept my fate and spiraled into depression, anxiety, and suicidal thoughts.
My life was anything but easy. I did everyday tasks with great difficulties. I would wake up one day with my right leg paralyzed; it could not move at all, and was not asleep. I had acute kidney failure seemingly out of the blue. I had so many emergency visits and life-threatening situations, and I thought I would die every time.
Still, I kept on fighting for myself and my family. I don’t believe I would still be here without their support.
When my older daughter was little, she said, “Mama is rusty,” when I could not move. I’m truly blessed that my family understands. They know my limits and never judge or ask me to do something they know I can’t do. On my part, I stretch myself to exceed their expectations, which they very much appreciate.
I took a different approach three years ago. Instead of taking thirty different pills a day, I stopped all medications, started to watch what I ate, and changed my mindset.
In just a few months, I started to notice improvements, both physically and mentally. I’m not cured of my conditions yet, but I believe I’m on my way. I have less pain and fewer doctor and hospital visits now. I have more energy, and I’m able to do things I thought were impossible.
Parenting with chronic conditions and chronic pain is difficult. I want to be there for my family every step of the way. I learned to accept that it’s ok if I can’t do it all. I wanted to be the cookie-baking, ever-energetic mom, but that hasn’t always been an option. And they are ok with that too. I learned to open up and share exactly how I feel so they know what I’m going through instead of keeping it to myself.
I taught my kids from a very young age to be independent as much as possible and never judge a book by its cover. I taught them to do their best, not what others expect. They are growing up to be compassionate, forgiving, dependable, and hard-working.
It is easier now, and I can do many things I couldn’t do before, even if it means resting the next day. They know that too and appreciate it and even tell me, “Mom, you should rest,” or my husband says, “Just sit down and do absolutely nothing today.”
I learned to celebrate my victories when I clean the house, organize or cook a delicious meal, bake a yummy cake, throw a birthday party, take my kids out, or play a game of tennis with my husband.
I celebrate all these victories and more. It is a significant accomplishment for someone who couldn’t do them before or did them with great difficulties.