We have a son in college and a daughter in middle school. Both of our kids are amazing. I thank God every day for keeping them safe and healthy. I know that there is only so much I can do in the short time I have with them before they go off on their own, only so much advice I can attempt to give.
My life as a parent is challenging living with the illnesses I have. The best I am able to do is to share my experience living with depression and ADD and try not to feel guilty for the disabilities I have with my pain (both physical and mental).
Guilt is like stress – it’s a killer. I have a lot of it when it comes to being a parent.
B.F. (Before FMS), I was a serious work-a-holic. I worked 14 sometimes 16 hour days, 7 days a week. I would literally roll out of bed and start working, drive to the office and work until late at night and drive home, check my email again and then just barely make it in the bed… sleep a few hours and do it all over again. I did this until my body broke. I went from crazy, insane drive myself to exhaustion on a daily basis to never being able to recover again because I was broken. Years later to be diagnosed with Fibromyalgia.
My children have… suffered is a strong word, but they have had to adapt to me being unavailable due to my work and then unavailable due to my pain. When I say there is guilt there, that’s an understatement. There are a lot of times when I feel like a failure simply because I can’t drive. Those people who complain about “taxi’ing” their children around have no idea what I’d do to provide that service. I see that time as a good opportunity to have 1:1 time with the kids, my husband has learned a lot in the times he has driven the kids around.
It takes a lot to work full-time and manage this crazy illness. I know a lot of people do it, this definitely helps me to have hope. But, I’m telling you – by the time Wednesday rolls around I’m starting to get very tired. Thursday? Counting the hours and on Friday! Just forget it! By late morning I can barely hang on. The week-ends are about trying to relax and not over-do it so I can start all over on Monday.
How does this work with parenting?
It’s definitely about teamwork. Although sometimes I get very jealous. My husband does it all… he cooks for the family, he transports, he does the shopping, he is the “go to” guy in the house. I know I shouldn’t be jealous, but I want to be that person… I want to be the “go to” gal. The problem is, I’m in no condition to do what he does. I’m unreliable. I’m inconsistent. At the end of the day, literally, my husband really IS the guy. If it wasn’t for him this family wouldn’t function.
Reconciling these emotions that I have is tough. How can I be upset when everyone is being taken care of? I should not be complaining, I should be happy. It’s a blessing. At the root of all this, I want to contribute. Practically and emotionally. Not being physically or mentally able to do this kills me. I feel guilty that I am not able to do more, that I didn’t make the choice to do more when I was working all those hours. Like I said… guilt is a killer. I can’t let it win.
I know, in my heart, that my children love me. I know that my working provides for the family. I know that I can’t do it all or, a lot of the times, even more than what I do. It’s up to me to accept who I am today and constantly strive to be a better and good person. I know God has a defined plan for all of us. All of this, I know. But still, I struggle with the constant roller coaster of feeling okay, feeling great, feeling okay, feeling like shit, feeling okay, feeling great! That roller coaster creates a lot of frustrating emotions and wreaks havoc on any kind of planning in my life. This makes it tough to be an active participant in the family, hell it makes it tough to be an active participant in LIFE.
The pain, mental and physical, is not a small issue in parenting. I can’t expect my kids to know what I’m going through and how it affects my behaviour and communication. It’s not their responsibility to figure it out, they have their own lives to lead. It’s up to me to do a better job of communicating and work on patience and mastering mindfulness thoughts.
Don’t let the pain win, right? Mindful meditation, prayer, yoga… all these things are helping me make it through. We have all had and will continue to have challenges that we face, it’s all in how we face them to get to the other side.
As always, I’d love to hear your comments. Thanks for stopping by!
Stay super cool!
- Parenting With Chronic Pain (webmd.com)
- When You Can’t Change Your Circumstances, Change Yourself (Psychology Today)
- The Loneliness of Pain (Psychology Today)