Anyone who’s a parent knows it’s not easy. Even under the best of circumstances, parenting is a challenge. It’s a wonderful challenge, but it is a challenge. You may think you’re prepared for anything – until life decides to throw something at you that you could never have predicted.
Right after I was diagnosed, a fellow patient told me, “If you were thinking about getting pregnant, don’t let MS stop you! You’ll feel better while you’re pregnant.” She was right. I think I had two of the easiest pregnancies on record, even though I was of advanced maternal age (the not-quite-so tactful way of pointing out I was over 35).
But any parent can tell you the challenges of day-to-day parenting. Parents never have enough energy, time, or money to do everything they’d like to do for their kids. When my boys hurt, I hurt. I still remember the first time my older son got a shot. I thought, no big deal, I have self-injected MS medicines, so it’ll be a breeze. I was wrong. When the doctor pulled out the needle, I was in tears. I wanted to yell Gimme the shot instead! but I knew it would be futile. All I could do was cuddle him once the shot was over and hope he wouldn’t hate me forever for letting that mean old doctor stick a needle in his leg.
When mom has a chronic illness, situations are magnified. And how do you expect a young child to understand why mommy can’t do what other mommies do? How much information is too much? Am I not telling them enough? Are the other kids giving them a hard time because their mommy is not like the other mommies?
You know what’s worse than parenting with a chronic condition? Having a child has a chronic condition. My younger son has a tic disorder and ADHD, so he sometimes tunes out and flaps. My heart aches for him. Would the other kids make fun of him? How would his condition affect his school performance? He has issues with transitions, so I’m worried about how he will adjust after finishing elementary school and getting used to his new 6th-grade world.
And even if you and your children are blessed to be illness-free, odds are that you know someone whose situation isn’t so fortunate. It’s a safe bet that during your regular day-to-day life, you’re encountering people dealing with chronic conditions whether you know it or not, so it may help for you to understand how the world looks from our side of the fence.
So whether you’re dealing with health challenges or just trying to navigate, remember that you can’t predict everything the world will throw at you.