Remember before we had kids and we had it all figured out. We were going to be a certain kind of parent. We were never going to do the things we hated about childhood to our kids. We were never ever going to say some of the things our parents said to us. We had it all figured out. Then we brought home that little bundle of ….joy, and reality slapped us upside the head.
I also remember people told me that the first year was the hardest. I have news for them. THEY LIED. Sure the first year was hard. Sure I hated being patient while my daughter “explored ” her food. Sure going without sleep was hard. Its much harder to answer the million questions that occur to a two year old. Its much harder to keep up with the destruction of a three year old. Its harder to keep a four year old in clothes that fit. Each year it just gets a different kind of hard.
I think the biggest thing I have learned about parenting after getting sick is not to judge other parents. I may not agree with their choices. I don’t know the reasons behind their decisions and really its not my place to ask.It doesn’t mean you have to agree with their decision. As parents we beat ourselves up enough, we don’t need another parent adding to that.
There are things I swore I would never do and Chronic fatigue and Fibromyalgia say hahahahahaha nice try. I have found some things that I said I would not do but have done , have made my daughter stronger. Chronic pain has given me some blessings this way. Things that I thought would be good for my daughter I now see were just sheltering her and would eventually harm her. Well maybe not harm her but very much make her struggle. Its hard to look at chronic pain and struggle as a blessing. For me in alot of ways it has been.
I have found myself reflecting more about everything I do. Even more than someone with anxiety and OCD normally would. I have to decide what I can do and what I can’t do almost daily and reconcile that with what my brain wants to get done. Parenting comes first. The other day my daughter wanted me to walk to pick her up from school so she could skate back. When it came time to go. I was really reluctant to follow through. There are times that I have to disappoint her and this just wasn’t the time. Besides exersize is good for me. Yes we took forever coming home but really there was no rush. Because I am not working I have more time to do little things like this with her daily. I know when I was working there was no way I would have been able to do this. Not just physically but also time wise, I just didn’t have it.
I never thought I would get used to the slower life of staying home. Yeah, I didn’t even get that all typed out before I was laughing. The days sometimes do drag, but mostly they fly by still. I remember thinking previously how great stay at home mom’s have it All that time! All that sleep they must get. Remember that thing about reality? It slapped me another good one there. I thought staying home would give me more time to rest….so about that? What it has given me is more quality time with my family and really thats what matters.
I have also found that there is a desperate need for parents with chronic pain or illness or both to be able to talk with other parents about similar issues. I enjoy talking with other parents about parenting in general. What really leaves me satisfied sometimes though is knowing that there are others out there going through the same thing. Having simlar worries. Similar concerns. What we also sometimes forget is that our spouse or significant other has their own frustrations. Its not easy for them either.
Its hard to not let ourselves get pulled into the should have done’s. I should have gone outside with her. I should have taken her here. I should have had dinner ready. I should have gotten housework done. We spend so much time doing this. When we should be giving ourselves some credit for what we do accomplish.
On one of the support groups I am in, I started something called the daily to do list. Sometimes it was impossibly long and I just let my brain think we were going to get it all done. Sometimes the most I had accomplished was I got out of bed. After awhile it seemed like no one was really paying attention. I stopped. Then I found out how much it had helped others. Sometimes I wrote theses lists and never looked at them all day. Sometimes those lists were the only thing that kept me on track. For me it was a good reminder because I always had on my list drop off the kid pick up the kid to pace myself so I had enough left at the end of the day to spend with her.
When I am honest with myself chronic pain has also made my daughter a more sufficient person. Something that I am not sure I could have taught her. Sometimes the best way to learn that is to live it. I used to feel bad that she made herself breakfast at five. When in reality it was teaching her so many practical living skills that she would need.
I still find myself judging people, even other parents. Then I take a step back…okay well maybe not right away, but it does happen. I don’t know what they are going through. I don’t know what issues they are fighting. Deep down every parent is deeply afraid they are going to mess up their child. I have really gone all over the place with this but its easier to not be as judging when you remember that previous sentence.