When Chronic Pain and Fatigue Make Me Feel Like the ‘World’s Worst Mom’
When I was much younger, I always imagined a picture-perfect, Disney-princess-movie-worthy life that included Prince Charming, a home full of miniature versions of myself and my husband, along with a couple of furry friends. I wouldn’t have thought for one moment that in the reality version of my life, I would be a middle-aged bride, first-time mom a year after marriage and a person who has chronic pain and fatigue. I have a handsome and loving man in my life whom I share a young, joy-filled son we adore and love.
My son is always full of this amazing, endless supply of energy and physical swiftness that would put even a hungry lion to shame on its best hunting day ever. My husband is five years older than me but is in great physical shape, tall, slender, muscular, handsome, looks younger than he is and has the physical agility to chase after our son in public places such as a store, the park, church, parking lots, theme parks and more. I on the other hand am tall but far from slender, nowhere near fast (a snail could beat my stride) and I couldn’t even chase a fly quick enough to swat at it. Also, since the birth of our son, I’ve never been able to shed any of the weight I gained in pregnancy even though it fluctuates often.
Because of my now unmanageable pain, I had to leave the work force a few years ago. I also find it quite difficult to concentrate and think clearly on most days. I’m usually in some sort of brain fog from the side effects of the prescribed medications I take, am usually always experiencing higher-than-normal levels of pain now accompanied by daily headaches and extreme moodiness. I also now walk with assisted mobility devices. This is the prologue to the type of mother I didn’t envision I would one day be but have had to realize I am.
It pains me that instead of desiring to cuddle up with my child and read to him or help engage him in some kind of educational activity, I yell at him for jumping on me and trying to use my body as his own personal trampoline. It pains me that instead of helping him learn new things, I have made the television become his non-human nanny. It pains me that because of my shame for not being able to physically keep up with him at all, I’d rather bypass trips to the park or any other public outings with him period. I have become a mom who shouts, telling her child in public or at home to stop that, don’t do that, what did I say or stop screaming. I am a mom who lies on the couch or in bed whimpering and crying because my pain levels are too much for me to bear, and my small child is always the one who discovers me first and runs off to inform his dad or tries to comfort me with hugs and soft pats on my back with his tiny hands.
But I am also that mom who struggles to fight through the medication-induced brain fog every morning to warm up a small breakfast to satisfy my toddler’s grumbling morning tummy. I am that mom who stands at the kitchen sink in the middle of the night while in a tremendous amount of pain to wash out the bottle my son drinks his evening and morning milk out of. I am that mom who limps into her son’s room late at night during a painsomnia attack to look at her sleeping child and make sure he’s comfortably tucked in while the air conditioner is blowing. I am that mom who surprises her son with toys, pajamas, bedroom slippers and more that I order online during one of my better days. I am that mom who prays over his life and who prays over his dreams even though I often feel hopeless about my own.
I am probably my own worst critic. I might not actually be the world’s worst mom, but I often feel like it. That is one of the reasons why I have decided to seek out therapy and finding a professional who can help me navigate through my life of pain and help me to realistically determine if I am in fact the worst mom, wife, daughter, friend ever. The reality is that dealing with chronic pain, chronic fatigue or any type of chronic health issue can eventually take its toll on you physically, emotionally and even spiritually. I do hope to become a better or the best mom possible to my son and a better or best wife possible to my husband, but I know I’m going to need help with this journey from a professional therapist, along with my faith and personal religious beliefs. I cannot and will not continue to beat myself up over who I am not but have decided to focus more on who I can grow to be. And hopefully one day, in the near future, I won’t still feel like the worst mom ever.
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Thinkstock image by George Doyle