To the Working Mother With Chronic Pain


To the working mom with chronic pain:

Did you wake up to the sound of tiny humans demanding your attention today, and wish, for a second, that they would go away until the alarm went off, or at least until the pain subsided?

Did you limp through the house to make their breakfast, holding various body parts, asking for them to remember – as always – that they aren’t allowed to cling to your hand, leg, knee, stomach, foot, back, or neck?

Did you tell them, “Not today, Sweetie,” when they asked to be picked up, and die a little as the words slipped out of your mouth?

Did you bear through the pain when you noticed the dejection on their face, grit your teeth through the agony, and hold them?

Did you make them breakfast, complete with everything they would need, make yourself a cup of coffee or tea, and decide you could take a second to ease the pain, a moment to let your body rest from the ache of getting up and moving, only to hear a little voice ask for another cup of juice?

Did you stand in front of the mirror this morning, wondering if you could claim the lack of makeup and messy bun had everything to do with having tiny humans, and nothing to do with your own chronic pain? Did you then try to tackle getting ready, just to look presentable for work, wondering and planning when you could take a nap?

Did you drop the kiddos off at daycare, offer lame smiles to the workers who wonder why you’re not as bubbly and perky as the rest of the mothers at drop off? Did you get in the car and tell yourself that tomorrow you will be more approachable, that tomorrow you will smile with more enthusiasm, that tomorrow, even if it’s a bad day, you will try to be better?

Did you smile at the coworker who wondered why you were limping, again, and make up a lie about a gym injury, knowing you haven’t been to the gym – or even considered it – in years?

Did you ignore the rude tone from another coworker, and ignore complaints that abound throughout the day, because if you addressed the complaints or tone, you might find yourself discussing “rude behavior” or “angry outbursts” with the boss?

Did you accomplish the bare minimum of productivity and hope no one noticed enough to report you, wondering when you became this type of employee?

Did you get into the car at the end of a never-ending day, remember you have to buy groceries at the store, and cry?

Did you pick up the littles from daycare, drive to the store, and mindlessly ask questions about their day without hearing them?

Did you wish you could focus on more than two tasks at once: pushing down the pain, and driving down the road?

Did you make it through the grocery store without incident, ignoring arguing, whining, and grabbing hands, only to get home and lose your temper when a tiny voice used a snarky tone at you?

Did you turn on the TV or tablet, tell the tiny ones to watch their favorite shows, and disappear into the bedroom, just to have a few moments to calm down and readjust your mindset, so that you could make it through the rest of the night?

Did you walk into the kitchen, after taking a moment to yourself, look at the groceries, contemplate the effort needed to prepare, cook, wash, and put away, and wish the food could morph into a pizza?

Did you buy the pizza?

Did you think about everything that goes into the nighttime routine, and wish, for a second, that you didn’t have to be part of any of it: the chaos, the water, the tears over brushing teeth, the fight over pajamas, the prayers which include 300 of your closest friends, and four night night books?

Did you spend time Googling for another diagnosis, a better diagnosis, wondering if you should make another appointment with a different specialist, because this time – maybe this time -they could make you feel human again?

Did you shut the computer in a burst of anger, knowing you don’t want to hear another doctor patronize your symptoms?

Did you get into bed at the end of the day and wish you could be a better mom, a better employee, or a better spouse?

If you did, know that you’re still fighting against the chronic pain, and know that you’re still winning. Yes, you may have cried. Yes, you may have lost your temper. Yes, you may not have been “present” at every moment of the day, the way society has told you that you need to be. But, you also didn’t give up.

At least not today.

Today you held strong against the pain; today you survived. A great mom doesn’t always look like Pinterest parties and craft times. Sometimes, especially on the bad days, a great mom looks like the mom who gets out of bed in the morning, and a mom who survives throughout the day.

To the working mom with chronic pain, I see you. I am you. We can do this, together.

Sincerely,

The single, working mom with chronic pain

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