What I Didn't Expect About Parenting After a Stroke

We all wish there was a book written on parenting, but no one book covers it all. So when I had my stroke in 2012, I knew raising two toddlers was going to be a challenge. The physical difficulties that come with having a stroke can slow down even a young mother who is considered to be in shape, and running after two energetic children was hard. But the physical challenges weren’t the hardest part. No one had prepared me for the emotional effects of the stroke.

Doctors and psychiatrists didn’t talk much about depression while I was in rehab. But I expected days where I didn’t want to get out of bed, when the kids would want to play but Mommy would be too tired or not interested in the activity at hand. I had been depressed before so I knew what depression felt like. No one prepared me for PBA (pseudobulbar affect).

One minute I would be laughing my head off at something that was not that funny, and the next I would be crying, wailing for 20 minutes at a time. This would happen several times a day. I would cry or laugh so hard, sometimes I would wet myself. If I was standing, I would forget to stand and fall to the floor. It was like in the moment, all I could think about was the act of crying or laughing. And I had mood swings. I would get so angry over nothing. It was like I went from 0-60 in a second. And again, this was happening daily. I was relieved when the diagnosis came.

All the while, I was trying to raise two beautiful children. They are now 10 and 12, on the verge of becoming young adults. Mommy is so confusing to them. When they get home from school, they never know if they’ll find laughing her head off Mommy, crying inconsolably Mommy, or angry Mommy. My moods change like the wind. But they do know this: no matter how Mommy is acting, she loves them no matter what. I’m doing my best, trying to figure this parenting thing out just like every other mommy out there. And you know what? They love their mommy too.

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