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To the Mother Who Was Forever Changed By Chronic Illness

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To the mother whose parenting was forever changed by chronic illness:

You had a period of your life when you mothered your children without the burden of illness. You have tasted what it feels like to be a parent who is well.

You can recall periods of life when prepping kids for school didn’t force you back into bed once they’re in class, leaving tears in your eyes from the pain.

When they weren’t late to school often because you had to wait for meds to kick in before you could get out of bed.

When you didn’t have to save energy for a day prior to a play date.

When you didn’t have to Google how far it is from the car-park to the playground you were meeting friends at, and what the seating arrangements were.

When you could come to field trips and school events because you didn’t need to constantly sit down.

When you could prepare three decent meals in one day, unassisted, and actually have the energy to do more than lay down in the remaining hours.

When you didn’t have to leave every event early.

I see how you measure yourself every day against the woman you used to be.

I feel the pain you feel when you push through so your kids can have a window into their old life.

I feel the anxiety you feel when money is tight because you can’t work as much (or at all) anymore.

I feel the rush of embarrassment you feel when the school asks for parent volunteers again.

I feel the way you set your jaw to keep the tears back when you are comforting your child as they mourn the loss of the mother you were.

I feel your internal fight against the darkness that tells you your pain isn’t worth the fight and makes you feel like your kids would be “better off” if they had another mother anyway.

I feel the inferiority you feel when your cognitive fog makes important events dissolve in your brain, and you forget to send something important to school.

I feel the frustration as you look around your house, seeing all that needs to be done, and the self-loathing you feel when you know there’s nothing you can do about it.

I feel the alienation you feel when other parents discuss outings you couldn’t possibly attend.

I feel the sorrow you feel for your children because they can’t go to something because of you.

I feel the inadequacy you feel when you have to ask for help, or allowances or special treatment yet again. I feel it all. It’s overwhelming. It’s more than anyone should have to bear.

But, mama, you are here, bearing it. Trying your best to make you children feel the same amount of love they used to, even if now, it comes from words and cuddles and Netflix in bed instead of cooking and activities and physical presence.

On top of everything else, you drag yourself through every day. The days you can’t  get out of bed you still fight the whole way through. I know you do. Because I do. I know no one else can understand the strength it takes to be you for a day. That even though you appear weak physically, you are a powerhouse of internal strength. You are amazing.

One day, your children will look back at their childhood, and remember the good times before your illness began with fondness. But they will also remember the good times after. They will recognize how much you fought. They will see how strong you were and know how strong they themselves can be. They will persevere because they know it can be done. And that is a gift worth giving them.

Stay strong for them. Know that I’m over here staying strong for my kids too. You are not alone.


Another sick mother, fighting through it, just like you.

Getty image via tarasov_vl.

Originally published: October 23, 2019
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