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When People Call Me 'Strong' as a Mom With Chronic Illness

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I went to pick my son up from school today, and as I waited for the bell, I stood leaning against my cane for support. Two other moms, dear friends actually, noticed I was having a less-than-great day, yet said something that had me taken aback. They said they admired my strength. Me? Strong? What?

I shook my head and denied it, as I have a hard time seeing myself that way. I have no choice but to do what I do. Yes, I live with chronic pain and diabetes. Yes, the pain is neverending, relentless and often debilitating. Yes, I wear two devices on my body 24/7 (an insulin pump and a continuous glucose monitor) to help control my extremely brittle and unpredictable blood sugar. And yes, with them ever present, every day I get up. I take care of my family and home — not always the way I’d like to, but the best I can.

Some days, it’s the bare minimum — pull my hair into a messy bun and if I’m lucky, splash some water on my face and brush my teeth. That’s it for taking care of me. Everything else I have is reserved for making sure my son gets to school with food in his tummy, his lunch packed and looking presentable. Taking him to and picking him up from school is about all I can manage until I can rest some more, hoping to save up some strength to be able to make dinner. After that, it’s bed because I have given literally all I have.

Of course there are good days, days when I feel a tiny bit like my old self. Those are the days I tend to do too much, trying to make up for the not-so-good days and end up paying for it later. But the good days are there.

So… am I strong? Pushing through, no matter how I feel upon waking? I see it as not having a choice. Despite the pain, despite the daily grind of diabetes, I am needed. I am a wife, a mother, a friend and I need to take care of those who rely on me, no matter how bad I feel.

Is that strength? Maybe it is.

Getty photo by Newman Studio.

Originally published: September 2, 2019
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