3 Ways to Honor Moms With Chronic Pain
Teething, tantrums, sleep deprivation. Being a mom is hard work — for all moms. If you live every day with chronic illness, you know how it feels to balance the normal demands of motherhood on top of the worry, fear and misery that can accompany a life with daily pain.
I’m a mom who is always reading, learning and researching everything I can in order to provide the best life possible for my son. Unfortunately, what I’ve learned since becoming a mom is that women with pain and illness are often ignored in parenting literature. In light of Mother’s Day, my hope is that moms in pain are acknowledged and that we can bring awareness to the extra challenges they bear:
1. Remember that a mom living with illness has to face many worries every day.
These worries, of course, are in addition to the fears and concerns all moms have to manage. Is this medication compatible with nursing? Did I wait enough hours after taking it to breastfeed? Will I be judged for formula feeding if I’m unable to breastfeed due to my condition? If I have to stay up all night with my teething toddler, will the sleep deprivation cause a pain flare-up? How does seeing me in pain every day affect my child psychologically? Will today be a day full of pain, or will I be able to enjoy the day with my son/daughter? If I need surgery, will I be able to recover and care for my child at the same time? The list never ends. Just offering your understanding of the unique worries a mom in pain faces can help tremendously.
2. Give her some time to rest or enjoy a favorite hobby.
Parenting takes energy and when you have pain, energy is a finite commodity. Many people are now familiar with Christine Miserandino’s spoon theory, which she used as a metaphorical way to explain lupus to her friend. While healthy people don’t always have to consider how much energy each task of their day will use, people with illness have to be perpetually cognizant of the energy everyday tasks will steal from their day. If I take my baby for a walk in the stroller on this nice morning, will I still be able to function enough to make them dinner tonight? If I lift my toddler in and out of the car seat this afternoon, will I be writhing in pain by tonight? What will I do if my pain is so bad I can’t move later and there isn’t anyone else to help care for my son/daughter?
3. Don’t assume a mom is pain-free.
Moms will do what it takes to care for their children, often at any cost to their own health. Just because you know a mom who is doing a stellar job caring for her child (however young or old that child may be), that doesn’t necessarily mean she isn’t hurting. Let us not forget that moms in pain have good days and bad days, and that sometimes, for the sake of their children, they can be really, really good at pretending.
Follow this journey on Mothering With Chronic Pain.
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