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When People Judge My Son's Health by My Makeup Choices

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Our society is so wrapped up in appearances, but I never thought my ability to cope with my son Jacob’s severe medical issues would be judged on the basis of my appearance. And it’s happened more than once. Let me explain.

Several weeks ago, I had the chance to do something I don’t often have time for: put on makeup before going to an appointment. The specialist we saw on this particular day commented on the fact that I was wearing makeup and I didn’t “look so tired, so things must be going better with Jacob’s health.” I chose not to say anything but thanked her for the “compliment.” I brushed it off.

On another day, I was in a meeting with a few other professionals in Jacob’s life, and one individual commented on how tired I looked without makeup and asked if I had a rushed day because I wasn’t wearing anything to cover up my tiredness.

That got me thinking. Has society become so fixated on appearances that people think they can judge my ability to cope with my son’s diseases on whether or not I have makeup on? Did you stop to consider why I might look tired? Isn’t it possible I’m tired from the fact that some nights Jacob’s IV feeding pump might beep several times? Or that I might have had to get up in the middle of the night to wipe tears of pain away or to help with his nausea/vomiting? Could I be tired from trying to ensure all the health care providers involved in Jacob’s care are communicating and are on the same page so he doesn’t fall through the cracks?

Melissa and her son

You see me for a brief time every few weeks/months. You see me at my worst. Every parent’s worst nightmare is for their child to have serious health issues. You see me when I’m feeling completely helpless on the days when hope seems so far away, you’re left searching for a way to go on. You see me when I’m confused, frustrated and scared.

Yet, I’m carrying on. I’m putting one foot in front of the other and taking those baby steps. I’m celebrating the small successes. But you don’t see those things because we want to address the issues that remain and are affecting Jacob’s quality of life rather than the things we’ve already been through. You see us because we’re coming to you for help, not because we’re coming to you to brag about what we’ve done. You see us, but in reality, it’s only a tiny part you get to see.

So in the future, take the time to consider the other person’s situation before making judgments based on assumptions. Take the time to consider the person you’re looking at has so much more going on than you can possibly know. Offer compassion instead of judgment. Kindness instead of pity. Most of all, offer understanding and encouragement for the better days ahead.

Follow this journey on Jacob’s Healing Rooms.

Originally published: October 21, 2015
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