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Why I Hate Being Asked 'How Are You?' as a Medical Mama

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On most days of my life as a medical mama, I can not stand to be asked, “How are you?” If I’m honest, such simple words can turn into an internal struggle I could do without. Most people ask as a courtesy, a habit even. I do too! While it’s polite and appreciated, I’m pretty sure all they want is a simple, “I’m good. How are you?” and to move on with the conversation.

It’s hard to determine whether a person wants the whole truth or if they are just being kind to ask as a formality. I start to debate if I should answer honestly and I start to question everything.

Do they want to really want to know? Am I going to scare them with my answers? Should I just let them hear what they want to hear? Do I look like I’m panicking right now?

When I feel like they would actually like to know, I wonder how do I explain? How do I just start to let it all out and tell someone, “No. I am not OK. Things right now are really, really hard.”

Sometimes when the question is genuine, I find I am not in the right place to even respond. Sometimes I am at work, at school drop-off, at a party or a gathering. Is now really the right time to launch into details? More than likely the answer would be “no.”

So what happens? I answer with, “I’m good, thank you.” All the while my insides are screaming, “I have so much to say and I have been denied the chance.” Even if you had no intention of taking it, it hurts… just a little.

But guess what? It is OK not to be OK. Do you want to know why? Because you and I have made it to another day. I don’t care what you had to do to get here. You did it. You deserve it.

Let’s be honest here.

Hearing bad news again is not OK.

Fearing for your child’s life is not OK.

Sitting next to a hospital bed is not OK.

Handling appointments, schedules, medications, specialists, IEP meetings, therapy and a million other things while trying to pay your bills is not OK.

It makes you a badass parent, but it does not have to be OK.

We do all of it because we have no other choice. We sat and got the job done. Whether you cried the whole time or did it with a straight face, you rocked it. You did. Not anyone else.

So go out and celebrate not being OK. Because it is more than OK to do so.

Photo credit: KatarzynaBialasiewicz/Getty Images

Originally published: February 22, 2019
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