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How I Respond When My Daughter Says 'It Sucks' to Have Type 1 Diabetes

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“This sucks”

You’re allowed to say that, you know.

You’re allowed to smirk at inspirational memes about how, “You’ve got this.” You’re allowed to roll your eyes at yet another, “I’m a superhero mom of a Type 1 diabetic child” picture.

Because, well, it sucks.

And sometimes we need to be able to admit that glaringly obvious truth — not just to ourselves, but to our children as well.

Look, my journey with Type 1 diabetes started when my daughter was 2 years old, and she’s only 5 now. For now it’s all she knows, so I haven’t had that particular conversation with an older child or teenager… yet.

What I do know, however, is that when your child comes to you saying how hard this condition is — how much it sucks, how unfair it is, how they don’t have the energy to do it all over again today — you don’t need to be a peppy-platitudes-cheerleader all the time. Simply saying, “Yes, it sucks. And I can’t even imagine how much it sucks for you,” may be all they actually want and need to hear.

And no, I’m not saying don’t build your children up, don’t give them encouragement or don’t tell them how strong they are. Because they need that from us, too.

But, personally, I’ve made a promise to myself: to never diminish or negate my daughter’s pain with platitudes. Not when she clearly needs me to be a sounding-board, and not a Sally-sunshine.

Because I’m aware of the danger inherent in mirroring a mask with my words — one she may feel inclined to constantly wear herself.

I want her to know that admitting her pain is not the same as throwing a pity-party. It’s called honesty. It’s called the tremendous courage of displaying vulnerability. And if I don’t create that space where she feels safe in baring her brokenness, how will she ever know it’s OK to not always be OK?

And, as for me, I will try to display that same courage.

So next time you ask me how I’m doing after yet another sleepless and fearful night, I’ll try my best to answer you honestly:

“I’m not OK today. It sucks.”

Getty image by Archv

Originally published: June 11, 2018
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