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A Day in the Life of Spoonie Mama

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To understand a typical day in my life as a spoonie, or “Spoonie Mama,” as I like to call myself, you first have to understand what the spoon theory is. A short explanation is as follows. Any person with chronic illness (invisible or visible) starts every day with a certain number of spoons or energy levels, and as you perform your daily tasks, spoons are taken away.

Due to my migraines and irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), I can start a day with anywhere from seven spoons to 30. Here is what a day in my life looks like on a low spoon day.

Monday, September 12, 2016

Spoon Total (ST): 10

5 a.m.

Wake up to my son crying in his swing. Ughh, why does he wake up this early now? Realize he’s not going back to sleep and bring him into bed to nurse and bedshare to get a few more precious hours of sleep.

ST: 9.5

Here we go, down half a spoon. Why, you may ask? Why is such an easy task of getting my little munchkin into bed to nurse and sleep so exhausting? Simple. This particular day happened to be day five of my migraine. I had been in a varying degree of pain levels from about four to seven for the past five days. You see, when you’ve had a chronic illness that is painful for more than half your life, pain is your frenemy. That epic bitch who is also your dear friend. She encourages you to do your best and also makes you curl up in a corner and want to die.

8:30 a.m.

Ow! I’m being repeatedly pinched by tiny adorable hands of doom trying to get me awake. I struggle to focus on real life, and get over being pissed that my head is still hurting and I have to get up anyway. Pee, gather my son’s toys, and play with him in bed until he gets bored.

ST: 8.5

OK, so I’ve been awake enough to realize my migraine is at a solid six today. Six meaning all noise feels like minute daggers digging into the vice I call my head. If you’ve ever had a headache you know basic migraine symptoms… but multiply them by 10. No, I’m not exaggerating. Anyway, I am down a whole spoon, because I love playing with my son… which means I’m making monster noises, giggling and giving all his toys cartoon voices to keep him engaged. My brain is not happy, but my heart is.

9 a.m.

We go downstairs and I put him in his ExerSaucer so he can jump around and use some of his pent-up energy. I make a vegan protein shake so I have something easy to scarf down with one hand, while I put dinner in the crock pot. Meanwhile I am trying to drown out the shrieking banshee (adorable giggles) of my happy little baby. Soon enough his shrieks of glee turn into crocodile tears of boredom. I rush over to him and transfer Charlie into his pink high chair that I got on sale at Target. Yay, clearance section!

I arrange his favorite toys carefully on the tray I haphazardly cleaned the night before. Meanwhile mentally doing a roll call of my troops who are about to fight in the battle of boredom: mini bunny tennis racket, Mr. Bear, rubber whale and a clean paper towel. Soon enough my warriors are strewn across my kitchen floor, taken down by tiny mighty biceps and snot rockets.

There’s only one move before I resort to my fail-safe tactic: a banana. This weapon may seem odd to some but for Spoonie Mama it is one of my favorites. It starts with an overly ripe browned gooey banana goodness. I know this will occupy my little angel who will be subdued for at least seven minutes, give or take a few. Which means I can scarf down that shake I meant to drink while cleaning up messes from the night before. Cue my little monkey smacking his lips on my sweet peace-offering, while I get to debate how many spoons I have left and what will or will not get done today.

10:30 a.m.

Sponge bath and dad time! Meanwhile on this particular day, I am stuck on the toilet because irritable bowel syndrome does not give one flying fuck that I wanted to eat and relax…

ST: 5.5

Imagine doing all your daily activities in massive fog while kicking yourself in the face… you’d tire fast too.

11:30 a.m.

Yay, magic boobie time! My handsome little love will nurse and sleep for at least an hour if I do not move.

ST: 5

Usually, I am tired as well so I just rest during this time and try to conserve spoons. Although, the niplash, pinching and being trapped while I need to pee costs half a spoon.

12:30 p.m.

Diaper change and quick playtime on the mat while I make sure dinner is going well. Nurse for a little longer, and he finishes up his nap.

1 p.m.

Charlie wakes up fully and is extremely hyper. Lots of giggles, grabbing toys and tummy time. Airplane! Superman! Sitting, standing while holding my hands, and story time (BTW, who decided Aesop’s fables made for a great book of children’s stories?! So much death! WTF?!).

3 p.m.

Lunch time! Today we did apple puree that I made at home in my nutri bullet. Apple gets everywhere… sponge bath #2.

4:30 p.m.

Nurse/nap… for both of us.

ST: 3

OK, but nap time for Spoonie Mama is not like nap time for baby. I am getting my nipple bitten off while trying to get comfortable on our ugly floral print couch, and I just happen to pass out while Charlie is pinching my boob in his sleep. But the few minutes of shut-eye help me conserve a spoon to go food shopping! Yay!

6 p.m.

Grab all the baby crap and baby. Insert into car. Sit in back while making weird faces to keep baby calm on 25-minute trip to store. Curse our small town for not having a reasonably priced store closer to our house. Husband wears baby, while we shop and then I feed Charlie in the car before we go. Hope to God, he falls asleep… he does! Victory!

ST: 1.5

After a long day, the fluorescent lights in the store only enhance the spikes of pain in my head, making me forget what I want to buy dozens of times. I find myself walking back and forth remembering things not on the list and hating the things that are.

7:30 p.m.

Dad puts groceries away. I change baby and play a little longer.

8:30 p.m.

Bedtime! I thank God for making it through another day and I nurse our little munchkin to sleep.

ST: 0.5

Now is the hardest part of the day. The ultimate decision. Borrow against tomorrow’s spoons and clean, work out, etc.? Or… become one with the couch and a bowl of chili?

9:30 p.m.

Eat. Netflix. Pass out.

ST: 0

Tomorrow’s another day. Maybe I will be able to do more… maybe I will be able to do less. All I know is that every day, no matter how hard, is a good day with my family. They help me tough it out because nothing is better than seeing my husband and son smile at me.

This story originally appeared on Spoonie Mama.

Getty Image by jacoblund

Originally published: March 30, 2018
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