Helping your children deal with your illness

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Over the past few years, I’ve heard the words “mom, today can we do {blank}?  Yesterday you where in bed all day”. Hearing these words have broken my heart and made me feel like I am failing as a mother.  But I have to remember and tell myself that I am a mother with chronic illnesses and daily pain. I have so many a time found myself in tears and heart ache because I have felt that I am letting my children down.  I am afraid that I’m not a “normal” mother and their disappointment in me is high and reasonably. How do you live your life with chronic pain and illness, and be a “normal” mother?

What is normal?

I have a special needs daughter that is high functioning autistic.  Over the years, we have come to terms with the fact that there isn’t a “normal” anymore so in our home, we use the word “typical”.  Our kids don’t say “she is normal” or “that’s a  normal thing to do” but its more “that’s a typical thing to do” It’s ok to not say normal when talking about everyone else but when it comes to myself, I’m harder on myself and don’t allow myself to not be “normal”.  I’m afraid that if Im not normal to my kids, then they wont have the advantage of having a mom that doesn’t give them the world.  I need to realistic on myself as everyone else is.  The kids see that I try, and I try hard, that needs to be the best I can do.

Know your limits.

If you are having a bad day , order takeout for dinner, ignore the dust-bunnies, and let the laundry go unwashed, it can all wait. Your health and well-being are more important than a dirty-dish-filled sink. Call in reinforcements if you have them,  relatives or neighbors, just know when to ask for help. It is alright to need and ask for assistance. Older siblings are a great resource for this, should you be lucky enough to have one or two around at your disposal, just make sure that they know how much they are appreciated.

Don’t dwell on the negative.

This is understandably more easily said than done, but understand that you are not your illness. The ability to find gratitude in even the smallest things can change your perceptions on a daily basis. This is a skill that takes practice. And remember, a bad 5 minutes does not equate a bad day. I’ve done other blog post on being positive. Find that blog here.

Change your expectations and learn to navigate your “new normal”

This could be one of the hardest to accomplish. Your vision of what family life would and should be based on past ideas and hopes might need to be dramatically altered to allow for having an unpredictable illness. This is not to say that you should give up on your hopes and dreams, but continually dwelling on the past, or reliving the thought pattern of wondering what would have my life been like if wasn’t chronically ill? can prevent you from seeing any joy or satisfaction in the present moments that you do have with your family. Even if it is not exactly as you had envisioned, life is a gift. Your children live in the present and need you to be present with them. Allowing yourself to feel this way will take a lot of patience, kindness, and love. You will still have good days and bad ones as you navigate through the right formula of thought patterns that work best for you.

Unfortunately, we don’t get to choose to live with a chronic illness or not.  We have to have to learn how to deal with the hand that was dealt to us. So instead of letting it guilt you into oblivion, allow the fact that you are fighting on with this additional challenge, empower you. YOU ARE STRONG! Believe in yourself and change from the norm to the new “typical”.

 

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