Love. Marriage. Kids. Career. The American Dream, right? But at what cost?
From the outside, I have it all. But I tend to keep my fence built high, so it's rare people see inside. Having it all - it's great. Having it all is also constant give and take, compromise, and work. Couple all of that with a body that tries to kill you every day, and having it all doesn't seem so great anymore.
I can't complain about my life - but sometimes it's hard to see everything I have when I feel like my illnesses are tearing down every piece of "good" I've worked so hard for. I have the family I never dreamed I'd have...and every day I feel as though this perfect little family - especially my child - is dragged through a life they never deserved...
Terrible Twos. Threenagers. Tantrums, attitudes, and meltdowns as communication abilities develop faster than the comprehension of them. Toddlerhood is a daily ride down a twisty road you’ve never explored, and sometimes, for a parent with chronic illness, it can be heartbreaking.
My toddler is just like others – rambunctious, full of energy, a spitball and a tiny human who is full of self-discovery. She is strong, healthy, and outgoing – sweet and sour. She’s also being raised by a mother who is sick more than she’s healthy, and I can see how it’s made her different.
My sweet girl starts every morning by rubbing my face, asking me how I’m feeling. “Mama, do you feel okay today? Mama, are you hurting?” While my heart bursts with her sweetness it also breaks a little each time. Her genuine concern because of what she’s already seen tears me apart in ways I cannot even put in words. When she’s running around in circles in her superhero cape and comes to a dead stop to come to me and rub my hands, asking if they hurt. When she notices that I’m sitting at the table with her while she eats but “mama, you not eating. Is your tummy hurting again?” When she knows Target not by the iconic Bullseye but by the “heart” on the building because “that’s where mama gets medicine.” She is on a first name basis with the pharmacists and gets genuinely confused when we walk past the pharmacy without picking up a drug. And my heart breaks for her “normal”.
I’ve written about this before, but it never gets easier. In fact, it seems to evolve and hurt more, the older and more aware that she gets. She has seen her mother go through so much and has already had to learn the ups and downs of not having a normal mother.
I know in the end it will all help my daughter to grow to be full of compassion, empathy and a desire to help others, and for that I feel thankful. It still doesn’t take away the pain of wondering how much of her life is being stalled because of her concerns she already has about her mama’s health…