When You Don't Have the Spoons to Parent...
It’s been a minute since I’ve been around y’al! As you all know, flares…they just come as they please regardless of what is going on in your life. October was set up to be a super busy month already, and I was already worried about how I was going to make it out alive. So wouldn’t you know that I was completely sidelined most of the month fighting my own body.
Well, I’m here now and I’m ready to once again work to get back to square one in all aspects of my life. Sometimes the hardest thing about a flare is how far it removes you from your life, and then the struggle to regain that homeostasis once you’re out of the woods but not pushing too hard to send yourself right back! It’s exhausting in itself! Throw parenting a toddler, work, making time for relationships AND yourself in with trying to play the catch-up game…it’s always incredible how we find the types of strength we have to get through it all.
I always thought cleaning up the aftermath of a flare was the worst part of chronic illness. Then I became a parent and holy crap I HAD NO IDEA HOW MUCH WORK ALL YOU SPOONIE PARENTS HAD ADDED TO YOUR ALREADY SUPER FULL PLATES.
For real though. Before when I’d get sick, I’d call in to work, and focus on me. My husband knew to let me be, understanding that I don’t like people hovering when I’m sick and that I’d go to him if I needed something. But it doesn’t work that way with a toddler. Oh no. A toddler needs you 24/7. A toddler can’t feed themselves, bathe themselves, wipe their own butts or understand the full extent of “mommy is sick.” And when they become very ill, it becomes a slippery slope of how to divide your few and far between spoons in order to survive – literally.
I have spent years now with the guilt of being a “spoonie parent” – it started the minute I found out I was pregnant. How could I do this? How is my illness ever going to be fair to my child? How awful is their childhood going to be with a parent that literally cannot do everything her friends’ parents can? Will they be ashamed of me? Will they feel like they missed out because of me? These are just a few of the thoughts that have lingered since that positive pregnancy test, but the further along I get in this parenting thing, the more I am realizing that my kid is pretty awesome, and I feel like a lot of that is BECAUSE she has a spoonie mom.
My toddler has so much empathy. That child nearly ran into traffic because she was at the playground, heard a child crying and dropped everything to find that child to make sure they were okay. Any bruised knee or scrape a playmate gets – she’s the first one to offer snuggles and comfort regardless of how much fun she was having. She will stop what she’s doing in her gymnastics class to help along one of her buddies who is scared to try something new and is amazing at offering words of encouragement. She can tell even when I try to hide it when mama isn’t at her best – she’ll play softly and quietly, put my head in her lap and rub my face when I’m having extreme pain and can’t quite move and will even tell her dad when he gets home from work to “help mama”.
I know a lot can change as the years go on, but as someone who has literally had friends drop them like hot garbage the minute you had to cancel plans because of an illness, I have high hope that my daughter will grow to be the friend that will love and support her friends through anything. She will be the friend who will show up with hot cocoa and snacks to sit on the couch and watch crappy tv when her BFF can’t go out dancing instead of making her feel bad. She will see the person struggling to put a bag of groceries in their trunk and lend a helping hand and a gentle smile. She’ll make friends with the kid who might walk or talk differently.
All of this is hypothetical, of course, but it keeps me going and it helps me believe that my illness is not damaging my child and that I can raise a strong and kind human despite my illnesses. Seeing the glimmers into her future remind me that I’m doing a great job – even when that means making up “games” like “give mama a nap” where the goal is to tuck in mama, help her with a pillow and turn off the lights (yes, this is my favorite game!)
I would like to end this by letting you all know that my three-year old is a total asshole, just like every other three-year old. I know I really threw out those positives, but she is definitely as much of a threenager as any other. I don’t wanna get it twisted, but I do want to honor how amazing she can be when those around her are in need <3.
Photo because she's cute and also because it perfectly shows the threenager "look-at-me" stage we are currently in...send help and spoons please!