The debate has always revolved around working moms and stay at home moms. Who works harder? Who has more on their plate? Sometimes all of us come together and have each other’s backs, which are some of the nicest moments on the internet. There are other times we can’t stop arguing and fighting one another for a higher sympathetic spot on the mommy acceptance ladder. That’s all it is, we all want to be validated. We all want to be told that we are important.
I am no different so let me get in the ring myself with another kind of fight that many moms are fighting and no one seems to normally even think twice about; the chronically ill moms. Yes, that’s a real thing. It is a real problem. We could be working moms or we could be stay at home moms. Either way, it suuuuuucks. People think of being ”sick” as the little flu, some aches, and pains here and there. No, no, no my friend this is a different kind of beast. This comes hard, and strong and it is here to stay. This beast takes over your life, so much so that all you see is the red swollen angry eyes of this hungry monster that just wants more and more. Every time you think you have a few moments free of its grasp for your family, it pulls you right back with the most painful jolt.
Alright, should I start using English? yeah? I was diagnosed with Rheumatoid Arthritis some 25 years ago. Then give or take 15 years or ago I developed sciatica. My back and left leg felt useless. Eventually couldn’t move around, was in bed for about 3 months then I decided to get surgery because I was literally out of options.
It wasn’t the worst of times, we made the best of it. My niece and I binged on Charmed and Buffy, The Vampire Slayer. All the while the other side of my bed was turned into my work station because I was running a magazine at the time.
Back on my feet now, however, the pain came back within 6 months. I am still walking around so…yay! No, but really. This wasn’t sarcasm. Really. I was bedridden for 3 months. I’m so glad that’s over, I hope it never comes to that again. For some reason, everything sounds sarcastic when I write it down or…you know…say it.
Chronic pain has just been a part of my life. I thought I had a pretty good handle on it. Then came the kids. Back to back, 11 months apart. They are my biggest accomplishment. By far the most difficult and beautiful feat I’ve accomplished in my life. I thought having them was the hardest part.
Gradually I realized I have to live with them every day. I realized I have to pick up a 20 lb toddler when my shoulder is completely stiff and my back and leg feel like someone has jammed nails in them. I’ve been up all night with the baby and I can’t take any of the pain medication because I’m nursing. That just sounds like every new mom’s story, doesn’t it? Nothing new. Nothing impressive. But this is not a regular old pain. This is not a regular shoulder spasm. This is an ugly monster that has been with me for 25 years. What does it look like? what does it look like when its been with you for so long? What does this beast say to you when one arm and one leg refuse to move and you have two children to take care of? You don’t have time to feel or to stop for it. You can only negotiate with this beast. Hey there, if I can only pick up my arm up to THIS point and bend my leg just so, I’ll be able to change his diaper. Just hold on okay? Just give me this long alright? Then I’ll go collapse on the bed. Deep breathe, hold on, aaaaand let go.
Consequently, I spent long hours cuddling with my kids. It’s still our favorite thing to do because on most days its all I can handle.
Cuddles can’t be the only thing I do as a mom though. There’s homework, activities at school, friends, bday parties and a whole mess of things. What kind of mom would I be if I didn’t partake in all of those activities? Even worse what kind of mom would I be if I partook in those activities limping or showing any other sign of weakness or of being ill. Us moms are supposed to be superhuman creatures who are beyond perfect, any sign of weakness and waver we don’t get an invite to the super secret mom’s club. Okay, that was clear cut sarcasm. I hope everyone is clear on that.
You gotta be there at everything, every time. What do you reckon it does to our bodies and our minds? Mush, they become obsolete mush. The pain, the tiredness, everything is next level. We don’t have the energy to have our own lives. We don’t even have the energy to even think about having our own life. I would give my life for my kids. In all honesty, some days of giving my life seem easier than giving my time and energy because it feels like a slow death. Every part of my body hurts. HURTS. Joints don’t move. Some have permanent damage so they cannot be bent in certain directions so that’s always fun. Cannot open jars and bottles for the life of me. Also fun. I’ve asked random strangers to do that for me. I’m pretty sure some have thought I’m trying to flirt with them by being some damsel in distress. No, just exhausted and suffering from RA and have really thirsty kids that cannot wait for us to get home. I’m sure you’re a nice guy though. Thanks!
Needing to be on my feet and sane of mind are the two most important aspects of parenthood, those become the hardest when you are chronically ill.
Some good is coming out of this though. My kids are becoming independent much faster than they would have otherwise. They know mama is not getting up to do little chores for them so they either go get their own shoes or just go out in the house slippers.
I also don’t want to sound ungrateful because I have help. I’m so thankful for it. However, I’m the mother, it comes down to me. I’m not even the type who wants to do everything all the time. I’m okay with delegating and taking help. Nevertheless, I know for a lot of things my kids need me and for some things they simply want me.
I’m okay with that. I know this whole article I’ve complained about working and doing chores and now I’m saying it’s all good. Well, they are my kids, this is my life. The message I am trying to pass on is that the next time you see me walking around with a limp or a bandaged wrist just know that nothing “happened” so to speak. This is my life and I can’t hide it to make everyone around me comfortable. I want people to be okay with it so I can be okay with who I am, the way I am. Mostly when “defected” ones like me write about our issues it’s, for the most part, not to gain sympathies. Usually, it’s to build understanding and start a dialogue with those around us.
In conclusion: I’m not ungrateful, I’m too exhausted to pretend to not be exhausted.