The following situations are based on my experiences. Please contact your doctor for any medical advice regarding your personal circumstance.
Let me start out by saying that being “good enough” is falling way short in my perfectionist world. I am completely capable of creating a safe and loving environment for my family, even on my sickest day. I also have a great support system when I need help (assuming I would actually make the call to ask…). However, being chronically sick has left me feeling isolated, frustrated, and inferior so many times.
I imagine every parent feels pulled in too many different directions. Add in total body exhaustion, mental fogginess, physical pain, and any other variety of ongoing symptoms and it’s no wonder that many chronically sick moms feel helpless and alone. Sometimes it’s hard to distinguish what is “normal mom exhaustion” or what is a struggle because I’m sick. I wonder if I do enough for the amazing people in my life and
try not to imagine what these people will think of me as I continue to be sick. I spend my time trying to be a good enough mom, wife, daughter, sister, friend, neighbor, and so on.
By the end of the day, exhaustion sets in. We’ve played and read for hours. We’ve painted and played soccer. I’ve cooked, cleaned, and done laundry. I’ve kept the house running and our family functional. (Okay, I may have also caught an episode or two of TV during nap time…) By the time my husband gets home, I’m so relieved to see him. On a good day, I’ll cook while he enjoys time playing with our daughter. On a bad day, I’ll escape to the couch or our bed to rest.
I was a wife long before my daughter was born and will continue to be one long after she moves out of our home. I know how important it is to cultivate our marriage, but it isn’t always easy. Intimacy after having a child can be challenging; add in a chronic illness or medication that affects hormones to the mix and you can basically kiss your love life good bye. Exhaustion is mutual by the time we get our daughter to bed. Watching Netflix and ordering a pizza is our usual way to unwind. Finding a way to remain more deeply connected despite my medical struggles has been difficult. We have learned to accept where our lives are now and make an effort to plan date nights (never often enough) and take some time to talk or enjoy a few quiet moments together.
I’m learning to let go of some of my perfectionist expectations and embrace the day for what it is. If I’m not feeling up to an outing, I enjoy the time at home coloring and reading. When driving isn’t an option, I’m thankful to live close to the park, stores, and restaurants. No matter how awful I feel, I do my best to make the most out of every day and that seems like a pretty good lesson for a kid to learn. As Dory put it, “Just keep swimming, just keep swimming…”
In case you missed The Background of my chronic illness journey, you can check it out here. Tune in next month for Tips for the Tough Days…