When I was younger I rarely got sick. Hardly needed to take any sick days. Didn’t worry about picking up whatever the latest bug was going through the office.
Now, forget about it. I feel like I’m basically always sick with something. This past fall I had a cold that seemed to last forever and made two trips to the ER – once because of a horrible, random bloody nose and the second time for a really bad stomach virus. Within the past month I’ve been fighting off another cold and this past weekend got another stomach virus. I also struggle with migraines. I mean WTF? Enough already, I’m so over being sick.
I’m sure a big part of it is from having a toddler who goes to daycare. I seem to get whatever cycles through those kiddos, even if my daughter didn’t directly get it herself.
What I’ve been thinking about a lot lately is how hard it is to be a mom and be sick. And I don’t mean in the my partner isn’t helping out so I can’t rest kind of way (although that for many is often the case) but on a deeper level than that. I find that I’m really missing out on quality time with my daughter.
Since I work outside of the house, the time I get to spend with my daughter is already limited. When I’m out of commission for an entire day on the weekend, I feel like precious time is slipping away. And if this was just one day every few months that would be one thing, but being sick so often has meant there’s been a lot of ‘mommy needs to lay down and rest’ time. I can see the disappointment on my child’s face when I tell her I can’t play with her because I don’t feel well, and shit that hurts.
I also feel like this impacts my bond with her. I’ve written in the past about how she went through a (long) period of time where she preferred her dad and it did change for a while. But I’ve noticed that her daddy preference is creeping back in as I’ve been sick more often and he’s spent more time playing with her than I have. As much as I try to not let it bother me, it hurts when she pushes me away because she wants her dad.
I have a sister who lives with chronic illness and being sick as often as I have only gives me more compassion for those suffering with things much more serious than the common cold or a stomach bug. It must be so hard to deal with your own personal medical issues while raising young kids. I know that I feel guilty and upset when I can’t engage with my daughter in the way I want because I’m out of commission, so I can only imagine how difficult that is for people who are truly chronically ill.
I think I’m just feeling moved to send a huge hug to all the parents out there who struggle with taking care of themselves while also taking care of little ones. I hope you know that you ARE good parents and that it’s not your fault you aren’t able to engage with your children as much as you wish you could. I empathize with your struggle and have to believe that kids who are raised by a parent with chronic illness will be kinder, more compassionate souls because they understand first-hand how challenging it is to just get through each day.
So this week I’m sending my love out to you, parents with chronic illnesses. Please be kind to yourselves and know that your illness does not define who you are or what kind of parent you’ll be to your children. You are strong, capable and wonderful. xoxo