Mommy hurts again, baby…

Or, parenting with chronic illness is hard but can be amazing

There are certain emotions that we have in common with other humans simply because we all have stomped dirt on the same planet. We all know what it’s like to experience loss or disappointment to a certain degree. We’ve been frustrated at work or irritated with a neighbor. Emotions become a shared experience between friends as well as strangers.

We can connect over them without having the exact same experiences in our lives. You just get it.

Parenting is typically one of those areas. We all know what it is like to worry over a sick child or clean puke out of the carpet. We’ve cried, yelled, and cheered our way through homework, time-outs, and baseball games.

There’s always some kind of common ground where we can bond. Except with this.

If you are parenting with chronic or mental illness, only other parents in the #spoonie world get it. Someone who hasn’t lived it just doesn’t. Because of this, you can’t use their lives as a comparison to yours.

You need to turn to the chronic illness community.

Parenting through chronic illness is hard.

Our emotions can vary day to day, hour to hour. We can swing from having guilt over the things that we want to do and can’t, to feeling anger over the things that we are missing — or that we think our children are missing because of us.

Guilt because we didn’t. Anger because we can’t. Or vice versa.

We go through times of self-loathing and depression because we aren’t good enough. We wonder if we will ever be good parents. Or if we shouldn’t have been parents at all. We start believing the lies.

These are the worries that haunt us during our days and in our sleep.

Turn to others who get it.

We tell newly diagnosed people to reach out to others through social media and support groups. We read books, chat online, join Facebook groups all to find someone else who understands.

Why don’t we do that with parenting? It’s time to start.

Let me be the first to support you.

You didn’t cause this.

For whatever reason, genetic or otherwise, your body has struggles and conditions that keep us from optimal health. Those conditions change how we live, but that’s okay.

Just like we can’t change it, we couldn’t inflict it upon ourselves. Just like I tell my kids, blame yourself for what you did, not what you didn’t do. You didn’t elect to struggle with fatigue or pain, seizures or attacks.

Here’s the addendum: I’m not referring to bad life choices that have negative consequences. Some choices leave us with scars. In those cases, you correct the behavior, seek the help you need, and move forward. But unless this is you, it’s time to get over it and see yourself as what you are — not what you aren’t.

You are worthy.

Whether you attribute it to your faith (that God picked you to parent your child) or to fate (you were just meant to have these kids), your children have you — and you are enough.

Every parent has struggles. We are no different. Our struggles just present in a different capacity so it becomes easy for us to blame ourselves. But here’s the thing: You didn’t choose this so stop feeling like it’s your fault.

You have the same ability to be a fabulous parent as anyone else. Love yourself and move on. Stop wasting your time blaming yourself. You can spend that energy with your kids instead.

Believe it or not, but your illness can make you a better parent.

Our children will deal with frustration, disappointment, anger, and depression during their lifetime no matter how much we tell ourselves that their lives will be perfect. It just happens.

Having these experiences with chronic illness will give us a unique perspective to share with our children. We have real-life applications to point to when we talk about these feelings. We’ve lived it! This lends truth and validity to our stories. It makes you real.

And that makes you a better parent in any situation.

Share your experiences of parenting with chronic illness with me in the comments below or tweet me about your experience. I want to support you.

Stephanie Pitcher Fishman is a writer, blogger, and mom living with chronic illness, a mid-life baby, and a coffee addiction. She writes about fake people (fiction), dead people (family history and genealogy), and sick people (herself included.) Read more at and say hi on Twitter.

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