It is my privilege to introduce y’all to my first guest blogger on this here shiny, new blog. Her name is Tia from Becomin Neurotic and she is a lovely creature of awesomeness. She is kind, generous of spirit and is a constant source of encouragement and positivity. She also has RA. She hangs out in the ish with us and agreed to make herself vulnerable here in front of all the gods and all of you. Which takes major cojones and a wealth of strength. Lucky for us this wonderishmama is fully stocked with both. Welcome to her ish.
When Joules asked me to share some of what it’s like to parent with chronic illness, I agreed, even while I was unsure. But I believe in writing honestly, so here I am to share what it’s like to be a mom who’s sick.
I am a firm believer that everything in life happens for a reason. Sometimes we can’t always see that reason, but it’s there. So when, following our divorce, my ex-husband moved 2000 miles away with our toddler son, I was heartbroken. I couldn’t see any rhyme or reason then, and struggled with the separation for a very long time. (For the record, there is a custody agreement, he didn’t kidnap him or anything like that.)
Then three years ago I was diagnosed with severe sudden onset Rheumatoid Arthritis. For the first six months, I was on steroids while we fought to reduce the pain and swelling that had overtaken many of the joints in my body. My hands were near useless and my feet could barely carry me to the bathroom and back. My days became full of pain, fatigue, doctor’s appointments, and many different medications.
I could barely care for myself, let alone anyone else.
And I saw some reasoning.
As much as it hurts my heart to not have my son here, as much as it sucks to miss out on SO DAMN MUCH of his life, I would absolutely hate for him to see me like this.
While we now have a better handle on things, it is a progressive disease. I still flare 1-2 weeks a month, and I am on intensive immunity suppressing medications. There is no “get better.” There is no cure.
As a mom, would you spare your children all the ugliness there is in this life, if you could?
And so, even though my son is now a teenager, and could actually choose where he wants to live, I’m happy he is with his dad.
He spends his summers here visiting us, and my fiance and I do all we can to minimize my disease. I don’t believe in lying to my son, so he does know I am sick. But we try to hide as much as we can. I do not want to be the reason my son lies awake at night. I do not want him to worry about death or disease. I want to shield him as much as I can, for as long as I can.
One day he will be an adult, and he’ll know the whole truth. I want him to look back and treasure the memories we made, without ever thinking his mom was too sick. I want to show him all the beauty and love there is in the world, without showing him the reality of living with a chronic illness. And yes, selfishly, I want him to look back and see me as strong, instead of how incredibly weak I feel.
When I held his tiny little body within my own, I promised him I would always keep him safe. It’s there from the very first flutter of baby kicks, or the barest hint of a heartbeat other than your own. We mothers hold our hands over our growing bellies and pledge to protect this new life to the death.
And so I will protect him and keep him safe, even if the thing I’m protecting him from is me. I will do everything in my power to make sure he gets to be a kid for as long as possible. I will sacrifice much if it means he gets to live a life full of love, light, and happiness; a life free of worry and heartbreak. I will show him beauty so that he can always carry it with him, even after he must face the harsh realities in life.
Wouldn’t you do the same?