What It's Like Parenting With Fibro
I am sure every parent out there can agree raising children is one of the most wonderful adventures you will go on, and also the toughest job you will ever have. Add a chronic illness to that and the difficulty increases tenfold. But being a parent and suffering from fibromyalgia can also bring a lot of blessings and joy.
As the mother of a busy, active almost 2-year-old son, I have discovered a few things that make life a little bit easier for us. Of course, this has mostly been through trial and error, but that's what parenting is all about, right?
1. Accept Imperfection
This covers a lot of things. You will not be a perfect parent, you will not have a perfect child. Your house will not be perfect, your outfits and the baby's outfits will not be perfect. What you eat and what you feed your baby will not be perfect.
If you're anything like me, while pregnant you have this image in your mind of exactly what kind of parent you will be and how life will go. But you quickly learn things rarely go the way you think they will. This is especially true when you have a chronic illness that changes from one day to another — even one hour to the next.
There are going to be ups and downs, good days and bad days. Being willing to embrace the craziness while trying your best will help you get through the day without constant disappointment.
And just in case you think all the other moms out there have it all together, they don't. Every single one of us is struggling to do the best we can for our child within our circumstances.
2. On Good Days, Focus on Your Children
There are plenty of days I physically cannot get up and play with my son. So on the days I am feeling better I try to make sure I spend some quality time doing something fun with him, even if it's only for a few minutes at a time.
If it's nice out we go out for a walk or play in the yard. If the weather is not good we stay in and play with toys, we kick or throw a ball around, we dance, we chase each other around the house. We also might go out for a trip to the library.
On days I can't do much I try to make sure to still spend time with him reading or coloring — easy and low key activities I can handle. I will also sometimes sit and throw the ball back and forth with him. It is minimal effort on my part but he has a blast and is still getting out energy, having to be the one to run get the ball whenever one of us drops it.
3. Explain Why You Need to Rest
Children are much smarter than most of us give them credit for. Be up front and explain, depending on their age, why you can't go outside and play or why you aren't able to play as long as they would like.
With my son I simply tell him, "Mom doesn't feel good, I need to sit (or lie) down right now." I explain to him that I would like to play with him, but I need to sit. I then offer to do something with him that can be done on the couch.
I have found most of the time he responds well and is okay with it. It sometimes amazes me at how understanding and compassionate he can be.
But there are times when he gets upset and cries, pulling on my hand trying to get me to come with him. It breaks my heart to say no, but I know if I push myself too hard I will end up even worse and will be unable to care for him.