Mommy's Worst Nightmare!

Living with a chronic illness and managing one's own life can be an enormous challenge. A person may have to make accommodations and adjustments to their daily routine, including things like meals, physical activity, work, and social events. This can often feel frustrating and challenging. However, many mothers who live with chronic illness much rather prefer that to what it feels like having to manage their illness while also being a parent.

Being a mother who lives with chronic illness is an experience that can come with many challenges. It can be an extremely physically demanding situation, particularly when one is the parent of a very young child or toddler, or an infant who does not sleep throughout the night. This can make it most difficult for some mothers who live with chronic illness to provide themselves with the rest and care required to manage their condition. Additionally, some mothers living with chronic illness may experience painful emotions, such as guilt for not being able to engage in as much physical play with her child as she would have if not for her illness. Some mothers may feel a sense of loss for not being able to run around the playground with her child like "the others moms in the playground". At times, some mothers living with chronic illness may feel saddened by the fact that they may need significant rest, or have multiple doctor appointments, or therapies that take time away from being with their children.

The experiences described can feel like a mother's worst nightmare. However, despite these challenges, being a mother when living with a chronic condition can be a strength for both the parent and child. Some mothers do their best to care for themselves and strive to keep life going because of their child or children. It is their child that gives them strength that they perhaps did not have before. Similarly, this experience if handled carefully does not have to be all bad for the child either. For example, physical play is not the only meaningful way for a mother and child to spend time together. So perhaps you can't run, but you can read books together, and play with puppets, or maybe sing a song. A mom may really appreciate the time she does have to spend with her child so much more after living with illness because of all the time missed while at doctor appointments. This reality can make the time she has together with her child that much more meaningful. She may really be engaged with her child in a very profound and intimate way.

It can be a challenge to not see the experience of being a mother while living with illness as all bad. And regardless of the positives that you may discover in your relationship with your child while living with illness, you may still experience many painful emotions and feelings of loss. Both are there... the negative and the positive, and pushing away the difficult emotions does not help either. There must be space for both: the recognition and acknowledgment of pain, but also an openness and curiosity to something meaningful and good.

If you are struggling to find this balance, you may want to join a support group for parents who live with chronic illness or reach out to a mental health professional. Sometimes coming to a place where there can be space for both the positive and the negative that come from the experience of being a mother living with illness can be challenging. You do not have to be alone.