Posted in Motherhood

Chronic pain interferes with kind of parent I want to be

The rainy weather hasn’t been pleasant to my joints, muscles, neck and pain. If you have sun where you live, can you please send some my way? The RA is flaring, the fibromyalgia is flaring and so are the herniated discs. For the past two weeks, that has been norm for me.  I have been dragging my right leg around.  The pain is not all RA, however. The herniated disc in my lower back is flaring and the pain is radiating into my right leg, starting at the hip and going down.  It gets worse if I pick up anything heavy and that includes my three year old.  He was upset that I said I couldn’t carry him and told me, “Mom, I am not heavy.”   Before anyone starts, “Yes, three year olds walk but they also get tired.”  It has been quite some time since I have really carried him but there are times where I have to like to put him in the shopping cart seat. 

I wish I could just blame everything on RA but I can’t.  The neck and back is from that auto accident back in May.  The muscle pain is from the fibromyalgia and the joint pain from the RA.   In addition to the joint pain, I am stiff and every joint in my body is stiff and I am extremely tired no matter how much rest I have gotten.  I am dealing with multiple flare ups and it is not fun or pretty.  It is a fact of life for me and sadly, my kids as well.  I am not the only one that lives with the effects of my chronic pain they do too. Sometimes, I ask myself if my kids are missing out on anything. Are they? 

I know one thing for sure.  If I was diagnosed with RA before I got pregnant with my now three year old, he wouldn’t be here.  I am sometimes sad that my diagnosis took so long but I am also grateful at the same time. While I want more kids, my RA treatment stands in my way as does the flare-up that would follow after giving birth.  I went through that three years ago and while I am grateful to have my wonderful son, I don’t want to go through that again.  It was a sad and dark period in my life.  I was trying to be a mother and RA was stopping me.  I thank God everyday that my sister was there because I am not sure how I would have gotten through those first few months. 

I read once that parenting involves a lot of juggling but parenting with chronic pain is like juggling with one hand.  You try to juggle with the one hand but you can’t and you feel guilty that you can’t especially when comes to the physical activities.  There is so much that I think I “should” do and I can’t but at the same time I know that I am doing the best that can. One of the things I hate the most is my kids watching me struggle but sometimes it is out of my control like, for example, asking my 11 year to put his brother in the shopping cart because I just can’t do it. Sometimes, I feel ashamed that I am not as strong as other mothers and other times, I am glad that my children know empathy, kindness and support.  Even my three year old knows this.  He often asks how he can help and when he sees me struggling, he asks if I am okay.

Chronic pain interferes with kind of parent I want to be.  I think that is the hard part.  While I am a parent to my children to the best of my ability, I am not the parent I want to be.  In that sense, chronic pain limits me.  My kids don’t notice it because while I am not able to be as physically active as I used to be, I still manage to make time for them.  So, if anyone feels this guilt, it is me alone.


11 thoughts on “Chronic pain interferes with kind of parent I want to be

  1. Lana, when I first got RA my youngest son was 6 and so I felt that he had lost the mom I had been to my older sons who enjoyed a mom who could run with them, play touch football with them, tennis, etc. I was devastated when he brought me home a mothers day card that indicated he would get me a wheelchair to make my life easier…..that son went on to major in pre-med, volunteer hours and hours to our local hospital and is the most compassionate caring person I know. He may have missed out on some things but he gained in many others. It all about the way you spend time together. I was honest with him about my limitations but generous with my time and love. It worked. Just love your child with all your heart and soul and time and he will be fine! Nan

    1. Thank you Nan for visiting and for your very kind words! Yes, our children grow up to learn empathy in the most beautiful and kind way. Thank you for allowing me to see the postive in this.

  2. Your child will learn lessons that no others ever can: compassion, caring, kindness and indepedance. No, it is not easy mothering with these illnesses but he will not only survive but most likely become a better human being as well. Try not to beat yourself up over this. My youngest was just 7 when I got my diagnoses and we all survived and grew stronger together.

    1. Deb, my kids are more independent than their peers and while I am grateful, it also makes me sad. I guess that is what being a mother is about – letting them become independent even when it hurts to watch it happen.

  3. Lana, you are doing a great job. My 13 year old daughter told me the other day, out of the blue that she really admires my 71 year old mom. She has fibro, yet she does so many things. Our kids see beyond what we think they see and perhaps your kids are seeing other gifts you have to share that you are not even aware of.

    1. Cathy,
      Thank you for this positive note. You are absolutely correct about what our children see. While living with two chronic diseases saddens me, it has given my children lessons that they would not have learned had RA and Fibro not come in our lives. They are kind, warm, loving, and empathic and far above their peers in this area.

  4. Lana, we need rain badly here … please send some our way. My hats off to you and all of the other mothers out there living with any type of chronic condition. I honestly don’t know how you do it day in and day out. While I had a large hand in raising our daughter, she was nearly 14 when I was diagnosed. Don’t ever feel guilty for having to live with two chronic diseases. You may not have the physical strength or stamina of a healthy mother but is that all there is to parenting? The fact that your three year old realizes you’re struggling and asks if he can help speaks volumes for what he has already learned. There are young adults that are so self centered that they wouldn’t offer to lend a hand or support to anyone. You are a much better parent than you are giving yourself credit for.

  5. Terry,

    You can have the rain! It has actually warmed up the past few days. It was high 70s this weekend and my pain and flareups have calmed down a bit. Thanks for those kinds words. All of these kinds words from you and the others have reminded me how much stronger I am than many mothers. Not necessarily phsyically, but mentally and emotionally. Most people don’t know how much pain I am because I take on so much. They don’t realize that somedays I can barely climb a flight of steps.

  6. Lana, I relate to the issue you raise in your post. The effects of RA disease and RA medications prevent me from living the way I want. It is a continual process for me to keep positive and look for the blessings while living with chronic pain, debilitation and complications. The experience of chronic illness has taught me a lot about myself, life and my relationship to this world. I’m still learning everyday and while sometimes it can bring me down, I look forward to all the learning I have yet to do. I believe that there is some good that always has to come from bad situations. Thanks for sharing this post, Lana.

  7. I can totally relate to your whole post! In fact, I would like to have another baby someday but my husband puts his foot down and says my body seems to fall apart worse after every child I have and he will not watch it happen again. *sigh* You’re a great example of persevering through pain though! Thanks for your thoughts!

  8. I just came upon this post and had to commiserate, wish I could be the mom, friend and spouse I want to be everyday – chronic pain be damned. Hope you are feeling well.

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