I get envious when I see other moms on social media. There are pictures of them with their kids at the zoo, going on nature hikes, having a blast at the local fair, etc.
What did we do this weekend?
I laid on the couch hating my body while my kids ran willy-nilly around the neighborhood. They check in once in a while but to be honest at most times of the day I am not sure exactly what they are doing. I used to be more diligent parent. I never was a helicopter parent but I got close to it at times. These days I am more of a free-range parent.
At some point they come in asking for lunch and I tell them to grab whatever they can make on their own. They heat up some leftovers, make a sandwich, have a bowl of cereal, or make scrambled eggs because at this point in time I cannot even make them lunch due to the vertigo and light-headedness I am experiencing.
See I have a form of dysautonomia. It is a chronic illness that will never go away. What I have is the hyper-adrenergic subtype of POTS. You should see people’s faces when I tell them I have POTS. Don’t worry, I quickly explain that it is not marijuana but that it stands for postural orthostatic tachycardia syndrome. A mouthful to say but basically, my autonomic nervous system doesn’t work right. When I stand up gravity pushes blood down to my feet and my brain freaks out because it is losing blood so it tells my heart to race and releases WAY too much adrenaline. Then my heart rate jumps up 30 or more beats a minute. This reaction causes many symptoms include heart palpitations, shortness of breath, vertigo, dizziness, headaches, chills or sweats, nausea, fatigue, flushed cheeks, dry mouth, and sweaty feet. Needless to say, since getting diagnosed my mom life has changed a lot.
On a good day I can do almost anything a normal person can do . . . except run . . . or climb stairs . . . or go for a walk . . . or stand for a while. But on a bad day, I can hardly do much at all. So, my kids are left pretty much on their own on a bad day. I lay on the couch and watch tv, or nap, or scroll through Facebook. Which is not a good idea.
Inevitably, I will come across someone who is at a festival with their kids, or on a hike through a beautiful state park, or I come across a picture someone posted of their food and it’s organic, vegan, non-GMO, and all made from scratch. More power to you if you can feed your kids like that. That is awesome.
But I can’t. And sometimes I feel really guilty about that. And then the envious thoughts start running through my head.
Other moms have it together so much more than I do.
Other moms get to cook wonderful meals and not feel like they were hit by a bus afterwards.
Other moms get to do all these fun things with their kids.
Other moms have it so much better . . .
But then my youngest son crawls up next to me on the couch. He tells me he hopes I feel better as he gives me a hug. After a few minutes of snuggles and chatting about his day he decides to run off to see if another one of his friends can play. Later on, my daughter sits down next to me, begging for back scratches, and talks with me about her day. And even later on that evening, my teenage son actually lays down next to me and talks with me about his day while I run my hands through his curly hair. And the whole time I am talking and snuggling with my kids I pray for them which is one of the best things I can do for them.
So maybe my mom life looks a little different. But maybe that is ok.
After all, my kids know I am always around and available to talk. I may not be able to do a lot physically with them but I can be there for them emotionally and spiritually.
Our easy-going schedule that I am forced to keep due to my limitations also allows my kids to be less stressed and care free. Our weekends are not filled with planned activities but rather they are filled with endless opportunities for my kids to be creative and use their imaginations. My kids spend most of their days playing with friends outside in the fresh air. If I look outside, the street is full of kids playing basketball, football, and riding bikes and scooters. And I smile because it is great that my kids get to enjoy that.
I also realize that my kids are developing a greater sense of compassion and have a better understanding for others because they know that you can’t always SEE what someone else is going through.
So maybe I don’t cook gourmet meals, and I can’t go on long hikes or walk around the zoo or museum. But my kids are alive, fed, know that they are deeply loved and prayed over, and they also know that I am always here for them.
Day after day, I am raising my kids while being chronically ill. It’s a fact of life I have to deal with. It’s not the path I would have chosen but I am determined to bloom where I have been planted. It may be unconventional but it is do-able.
And I can do it better and better, day by day, if I learn to let go of what I CAN’T do, and embrace what I CAN.
And that is the lesson I think we all need to learn. Our mom lives are going to look different. Some of us have chronic illnesses, some of us have blended families, some of us are taking care of aging parents and children, or are raising kids with disabilities. We are all on different journeys. The truth that I am learning is that we need to stop comparing ourselves to other moms and simply embrace the mom life we are living.