Letting Go Of The Lie That Is Mom Guilt While Living With A Chronic Illness
Living with ankylosing spondylitis is hard, but doing it with kids adds a whole other dynamic to it. I can't tell you how many DM’s I have received from people in the community saying how they don't know "how I do this with kids" or "how strong I must be." I've even had them go so far as to say they admire me! The funny thing is, I've never viewed myself as "strong" or "brave" or any of these words people use to describe me. As a matter of fact, I’d say I was more the opposite. Let’s face it though, parenting is no easy feat. Doing it with AS, well, it’s got its challenges.
Let me start by saying I LOVE being a mom. Heck, if I could have a house full I absolutely would! I can't imagine a life not being a mom and I am so grateful for the opportunity to be somebody's mom! If I’m being totally honest here though, there are days when I physically can't find it in myself to be the mom I want to be and I've really struggled with that.
Enter “mom guilt”
Other than the obvious, there are two things that I've had a really hard time overcoming. The first is the difficulty of the small day to day tasks. Getting my boys up and fed, showered, dressed, and off to school...these are the things that wear me down before the day has even started. The second is the insane amount of “mom guilt” I feel on my worst days. THIS is the one that has really taken its toll on me.
What do they think of me?
As if being in chronic pain isn't bad enough, I find myself consumed with worry over what my children must think of me and how they must compare me to other moms. I remember days in the beginning when my 7-year-old would come around the corner and peek into my bedroom, and I would just be lying there, in the quiet, unable to move.
I remember the sadness in his eyes, and I remember thinking, "What must they think of me? How must they feel? What is going through their heads?" I'm an enneagram 6, so if you know, you know. If one thing was for sure, it was that I had to put an end to this toxic way of thinking.
Let it go
It took a lot of time, a lot of tears, and a lot of conversations with a lot of amazing people to get to the place I'm in now. I had to learn to let go of the guilt and give myself grace. In reality, my children know I didn't choose this, and they definitely don't compare me to other moms (because I'm awesome, HELLO!).
They know I love them more than anything in this world, and I would do anything for their happiness. I’m doing the best I can, and they see that. And really, what am I actually guilty of? Mom guilt is kind of a lie, you guys. I haven’t wronged or offended my children. So, if you’re reading this and you’re feeling the way I did, STOP. As long as you are doing your best and loving your children, that is all that truly matters.
Other than back pain and fatigue, what is the most common symptom that AS patients experience?