Being a mom is hard. Even if you had all possible advantages you could potentially have – physically, mentally, and financially – it’s still a tough job. Being responsible for the full time care of another life is just a daunting task.
One of my close friends recently became a first time mom. As she navigates the difficulties of motherhood, she started to build empathy for her mother friends. She used to never understand why her friends with kids were not always available or were constantly late to dates. She now seems to understand and started to make comments like: “I don’t know how X does it with 2 kids.” ” I don’t know how Y does it alone, as a single mom.” and “I don’t know how Z does it with a full time job.”
These comments made over several months started to irritate me and it took me some time to realize why. Glaringly missing from her recent revelations was a comment “I don’t know how you do it being sick all the time.” I don’t doubt that these other moms have it hard with their handicaps but being a mom with chronic illnessed adds another element of hardship that is hard to fathom.
I often hear from moms how hard it was to parent when they got sick, as most people do, suffering from a cold or some other common ailments. Usually an email, or a Facebook post lets others know about the fever, aching body, vomiting, fatigue and/or headaches. Luckily for most, they recover within a few days/week and they resume normal life. But imagine, if those hard days of being a mom while being sick never ended? For me, there is no end. There is only worse.
I have to be a mom on days I can’t walk, when I suffer from high fever, when I have pounding headaches, when I am nauseous, when I am vomiting, when my body is aching from pain, and when I am crushed by fatigue. And I don’t recover. There is no getting better and resuming life. My life IS being a mom suffering from a multitude of illness.
The first year of any first time mom is difficult, yes. But I had to go through that first year, raising my son, while being hospitalized, in bed rest and undergoing chemotherapy and fighting for my life. Pregnant with my second after five years of recovery, which just put me out of the life-threatening stage, not the suffering stage, of my illnesses; I am always anxious about what the post-birth days would bring.
So while I don’t undermine any of the hardships other moms go through, it would have been nice if my friend acknowledged how hard it might have been and how hard it is for me still to be a mom with chronic illnesses.