In North America, Mothers Day is this weekend. I wanted to spend some time reflecting on life as a mother of a child with diabetes.
I have seen that JDRF Canada is doing promotion this week on #Type1derWoman This looks really fun and I can’t wait to see more.
A few years ago, the DRI did a segment on the Real Moms of Diabetes. A few of my friends took part. It was equally as moving.
And of course there is the incredible poem written by my dear friend Linda Kaniasty that mothers in the UK put to video. It still makes me cry.
All of these posts have me thinking about life as a D-momma. My role has changed a lot over the past 16 years.
I started out as the mother of a toddler with diabetes. I was lucky. He didn’t mind the shots. He was okay with finger pokes. He hated to eat however. That was a challenge.
If I had it to do all over again…and it was 2016 and not 2000, well I would be putting him on a pump right away. There is no need to fuss with injections, a pump would give us the flexibility to let him eat the way he wanted. I would have a CGM so that when he fell asleep, I would know if he was just napping versus having a low and couldn’t tell me.
I would still use bribery. Stickers and rewards were a fabulous way to get through everything from potty training to meal fights. I would still allow him to inject and have control of the diabetes care for his toys. This was a great way to give him power. I would still worry and log like crazy but that is me.
Eventually my toddler grew and went to school. The worry again was tangible. I had friends who would be watching out for him in school but I was terrified. There was so much that could go wrong.
If I had to do it again, I would have released the terror. He was left in the care of teachers who truly cared about their students. He had friends who cared about him. They all would do their very best…or call me if in doubt. I didn’t need to hover. I didn’t need to stress–as much. It was okay. Yes, there would be wrinkles along the way but they were small. He would survive. We would all learn. It is important to relax a little during these years as greater challenges will come.
As my child became a preteen, the issues again changed. We struggled to find a balance between what he should be expected to do and what I should be expected to do. I ached that he was expected to do so much. I grew frustrated when one of us failed. If I had to give myself advice for that time looking back it would be that it will be okay. You will find your way. If he didn’t die, learn from it…both of you. Work hard. He is listening in his own way. It will be worth it. He can stumble a bit. Its okay to wipe his knees but he will get it.
When my son became a teen…well didn’t that change everything! There were now hormones. There was the teen brain. There were struggles. There were worries. How do you balance allowing him to be a normal teen (with all of the worries that comes with that stage) and being a teen with diabetes? You ask for help. You reach out to those who have been there…and you pray.
As a teen, my son decided that he knew it all. He decided that he really didn’t need the care of Mom anymore. He moved away and decided to finish high school while living with his father. I foresaw many problems. Some of them came to pass…some didn’t. I felt like a failure. I was a parent whose child didn’t want to live with them. People reminded me that it wasn’t about me, this was about him. It still hurt. My one clearly defined role now became more blurry than ever.
My son is now a young adult. He is 18 and learning to live with the choices that he has made. He has stumbled. He has tripped a few times but he has done okay. He is getting stronger in more ways than one. He understands his body he tells me. He is tightening his control. He has learned. He knows he can still come to me when he loses his way.
So what would I tell that Mom of a toddler now? You’ve got this.
What would I tell that mom who is watching her son head off to school? The school and his peers have your back.
What would I tell that mom of a teen? He really did listen and learn when you were sure he wasn’t. Somehow you will both live to go through another stage of parenthood. Some days will hurt but most days will be a blessing because when you look back at where you have been, where things could have gone? Life is amazing!
There are still challenges. We still have a long road ahead of us. No matter how old my children are, I am still their mother. They are still my children. I worry. I care. I love them deeper than I could have ever imagined. They make me shake my head at times but they also make me proud.
For all of you fellow D-mommas, take a moment and be proud. Be proud of YOU and all that you have accomplished when faced with this huge burden. YOU are amazing!
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