It’s that time of year when the reality of the new school year starts to sinks in, followed closely by Mommy Guilt. For me, that means continuing to homeschool my 17 year old with learning disabilities and getting my 15 year old son with Down Syndrome to his new charter school that’s about 22 miles away because the local high school is not the best environment for his growth and maturity. And then there’s the never ending doctor appointments and wondering if we should attempt any extracurricular activities. And when do I fit in time for the gym and yoga?
Then the mommy guilt starts to settle in. It’s hard for me to watch the families around me who are able to participate or at least just get their kids to the plethora of supplemental activities in our area.
It’s harder still to watch the happy pictures on my social media feed of happy families who simply get to do life without lots of forethought. Just like I used do to before cervical dystonia entered my life as a very unwanted houseguest in 2010.
In our family we have been blessed that as a retiree with a pension, my husband has been able to take over much of the care for our son and get him where he needs to be. My cervical dystonia diagnosis has also meant getting off the long wait for social services in Florida to gett much needed assistance, and I’m profoundly grateful for that. God has shown his provision for our family, without a doubt.
The anxiety begins as I consider the school year calendar. I really need to get in the pool 2 or 3 times a week. How do I manage that at the end of the day when I’m typically exhausted and out of spoons? And what about church and small group activities…you have to show up to feel part of but how does that work when you’re constantly leveled with fatigue? How about a recovery meeting once in awhile? Many of my friends live in my computer now. I know that’s not the best thing but am not sure what the alternative is in this season of my life.
Right now I don’t know how it’s all going to come together. It is labor intensive for the rest of my family. I’m working on better time management practices and organization. I have to plan around the reality that some days my muscles are going to be spasming so much I don’t want to get out of bed, much less leave the house. I can drive locally but get really nervous on the interstate at rush hour.
Some Tips for Coping with Mommy Guilt and Chronic Pain
Spiritual Disciplines – My journey with chronic pain has really developed my interest in prayer, meditation and the spiritual disciplines. Years ago in recovery rooms I learned that we only have a daily reprieve from our disease based on our spiritual condition. Taking that daily time with God helps the day to flow better, and I’m learning to continuously work on practicing the presence of God and developing a habit of unceasing prayer.
Self care – As moms, we tend to put ourselves last. I did it for years. But when chronic pain or illness is a part of our lives, we have to make that time for our own wellness a priority. It isn’t selfish. Simplify your life as much as you can to minimize stress. Use your crockpot to save spoons at the end of the day. Have your kids help clean the house. If you need a pajama day, it’s perfectly okay. Take full advantage of the convenience of online shopping.
Find what you love and just do it – I blog because I like it. Writing is a great release for me and I’ve loved learning all the technical ins and outs of blogging. It’s empowering to know that my brain still works. I also love yoga. When I could do little else besides lay on the couch and read, yoga gave me my physical life back and something to strive for. For you it might be quilting, crocheting or gentle gardening. Whatever it is for you, it’s a great mental distraction from the dailiness of chronic pain.
Communication – Talk with your family about your condition and how it impacts you without making them feel guilty or overwhelming them. You’ll have children who are more sensitive and patient. That being said, it is hard to watch them sacrifice over and over again.
Let go of Mommy Guilt – You’re a good mom (preaching to myself here.) You are enough. Do the best you can. Embrace life’s little moments as they come to you no matter where you are. Whether you’re on the couch or out and about, your children love you no matter what and appreciate what you do for them.
How do you find balance as a mom and a chronic pain patient?