Important Values My Kids Have Learned from Having a Chronically Ill Mom

Share
Parents with a chronic illness often feel more guilt because of their illness, but these parents will also get to witness the good lessons that are learned from challenging experiences. (Shutterstock)

Health and wellness touch each of us differently. This is one person’s story.

I’d just settled into a bath, filled with steaming water and six cups of Epsom salts, hoping the combination would allow some of the pain in my joints to ease and calm my spasming muscles.Then I heard banging in the kitchen. I wanted to cry. What on earth was my child getting into now? As a single parent with a chronic illness, I was absolutely exhausted. My body ached and my head throbbed. As I heard drawers open and close in my bedroom I sunk my head into the water, listening to my heartbeat echo in my ears. I reminded myself this was my time to take care of me, and it was vitally important I do so.It was okay that my 10-year-old child was alone for those 20 minutes I was soaking in the tub, I told myself. I tried to breathe out some of the guilt I was holding.

Letting Go of the Guilt

Trying to let go of guilt is something I find myself doing quite often as a parent—even more so now that I’m a disabled, chronically ill parent.

I’m definitely not the only one. I’m part of an online support group for parents with chronic illness that’s full of people who question what impact their limitations are having on their children.

We live in a society focused on productivity and a culture that puts such emphasis on all the things we can do for our children. It’s no wonder we question whether or not we’re good enough parents.

There’s a societal pressure for parents to take their tots to “Mommy and Me” gymnastics classes, volunteer in the elementary school classroom, shuttle our teens between multiple clubs and programs, throw Pinterest-perfect birthday parties, and make wholesome well-rounded meals—all while making sure our children don’t have too much screen time.

As I’m sometimes too ill to leave the bed, much less the house, these societal expectations can make me feel like a failure.

However, what I—and countless other parents who are chronically ill—have found is that despite the things we can’t do, there are many values we teach our kids by having a chronic illness.

1. Being Present During Time Together

One of the gifts of chronic illness is the gift of time.

When your body doesn’t have the ability to work full time or engage in the “go-go-go, do-do-do” mentality that’s so common in our society, you’re forced to slow down.

Before I was ill, I worked full time and taught a few nights on top of that and went to grad school full time as well. We often spent our family time doing things like going for hikes, attending community events, and doing other activities out and about in the world.

When I became ill those things came to a halt rather suddenly, and my children (then ages 8 and 9) and I had to come to terms with a new reality.

While I no longer could do a lot of things my kids were used to us doing together, I also suddenly had a lot more time to spend with them.

Life slows down significantly when you’re ill, and my being sick slowed down life for my children, too.

There are a lot of opportunities for snuggles in bed with a movie or lying on the couch listening to my children read me a book. I’m at home and can be present for them when they want to talk or just need an extra hug.

Life, for both me and my children, has become much more focused on the now and enjoying the simple moments.

2. The Importance of Self-Care

My younger child once told me my next tattoo needed to be the words “take care,” so whenever I saw it I’d remember to take care of myself.

Those words are now inked in sweeping cursive on my right arm, and my child was right—it’s a wonderful daily reminder.

Being ill and watching me focus on self-care has helped teach my children the importance of caring for themselves.

My children have learned that sometimes we need to say ‘no’ to things, or step away from activities in order to go take care of our body’s needs.

They’ve learned the importance of eating regularly and eating foods that our bodies respond well to, as well as the significance of getting plenty of rest.

They know not only is it important to care for others, but it’s equally important to care for ourselves.

3. Compassion for Others

The main things my children have learned being raised by a parent with chronic illness are compassion and empathy.

In the chronic illness support groups I’m part of online, this comes up time and time again: the ways our children develop into highly compassionate and caring individuals.

My children understand that sometimes people are in pain or have difficulty with tasks that may come easily to others. They’re quick to offer help to those they see struggling or just listen to friends who are hurting.

They also show this compassion to me, which makes me deeply proud and grateful.

When I crawled out of that bath, I braced myself to be confronted with a huge mess. I wrapped myself in a towel and took a deep breath in preparation. What I found instead brought me to tears.

My child had laid out my favorite “comfies” on the bed and brewed me a cup of tea. I sat on the end of my bed taking it all in.

The pain was still there, as was the exhaustion. But as my child walked in and gave me a big hug, the guilt wasn’t.

Instead, there was just love for my beautiful family and gratitude for all the things that living in this chronically ill and disabled body is teaching me and those I love.

Angie Ebba is a disabled artist who teaches writing workshops and performs nationwide. Angie believes in the power of art, writing, and performance to help us gain a better understanding of ourselves, build community, and make change. This article was published on Healthline.

Share
Categories: Entertainment Lifestyle

Video Popular

  • Celebrating Arbor Day With Books

    Celebrating Arbor Day With Books

    Trees were once considered sacred and awe-inspiring: Oaks were worshiped by the European Druids, redwoods were a part of American Indian ritual, and baobabs a part of African tribal life. Ancient Chin ...

  • Sharks Eat Their Greens, Too—First Omnivorous Species Confirmed

    Sharks Eat Their Greens, Too—First Omnivorous Species Confirmed

    Not all sharks feed only on meat—at least one shark species also feeds on seagrass. Scientists have confirmed that one of the most common sharks in the world is an omnivore. The bonnethead shark, a re ...

  • Microsoft Flags Dangers to EU of Plans to Limit Data Use

    Microsoft Flags Dangers to EU of Plans to Limit Data Use

    Microsoft said on Sept. 5, that EU lawmakers’ copyright reforms limiting the use of potentially valuable data to non-profit bodies could damage the European Union’s digital development. Co ...

  • How Setting a Schedule Can Make You Less Productive

    How Setting a Schedule Can Make You Less Productive

    It can seem like there’s never enough time—not enough for sleep and not enough for play, not enough for cooking. and not enough for exercise. There’s a relatively new term to describe this feeling: ti ...

  • RiNo, Denver: America’s Best Place for a Bar Crawl?

    RiNo, Denver: America’s Best Place for a Bar Crawl?

    “RiNo reminds me of Williamsburg in 2004—just pretentious enough to be good, not yet pretentious enough to be annoying.” Kevin Burke is joking, of course. As the general manager of American Bonded—one ...

  • Respecting Teachers and Cherishing Virtue

    Respecting Teachers and Cherishing Virtue

    Respecting teachers and cherishing virtues are part of the traditional ethics practiced by the Chinese people. Teachers, who impart morality, knowledge, and values, teach people the proper ways to int ...

  • Home Ownership in Canada Declines, Reversing Long Upward Trend

    Home Ownership in Canada Declines, Reversing Long Upward Trend

    Home ownership in Canada fell for the first time in over 45 years, according to a Point2Homes study released this week. It had reached a record high of 69 percent in 2011, but as of 2016, it fell to 6 ...

  • Aretha Franklin Dresses, Hats to Go up for Auction

    Aretha Franklin Dresses, Hats to Go up for Auction

    NEW YORK—More than 30 dresses and accessories worn on stage by Aretha Franklin are going up for auction. The Queen of Soul died at age 76 in Detroit on Aug. 16. Julien’s Auctions says the items ...

  • 87 Elephants Found Slaughtered in Botswana, Africa

    87 Elephants Found Slaughtered in Botswana, Africa

    An alarming number of elephant carcasses have been discovered in aerial surveys across Botswana in what has been described as a “poaching frenzy.” Botswana was once known as a sanctuary fo ...

  • Yes, Marijuana Can Be Addictive

    Yes, Marijuana Can Be Addictive

    The business world is salivating at the potential $22.6 billion recreational marijuana market in Canada, with more new pot users expected after legalization on Oct. 17. But public-health officials wan ...

  • Google Races to Parry the Rise of Facebook in India

    Google Races to Parry the Rise of Facebook in India

    Google retains only a slight lead over Facebook in the competition for digital ad dollars in the crucial India market, sources familiar with the figures say, even though the search giant has been in t ...

  • Canada in Brief, Sept. 6-12

    Canada in Brief, Sept. 6-12

    Trudeau says he won’t use ‘tricks’ to ram through pipeline construction Prime Minister Justin Trudeau is pouring cold water on Alberta’s suggestion that the federal government use legislation or a cou ...