This is the beginning of a new series for Hope at Home this fall. There are a few families who have given me permission to share bits & pieces of their story of parenting through sickness, as both the sick parent & the caregiver in upcoming posts on this topic. As I speak with IOH families through the year & during retreats the common theme that emerges is that the parents long to be well enough to care for their kids in simple practical ways as they used to & enjoy daily life together; such as baseball games, dance practices, and making their lunches for school.
Some moms & dads go through various seasons in remission or treatment where this is more possible than other times. It is a rollercoaster of emotions in the ups & downs. In this series we will begin to unpack some of those emotions that arise when sickness prevents one from parenting the way we may desire & provide some tools to cope with these frustrations, for both you, your family members, & your children.
A few months ago my teeth were flaring up resulting from an infected wisdom tooth I had been putting off dealing with for the past few years. My youngest was 5 months old & had never taken a bottle so this was of course my biggest concern about going under & being on medication after the surgery. I wanted to be able to provide for my baby girl as normal. But I didn’t have a choice anymore. It was time for my four impacted teeth to go!
So I got my husband all set up with all he needed to care for the kids for the next few days while I would be under the weather & off I went. The surgery went great, I was in pain, but it was doable. Mid week after being on an antiobiotic for the infection I had a penicillin reaction for the first time in my life… swollen tongue, itchy all over, welts, dizzy, classic signs of an allergic reaction. Now I was not prepared for this. I thought it would be a straightforward surgery, take a few days to heal, then I would be back in the saddle. Then once I stopped the antibiotic I experienced post-amnesia issues of some sort or some type of brain fog for another week. I simply did not feel like myself. Again, did not expect that complication. I was afraid to be alone with my three kids at home. I did not feel like I could care for them by myself just yet. I even wondered if I would ever feel like myself again. It was pretty scary. However, this only lasted for a month or so…
I think of the IOH families I have been blessed to meet over the past few years & of some dear friends who have battled cancer while having young children & you are all my heroes. Some of you have been battling sickness for months or even years. I got a very small taste of what it felt like to be unable to solely care for my kids this summer when I had my wisdom teeth out & that pales in comparison to what many of you have gone through or are currently living out day-to-day. Some of the emotions I felt were: helpless, frustrated, sad, & most of all like I was missing out & that my kids were missing out on having their mama parent them the way they were used to. Something I did realize was that kids are resilient. Even though I was not able to do what I normally do to take care of them… they were okay. Yes, more fussy than usual being out of our routine. Yes, pushing our buttons to test & see if their new normal was still safe. Yes, they were more clingy than normal seeing mommy laying in bed so much. But, they were okay!
Sometimes I have to remind myself that they are not mine to hold too tightly to. That causes a deep ache in my soul. There is something about a mother & father’s heart that longs to take care of our precious babies. I think its a God-given desire, that deep painful love. I felt that painful love, as I called it, for the first time the day we got home from the hospital with our oldest son. I asked my husband why it hurt so bad to love him. He reminded me then as he has to often that loving means risking. It means that even when life is out of our control… our health in particular, that our Creator holds us & our little ones in His hands. He loves them far greater than we are ever capable of. He has a plan with their best interest in mind.
Here is a beautiful depiction of just that through a video made of Amy Patwa, a fellow IoH mom who passed away earlier this year, soaking up every moment she had with her daughter Charis. They attended the Disney Retreat last year & made lasting memories with her husband, Adam. click here: http://vimeo.com/44496520
stay tuned for part 2 coming up on Parenting Through Sickness.