On Being a Mother

As it is Mother’s Day, I’m taking a moment to reflect and share my thoughts, about being a mother and about being a mother living with chronic pain and illness.

I believe the majority of mothers are filled with joy the moment they meet their child. No matter the circumstances surrounding them in their life, that moment when you rest your eyes on your child for the very first time is filled with awe and pure joy. The feeling can be recalled easily for me, it is a beautiful moment filled with a swirling rush of emotions . . . the pain has subsided or is numbed, the adrenaline is rushing, you feel a sense of pride and a sense of being a part of the most amazing miracle to ever take place.

When I gazed in each of my children’s eyes for the first time, my thoughts would undoubtedly turn to how I wished to provide them with all that they could need to be a happy and healthy person. My greatest wish for them is to have a sense of peace and contentment in them, knowing their personal value and worth, without any doubt of any kind. And in order to give that to them, it will take a divine intervention, I’m certain.

I think every mom begins optimistically, at least while they are in the hospital, and then once you arrive home with your precious miracle, the questions and doubt might start to set in. How do I know if I fed them enough? Do I let them cry themselves to sleep? Is it okay to let them sleep on their stomache or do I have to put them on their back all the time? All the questions . . . start seeping in a mother’s mind and the worry about “doing it right” begins!

This time is challenging enough, but what happens when a mom begins to suffer from post-partum depression, or what if they have health issues that keeps them for being able to “do it all” for their child? In these situations, the doubt and questions can flood a mother’s heart and mind with a tsunami effect, wrecking all the optimism that may have been there to begin with and taking with it a good chunk of self-esteem and self-worth with it.

After the birth of my first child I experienced post-partum depression. My daughter was such a beautiful and perfect little creation, but my body’s hormones and my brain chemistry just wasn’t feeling it. Instead, there were tears that just kept coming and an overload of anxiety. My baby girl had colic, that began after coming home from the hospital, and she cried for hours on end, seeming to be in excruciating pain with little or no relief no matter what I did. The joy was displaced with self-doubt for so many of our hours together. But, no matter what, there were always peaceful quiet moments in the middle of the night, where she would stare at me, as I cradled her in my arms, and we would speak with our eyes and with our hearts. Her gurgles and coos were music to my ears in these moments, a joy like none other I had ever experienced.

My second pregnancy was a nightmare, but the end result another perfect miracle. My son came into the world bringing with him such a breath of fresh air and relief from an abundance of health problems I endured for 9 months. The little bundle that he was, he had wrapped tightly in his blanket an immeasurable amount of joy, just like his sister. Each their own unique individual, but bringing with them that same rush of emotions and pure raw joy. I don’t think there is any moment I can recall that I hold closer to my heart, than those moments when I first met my children.

My capabilities and limitations as a mother all changed after the birth of my second child and the development of fibromyalgia. I have always had some challenges as I battle with depression and anxiety, but fibromyalgia has given me a whole new lot of limitations as a mother.

I do a lot of parenting from the couch. I would rather be up and participating in activities with the kids. I send my kids off with family for activities and events on days that I am unable to participate due to feeling ill or lack of energy. I would much rather be a part of their experiences and be present to take photos and share the moments with them. . . when they feed the animals at the petting zoo, or find treasures on their nature hikes. I want to see the wonder in their eyes when they see something for the first time and not just get the delayed recap hours later when the newness has worn off. I want so much to be an active participant in their life, not just part of the scenery here at home.

In all honesty, I know I am a part of their care-taking in a multitude of ways, preparing meals, reading to them, making sure they are bathed and presentable for the world; tucking them in bed at night or nap-time, and doing a lot of simple things at home, like watching movies together or playing games with them. But, there seems to be a natural instinct as a mother to want to give them more, more, more! The adventures I would like to take them on, both big and small! The lessons I would like to teach them as we would go out and visit museums and parks.

These things are not out of reach for me, but they are limited to some extent, right now. It is my hope that it won’t be long before my energy level is consistently high enough to do more of these types of things with them and to do them more frequently. I think its coming, as I make changes in my life, as I heal more emotional trauma and work to leave the past behind where it belongs. I continue to strive to be a better mother, each and every day. I want to give them the best of me and for them to be able to look back and know that they were loved abundantly.

I choose to believe that the plans God has for me are for good, and that He also has my childrens lives in His great care. So today, on Mother’s Day, it is a gift to me, to treasure the memories that I have already made with my kids and allow myself to have hope for our future, despite the limitations and challenges I might experience now.

A mother’s happiness is like a beacon, lighting up the future but reflected also on the past in the guise of fond memories.  ~Honoré de Balzac

3 thoughts on “On Being a Mother

  1. I feel the same way about mothering and my chronic illness. Whether it’s due to acute pain or crushing fatigue, there is so much I want to do with my childre that I cannot do, and it kills me.

    I have to try to believe what other women tell me….that they grew up with sick mothers but that they wouldn’t have replaced them for the world. It hurts to mother with the obstacles of pain and weakness. It hurts like no healthy person could conceive of.

    • Dear Allison,
      Ugh, it is a horrible hurt . . . I am sorry for your pain, a bond we share, but wish we didn’t in many ways. When it affects our children, it hurts the most.
      With love,
      Amy

  2. I am not a mom, and I have so much respect for you and every other mother who lives with chronic illness.

    You said two things that stood out to me in this post. First you said you are present for “a lot of simple things at home.” I was raised by a single father who worked 10 to 12 hours a day and came home exhausted! Most of our time spent together was the “simple” times you are referring to and they are all my best memories. I remember how tired he was and I knew it was a struggle for him even to stay awake some evenings to watch T.V. with us. I love him even more because he was with us during these simple times. Your children will too.

    The second thing is that you have HOPE that your energy will improve. I am so happy that you have hope! My hope for you is that you will honor your current limitations and continue to believe that they will improve. As long as you have hope and you continue to move forward, you will be giving yourself and your children the best gift possible.

    I sometimes wonder where I get my fighting spirit from, and then I remember my dad and I know. To hear him tell it he struggled so much raising two young girls on his own. He is much more heroic in my version!

    Happy Mother’s Day Amy!

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