The past nine months have taught me a lot of things about parenting with a chronic illness. It doesn’t matter if it’s mental or physical – many of the challenges are the same.
I wanted to share some of the most important lessons I have learned for anyone else who was like me - continually beating myself up for falling short of my own expectations.
✨ Sometimes you have to put yourself first.
For me, this has meant taking the time to rest well my husband looks after Amory, spending some evenings in bed instead of eating dinner as a family, and prioritising self-care activities above time with my son. My inner critic tells me I’m selfish but I know that things like daily exercise and meditation are key foundations to healing. It’s okay to sacrifice time with your child if you’re working towards the greater good.
✨ Focus on quality, not quantity.
Some days I get a whole morning with my son, some days all I manage is a bedtime story and a lullaby. Regardless of how much time we spend together, I always try to make sure that my son is my focus – no phones – and I try to prioritise words, gestures, stories and activities that show him mummy loves him, even if she is not always there.
✨ Some days you can’t parent. And that is okay.
Amory is the single biggest trigger of anxiety and agitation for me. I know why – I can’t control him and he is unpredictable. He’s a toddler, that’s exactly how he is supposed to be. But because I am unwell, this is something that makes me anxious and agitated. When I’m in that state, I’m no good to either of us so sometimes I have to tap out and let Nick take over.
✨ Kids are more resilient than we give them credit for.
When I was in hospital, I only managed two visits with Amory and about as many FaceTime calls. I found it too painful to see him. The funny thing was though, he was perfectly fine without me. His behaviour at home didn’t change, he was happy and energetic when we did get to see one another. For the most part, he didn’t even notice I was gone. And when he did, Nick had storybooks to try and find a way to explain to Amory where his mummy was.