Wednesday, August 17, 2016

Back to School

It’s that time of year when parents start to prepare their children for school and another academic year. For parents the school year marks our calendars and tends to define how we see the year. As a parent of three I remember well the preparation involved in making sure summer reading is done, sneakers fit, and school supplies are purchased for that all important first day. My children are all older now but I still have one who just left for college and preseason training. I do very little to prepare him but I still mark the calendar with important dates as he’s an athlete and I still enjoy going to his games and cheering him on.

The preparation and support involved in being a parent can be taxing but even more so when one is chronically ill. Many seemingly small events can take on a life of their own when living with chronic pain and mobility issues. Attending an open house or a sporting event can be daunting tasks for someone like me. I know because I’ve been dealing with this for close to a decade. As a chronically ill parent one begins to worry; how will I be able to support my child(ren)? I was reminded of this recently when I was contacted by a floxed friend who was worried about their role as parent and whether or not they’d be able to raise their children and participate in their lives.

My answer is an emphatic yes you can do this! Perhaps not the same way you’d been doing it before. I definitely had to adapt to my limitations and my children did too. That being said I still attended all their games sometimes having other parents help me. I was still there for my kids to talk to, to remind them of the importance of their education, to hug them and celebrate their achievements, and most importantly to be a parent when they needed one.

All of our roles in the family have changed. My children had to become more responsible and help out around the house more. My husband had to attend the open houses at school when the walking became too much for me. But what they needed the most; the love and affection of a parent I am still able to give to them. Remember THE most important thing is that you’re still here for them. Your kids need you. You don’t have to be strong they just need you to be present. They need to hear that you love them.

We teach by example. Our children are sponges that soak up everything around them from a very early age. I do my best to remain positive and keep fighting to regain my health. One of my sons told me that I’m the strongest person he knows. I can barely walk a ¼ mile. I use a walker or a cane and my husband to get around. I’m very weak physically but it’s our emotional outlook that sets the example for our children. Make no mistake they have seen their mother cry and they still admire my strength. Hug your kid(s), tell them that you love them, and show them your strength and determination by fighting to get better.

I had two teenagers and one preteen when I was floxed. Today my children are young adults. Two have graduated college and gone on to pursue their careers and one is still studying for his bachelor’s degree. I’m extremely proud of the young men that they are today and I’m grateful for every day that I can share with them. If you’re worried about your children you are normal. As parents we never stop worrying about our kids. I know my mom still worries about me. (I love you Mom!) I’m grateful that my kids aren’t the ones dealing with FQAD. I’m glad it’s me and not them. We are never too old to learn and floxing has taught me a lot about our current medical system and government. My eyes are wide open now.

So as your children start a new school year remember that you love them and you’re doing the best you can. They will understand your limitations and just be happy that you are here for them. They will learn from the example that you set so forgive yourself for your limitations and be the best parent that you can be.

~ Betsy

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