3 Ways Being the Parent of a Child with a Chronic Illness Has Made Me a Better Parent
Day 7 of the #happydiabeticchallenge by @the.insulin.type on Instagram wants us to talk about “the happy side” of Type 1 Diabetes. I am sure the very first thought in many of our minds, including my own, is what could possibly be good about a chronic illness that affects every hour of ours and/or our child’s life. For my 18 month old, Carter, this disease came into his life in infancy, so he will grow up not knowing any different of a lifestyle. Honestly, this is the best thing I could hope for. Carter will never not know what it’s like to be “gadget free” on his body or woken up to drink juice or gel when he’s low. All the parts of Diabetes he has grown up with, so there is nothing to mourn in his life from before diagnosis. In a lot of ways, being diagnosed in infancy is a blessing. We can create his life as normally as possible but with diabetes management incorporated and he will never know anything different. That’s my glass half full thought of the day ;)
For me personally, being a Type One Diabetes Mom has made me a better parent in the past year, in my opinion. While Carter is my third child and I’m certainly not new to motherhood, Carter has made me reevaluate a lot of choices I make with all three of my kids now.
I make better food choices.
It’s easy when you’re a busy mom to choose lots of prepackaged goodies or swing by a fast food joint more often than you’d like to admit. To be entirely honest with myself, I did a lot of that in “the early days” of being a new mom of three. After Carter’s diagnosis, however, I am forced to read labels on literally every single food item I give to my son. This has made me more aware than ever before of the carbohydrate and sugar content in a lot of foods we used to eat quite frequently. For instance, ⅔ a cup of marshmallows that I might have put in a cup of hot chocolate or baked into Rice Krispie Treats contains 24g of sugar! That’s a LOT of sugar! Or the “low sugar, low fat” ice cream cups I love aren’t actually sugar free at ALL and contain 30-45g of carbs (aka, sugar) in just a third of that cup! YIKES! So to make a long story short, I am now much more aware of the snacks and food choices I buy my family because I now have to take a much longer look at the sugar content in them.
I don’t sweat the small stuff.
I feel like it’s so much easier to not “sweat the small stuff” now. I have seen the big picture, I have been in a hospital for over a month without two of my kids and grieved for the life I used to and wanted to live. I literally cannot focus on small things that don’t matter anymore. One of my kids ruined a new pair of shoes? Ok, shoes can be replaced or I can get a new pair from consignment. Kids colored on the walls? Ok, they shouldn’t have done that and they will sure as heck be scrubbing my walls clean with magic eraser, but it will come off. One of the kids is going to be late to school? Meh, life happens, it’s really not the end of the world. Or my favorite, ran late to school just last week and fed all three of my children a breakfast from a gas station because I hadn’t yet gone grocery shopping. They survived, they were fed and quite honestly nobody even cared! There’s so much more to life than stressing over things that just won’t matter at all in the grand scheme of life.
I believe in myself.
Self confident has really never been my thing. I’m always that awkward mom without a ton of “mom friends” at the open houses or school events. I’m always that hot mess girl with her hair in a messy ponytail, yoga pants and sometimes (insert audible gasp here) even crocs on my feet. I never fit in anywhere, it seems, and I never had confidence in my abilities to be a mom or heck, even an adult! After Carter’s diagnosis, however… I’ve got this, man! I know that I can do things because I’ve been to hell and back and know that even when I’ve fallen completely apart, I’ve gotten back up and kept going. I don’t have a choice anymore. Even on the nights where Diabetes interrupts my sleep every 1-3 hours, I don’t get the opportunity to take a nap the next day, so I cram coffee and just keep going. Even at my weakest and most exhausted state of being, I’m still strong because I have to be. And now, because I manage a chronic illness every hour of every day without any breaks, I know just how strong I am and can continue to be.