Mental illness, physical illness, and mommy guilt

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I have been walking around with undiagnosed back pain that I believe is a herniated disc, for almost a year now. I think that because of the increasing symptoms of sciatica. Factored in with the pain and fatigue amplification from the fibromyalgia and how that plays into insomnia which feeds both aspects of the cyclothemia (a “mild” form of bi-polar I just recently realized explains so much about my life up to this point). I’m one lump of a hot mess of a momma to little Luna.

I rely too heavily on processed, frozen preformed potatoes & breaded chicken, lunchmeat, and Pizza Hut. I always purchase clementine oranges and 10 – 20 nutrition bars, such as Cliff Bars or Odwalla bars, when I can, so she has some regular access to nutrition. I avoid keeping soda in the home between her dad’s home times (he loves his Dr. Pepper) and use Ovaltine instead of chocolate syrup to make her chocolate milk. I will get blueberries and grapes when I can. She will devour them inside of a couple of days.

The point is, I feel guilt and shame for not providing her the scratch cooked, organic, free-range, antibiotic & nitrate free, certified non-GMO diet that would help me regain health and help prevent her from potentially developing health complications later in life.

I have trouble concentrating and my skin feels hypersensitive and raw much of the time. I am easily agitated and irritable when I don’t want to be. My eyes are sensitive to light and my ears are sensitive to sound. In other words: don’t touch, don’t talk, don’t turn all the lights on, don’t make noise and LEAVE ME ALONE!!!

I do my very best to not act on these feelings and sensations. I use active listening skills often and repeat things she’s said back to her as questions, either getting, “No, I said…” or “Uh huh, that’s right…”

But, then there are my fibrofog induced ADD moments:

Mooom, I’m hungry. Get me something to eat please

“Uh huh, okay, let me finish…”

I then proceed to lose track of what I was doing and who knows how much later I get pounced on by the whiny, frustrated child proclaiming, “MOM! I tooold you get something to eat.”

I worry and fret that I can’t/don’t give her the structure and routine she needs. The foundation for developing good and healthy self-care practices:
• Oral Hygeine – she has cavities from too much sugary, carb heavy food and not enough tooth brushing.
• Sleep Hygeine – no set bedtimes or nap times. Days without naps when she’s not awake until after 9 am after a night she didn’t get to sleep until midnight or later because she fell asleep at 5 pm and woke up at 8 pm the day before.
• Too much television. Today I turned Strawberry Shortcake on at loud volume to wake her up without a fuss and a fight. I just sat her in front of The Swan Princess so I could re-create this post – after losing updated content I’d just spent 45 minutes on while she was watching Beverly Hills Chihuahua II.
• Not enough physical activity. There are weeks when we can go four days without ever opening the front door. She uses the furniture as her gym: she climbs onto the arm of the couch and either uses the back as a balance beam or uses the arm as a diving platform. The bed is her trampoline.
• She still wears Pull-Ups some days and at night. She stays dry overnight mostly, but if I forget to make sure I take her to the bathroom, she tends to have accidents because she hasn’t learned to listen to her body yet.

I carry a huge weight of unmet expectations and mommy guilt. Then we have a day like yesterday.

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Luna “reading” and singing the stories in her book.

She used to have me repeatedly read this book every night, until it got misplaced and we moved onto other things.

She was so excited when she found it yesterday morning, “Read my cat book to me mommy!”

I read the first story and two pages in she told the character where it could go to be accepted, after being rejected by the zoo.

Then, she was reading the pictures and telling the story with a combination of remembering how I read it to her as well as her interpreting and inferring from the pictures.

She’s full of creative, imaginative energy and has built her version of Horseland using a combination of multi-colored blocks of diverse shapes, empty shoe boxes, rectangular word/letter puzzles, and her shoes. It is inhabited by Disney Princess figures, brightly colored plastic ponies and molded equine figures of varying design – fantastical and mundane.

Her Head Start Home Visitor measured and weighed her on Monday, with no concerns. Her pediatrician was happy with her growth and health at her 4 year check-up in December. She’s got another appointment with a pediatric dentist on Monday. She was too wiggly and anxious at the county clinics in January and February, so she’s been referred to a private dentist. I met with her Respite Care teacher last week and the county’s Educational Support Specialist today – neither expressed concerns.

Luna is a happy, healthy, active, engaged, inquisitive, innovative, creative, independent, affectionate, alert, and intelligent four year old girl.

I experience disruptions with my physical, cognitive, and emotional functioning. Apparently, all that means is that my parenting abilities are affected, not impaired. I have adapted. I am overcoming. I am a good mom.

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7 comments

  1. Okay here it is….As a mom myself and to a daughter nonetheless and with a daughter who lost her father to cancer when she was five there WAS a whole lot of guilt I dealt with daily. I used to think “if only I could have made him better” or “if there was a way to get him better” but none of these options that I realized were ever possible. With all this said I also had guilt from not being the “best” but then now that she is nineteen and we are so close I realize I did something right. Stop beating yourself up. You are the best person for her or the universe wouldn’t have chosen for you two to be together in the first place. Mother’s suffer from guilt all the time but it harms your relationship and stagnates it as you are stuck on what you haven’t done or incapable of doing. Strive for the best and make a plan that will enhance both of your lives. Good luck sweety and love yourself this is the best thing you can show your daughter.

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    1. Julie,
      Thank you for sharing your story and your heart.

      This post is about me moving from guilt into acceptance and understanding that I AM a good mom, regardless of the issues I deal with or the false beliefs about who I am that I, or others, have about me and my life.

      Blessings,
      Kina

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  2. You are a good Mom. I have had those same struggles over the years. I have fibromyalgia and bipolar also. I know those days where you don’t even want to get out of bed, let alone help your child. Embrace those good days and know that Luna loves you and thinks you are the best Mom ever.

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  3. I know it may seem hard to you to cook those home-cooked meals, but actually, it can be done very inexpensively and you too will find that your health will improve because I have no doubt at all that your dependence on pizza etc is contributing to your poor mental and physical health, not to mention your guilt! Try it. Your daughter will love being part of the process too. My daughter, aged 5, talked her babysitter through how to cook them both a highly nutritious meal, standing on a chair and telling her what to stir and when!

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    1. Caro,
      I have been doing more of it. I’ve even posted some of my successes. There are a lot of logistical issues besides affordability.

      The take away for me is that I am doing better than I give myself credit for and not nearly as bad as I have beaten myself up over. So, instead of focusing on what hasn’t been/isn’t going “right” I need to let go of the guilt and celebrate what IS good.

      Blessings,
      Kina

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