On November 15, 2010 at 3:12 AM, I became a mom.
Some might argue that I became a mom once I became pregnant (or at some morally-determined point of the pregnancy), but, to me, motherhood began the moment I saw that little, helpless body struggling to breathe.
J spent four days in the NICU with a pneumothorax (otherwise known as a collapsed lung), and I learned the most important trait of being a mom: how to worry while outwardly appearing calm. And that pretty much sums up the last two years – worry. Worrying that J will stop breathing in the middle of the night; worrying that he will fall out of the stroller; worrying that he didn’t talk soon enough; worrying that he isn’t eating enough of the right foods.
And, of course, the biggest worry: Am I a good mom?
Despite the times I lose my patience or forget to bring the right toy or a change of clothes, I know that, no matter what, I AM A GOOD MOM. It’s almost become my own personal mantra. I love that little boy with every single bit of my being, and I would do anything for him. To me, nothing else matters.
Truly believing that I am a good mom has not come easy. After all, I’m not perfect. Far from it. And, in addition to the normal imperfections of every mom, I carry an additional burden: I have lupus and fibromyalgia.
Both lupus and fibromyalgia are chronic conditions that are not well understood. I define lupus as an over-active immune system that turns on the good cells in your body. Fibromyalgia, on the other hand, is a mystery to me – in fact, it sounds like a made-up disease. Basically, it’s your brain incorrectly functioning to perceive pain that either doesn’t exist or amplifying the pain that does exist. If you want more information about either of them, please visit my Links page.
While these diseases manifest differently in each person, my symptoms include extreme fatigue, nausea, migraines, joint and muscle pain, pluerisy (inflammation of the lung sac), and sun-induced skin rashes. Thanks to my doctors and medications, however, I am lucky to have a very near-normal functioning life. After all, I was able to do one thing many lupus patients are unable to…have a baby.
And while J will grow up with a mom who might need a nap on some days instead of a trip to the park, he will also grow up with a mom who feels so very blessed to have him. I have spent hours upon hours lamenting the fact that I will not be able to give him everything a perfectly healthy mom could give, and I am sure I will continue to resent these diseases every time they steal away time from my son.
Despite all this, I know the time it takes to manage my disease is worth it so I can be there for him as much as possible. And when I do have the energy, I am right there on the floor playing with cars or reading books to J. That makes me a good mom.
When it’s time to do the icky tasks – clipping the toe nails or cleaning up the vomit – I am there. Or when it’s time to do the tasks that make him hate me – telling him no, punishing his missteps, making him put on his coat – I do them despite the resistance. That makes me a good mom.
When I’m walking away from J’s tears as he leans over the half door at daycare, crying for me not to leave, I know I’m making the right decision. My paycheck helps to save for his college, pay his doctor bills, and provide a nice home, not to mention daycare gives him the social interaction an only child so desperately needs. Even though it’s breaking my heart, I put on a smile and wave goodbye. That makes me a good mom.
I may not be perfect; I have challenges in my life. I wanted to start this blog as an affirmation that I am a good mom, despite the little daily battles and set-backs. Consider this my on-going story, a record of the ups-and-downs of accepting the imperfections and of being a good mom.