Guilt. Parents are plagued by it. Judging by my own experience, the parents with chronic illness doubly so. Most days I feel like I am crashing and burning as a mom, a wife, and a person at least once. For instance, today I used what energy I have to pee rather than stick potatoes in the oven.

I’m still adjusting to life with fibromyalgia. The best way I can describe it is like having a terrible accident. You’re fortunate enough to still have the ability to walk, but you’ll have to learn how again, and you’ll never walk the same way again. It’s so unbelievably frustrating to feel like I should be able to do something simple like play with my girls, but have to push them away because it hurts or I just don’t have the energy. And the guilt. Oh the guilt of having to say, That hurts mommy. I need you to stop. or I’m sorry I can’t read to you right now because I can barely keep my eyes open. (Try falling asleep while reading to your child some time. It’s awesome.) I think the hardest part of adjusting is sometimes I just feel like I’m being lazy. I think about how other moms suck it up and muddle through, so why can’t I? I worry that the amount of fatigue I’m feeling is just normal parent tiredness, that everyone else feels this way and that I’m just a giant pussy.

I feel horribly guilty about the impact this has on Mike. He didn’t sign up for this. We’ve pretty much been dealing with this for 6 1/2 of our 7 years of marriage. Seriously, on the day of his birthday he was watching the memorial service for the massacre at Tech on the tv in the lobby of the hospital while I was getting an MRI because the doctors thought I might have MS. While I feel like I pull my weight, I feel guilty because I feel like he’s been cheated out of an equal partner. I know it’s not my fault and that I didn’t do anything wrong, but it doesn’t always keep the guilt at bay. Honestly, I feel guilty for sitting in my bed and writing this now because he’s downstairs taking care of dinner because I couldn’t. I feel guilty for the toll it takes on him because he has to be strong when I can’t, which happens often. I feel guilty when I have to call him to come home from work because I don’t want him to get in trouble.

I’m so much more exhausted since Rachael started school since I have to get my ass up a couple hours earlier than what I’m used to. With the exhaustion comes a lack of patience. My goal for this week is not to lose my voice along with my patience. The problem is, when you’re this fatigued, every bullshit thing your child does feels like a major offense. Sometimes I can hold it together and speak to them in what Mike calls my NPR voice. Other times, I blitzkrieg the sassy “no” I have just heard from my child. And the thing that sucks is, whether my children understand that mommy’s losing her shit because she’s at the end of her rapidly fraying rope, (and they don’t. They just know mommy’s crazy and yelling at me) it’s not acceptable. I guess for now I’ll try to remain calm and look on the bright side: I’m no longer afraid to take them for a walk around the block… know…when I have the energy to do so.

I feel guilty for not exercising. I should exercise. It will help. But most days I just can’t. It was the worst when my body was still normal, (assuming there ever was a normal. I’m assuming I’ve had this for years and years and that’s why I totally and legitimately hate things like running and any general frolicking that includes too much physical activity and sweating. After doing all the things I need to do just to keep this house from looking and smelling like an episode of Hoarders, (I totally won’t be surprised if a cat skeleton turns up one day, and we don’t even have cats) the last thing I feel like doing is Walking Away the Pounds or doing strength training set to inspirational Christian music that still manages to sound like a poor imitation of 90’s secular music.

I wrote this because I felt the need to, not because I’m going fishing, so please no comments about But Julie, you’re the best mother of ever! because I’m not. I just needed to talk about it. And sorry for the rambliness. I’m terribly foggy right now.

4 thoughts on “Guilt

  1. Fatigue and normal parent tiredness don’t even belong in the same sentence. I try very hard to never complain about being tired, because I have felt fatigue and it’s not even close to being sleepy or tired.

    We all have mom guilt, but yours is multiplied because you don’t have a choice to say no. You have to say no to things that you are screaming yes to inside. 😦

    I’m glad you are having fun blogging because it is sure damn funny to read. We love you even if you are feeling guilty instead of humorous. 😉

  2. When/if you are physically capable of doing all these things you are pressuring yourself to do, I am sure you will! People can fight through “normal parent” fatigue and it sounds like you’d happily do the same. The fatigue that comes with chronic illness is like nothing I’ve ever experienced except maybe one time when I accidentally took sleep medicine in the morning after not sleeping most of the night… and then had to stay up all day…. and even then it isn’t really comparable.

  3. We should form a support group. And I’m only sorta kidding. Just know that you are not alone in the land of Mommy guilt, and if you ever need to feel better just read the news. There are some seriously shitty moms out there.

  4. I will be over Saturday morning at 9 to walk around the block with you. When done I will play with the girls while you do what you need to do. Then we can do that Sunday morning again and three nights a week because you are correct, exercise is going to help you to be who you want to be for you and subsequently Mike and the girls. It is kinda counter intuitive that exercise in the midst of pain is helpful but I know it to be true. Just a comment about guilt, only take to heart the kind of guilt that arises from situations that you can honestly do something about; otherwise, get rid of it. It is not helpful. That said, you have to get real about what is in your control or power to change. There’s the really tough question. Love you.

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