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Parenting a Toddler with Chronic Illness

Posted Dec 09 2010 3:14pm

I would probably consider this post part III of my Identity Crisis series as being a mom with chronic illnessbut it has taken me so long to get around to it that I chose a different title (click here to read Part I about being a woman with chronic illness and click here to read part II about being a wife with chronic illness).  I think because I have finally come to the understanding that I don’t have a clue about how to find balance between motherhood and chronic illness when it comes to parenting a toddler!

Abby is now 19 months old and is WIDE OPEN. She tends to start everything a little early so the terrible 2′s are getting a head start in our household! Don’t get me wrong – she is an amazing and loving little girl but she can be so stubborn (like her mama) so it is causing some battles. Lately its seems that as my pain levels go up, my energy levels go down just as her energy stays up all the time!

And in all of her new learning (such as new words and new skills), she is also learning to test limits. I know that when I am flaring my emotions are in hyper-drive and my patience is hard to come by. So how on earth do you find balance? Is it possible? How do you keep a toddler entertained during a flare? How do you disciple with love and patience?

I am by no means an expert and do not claim to be. I am merely a mom with chronic illness learning as I go. So don’t expect to find any miracle cures to all toddler woes here! But what I have learned recently is that in order to take care of her I have to take care of me.

I have really struggled with how Abby will adjust to having a sick mom lately especially since being on temporary disability. Will she grow up thinking resenting it? Will she wish she had a different mommy? I have let this eat at me and I hate it. I have let chronic illness determine what kind of mom I will be and I refuse to let it happen for one more day. Chronic illness will impact every area of my life. There is no denying that. It is a part of who I am but it is not who I am. I am a mom with chronic illness but first and foremost I am a MOM. And that means the world to me.

So as much as I have wrestled the last two weeks being home on temporary medical leave, I have learned that in order to be the best mom I can be for Abby, it starts with taking care of me. The answer isn’t going to come from Happiest Toddler on the Block or Dr. Phil but my taking care of myself and my health, I can then be the best mom I can be for her and in the present, it means taking an absence from work. It means resting when I need to or asking for help for common chores. This allows me to have energy for her when she comes home from daycare. This allows me to respond to her toddler challenges with patience. This allows me to be fully present as much as possible and enjoy our time together so it won’t pass me by.

The toddler stage definitely comes with its challenges (as does every stage) but what I want most is to be able to take it all in – the good and the bad – as I know all too soon it will be over.

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