As a mom, I know that a fair amount of guilt occurs when you can’t attend your son’s soccer games or your daughter’s ballet recital. While you want to be the best mom for your children, fibromyalgia puts a real crimp in your desire to always be there for your kids. Let’s look at some ways to set the guilt aside and be the mom you want within the limitations that you now have.
If you can’t attend a school or sporting event, have someone record it for you and then watch it together with your children. Show your child how proud you are of him or her, and enjoy the moment together. I know it’s not the same as being there, but at least you’re creating a memory together.
You need to get rid of the guilt that comes from that word “should.” I know that moms are really good at feeling guilty, and FM exacerbates that. I “should” be able to make cookies for that bake sale. I “should” be able to help chaperone that field trip. I “should” be able to take my kids to the park, on a picnic, camping, skiing, or to that coveted birthday party. Throw your “shoulds” where they belong: in the trash.
Explain to your child why you can’t do a particular activity, but also let them know you will arrange for someone else to do it and that you can’t wait to hear all about it. If fibro symptoms have you confined to the bed or sofa, perhaps you can read to your child, have them do homework near you so you can help if needed (or a younger child color while you watch), or enjoy a movie or favorite show together. Your child needs to know without a doubt that they are loved and that you enjoy being with them.
Make sure your child understands that although you are sick, it’s not a sickness you will die from. Make sure they know it’s not because of them; they did nothing to cause it. Encourage them to enjoy their childhood to the fullest. They do not need to stay home just because you do. Remind them from time to time that it’s not their job to take care of you.
If you’re only able to attend part of an event, ask your child about the most important time to go. If it’s an indoor event, bring a seat cushion or whatever you need to be as comfortable as possible. If it’s an outdoor event, bring a comfy chair, sunscreen, and a bottle of water. Ask your child to fill in the details you might have missed because you had to leave early. Don’t hesitate to create a team of family and friends who are willing to fill in for you, even at the last minute. That’s an important detail because of fibromyalgia’s unpredictability.
Keep a list of activities that you feel capable of doing with your child. When you’re feeling up to it, let them choose one to do together. These activities could include getting an ice cream, going to the movies, taking a bike ride or going to the park. Make the list together and number each activity with 1, 2 and 3. A “1” means you have enough energy for the activity, while 3 means it’s something you can still do even if it’s not a great day physically.
Participate in groups available on fibromyalgia message boards. Create or join a group, such as Mommies Fighting Fibro on Facebook. Talking with other moms who understand is really liberating. They may shre ideas that you can use and experiences that you can relate to. You may even make new friends.
Please remember that your children love you and they understand more than we give them credit for sometimes. Keep the lines of communication open and try to listen with your heart and not take their frustrations personally. You ARE a good mom doing the best you can!