When you have a child, you make this silent vow, a promise to yourself that you will protect, love and adore this baby and always be there for them. And so when something makes that difficult, when an unplanned illness or injury makes you falter at the most important job you have ever had, it is tough.
My kids have grown up with me having Ulcerative Colitis, Charlie was 3 and Ellie was 11 months when I was diagnosed. Thom was born a year later, my body having fought against his during the pregnancy where I had awful flare ups that made me anaemic, made me pass out, made me lose weight and eventually be hospitalised on bed rest and blood transfusions.
They have grown up with a mum who runs away from shopping trolleys in supermarkets to go to the loo, who always has wipes in her bag way past a time when they could be deemed necessary for children. They have seen me so ill in bed that I didn’t have the energy to help them get ready for school, they have had to visit me in hospital more times than is ever right for a child, they have stroked my hair as I lay in bed with them and brought me heat pads and pain killers when I couldn’t manage myself.
They have learnt to make their own breakfasts, lunches and dinners. They come running asking “mum, are you ok” when they hear my fast footsteps to the bathroom and the slam of the door. They cried when they saw me in pain, wiped my tears away before their own and cuddled me, all piling into my bed to watch a film because they know that is the best I can give at that moment.
When they shied away from me after surgery, because they were afraid of hurting me and thought my stoma was weird, it was the toughest time. And now knowing that my bambinos have had a harder childhood because of my illness, it breaks my heart.
Having a chronic illness or a disability that sometimes stops you doing all the things you want to do can feel like having one hand tied behind your back, it can feel like you are at a huge disadvantage and believe me, I know the feelings of anger, frustration, hurt and pain when as a mum, you can’t give your kids everything they need.
But I have to believe that my illness has also given my children positives, that the lessons they have had to learn will do them good in their lives. I see it already in my loving, attentive and caring children. I see it in the fact that despite the fact that I talk about poo for a living, they aren’t embarrassed! They are so compassionate and empathetic and they have an insight into invisible disabilities as well as visible disabilities than many adults don’t. They know that the richest you can be is when you are happy and surrounded by those you love, that your health is vital as this is the only body you get, they know that life sometimes gives you things you don’t want, need or ever even dreamed of but that you have to deal with it all through talking openly, sharing your feelings, occasionally weeping in a snotty mess, then pulling on your big girl (or boy!) pants and making the best out of the situation.
And so to the mums who today are celebrating mother’s day who have had to, on occasion, put their health before their child’s immediate needs, who have a heavy heart filled with guilt when they think about the things their children have seen and dealt with, to those who are cared for in part by their children, to those who have a disability or illness that affects the whole family…
To you mums, I salute you. I raise a glass in solidarity to all who are just doing their best to get through each day. I feel your pain but remind you gently, that it isn’t physical perfection that makes for a great momma, it is love, kindness and the ability to hug, kiss and raise amazing young people.
Our babies may not have the upbringing that we dreamt of, but they have us now.
Today hold them a little closer and pat yourself on the back for being enough.
Love Sam x