Yes, we all know that health is everything, and when mommy gets sick, things get a bit complicated. Aside from the challenge of taking care of others when all you wish for was someone to take care of you, little ears and inquisitive minds want to know what’s going on. Do you tell your kids or do you go on as if nothing is wrong?
Lately I’ve realized there are no easy answers. Certain health issues have been bothering me for months and I try to keep them to myself as much as I can. However it’s impossible to fool your kids. They know something is off. So for me, honesty is the best policy — even if that means limiting the details so that it doesn’t create more anxiety. Also, I don’t want my children to think that what’s going on is their fault.
By addressing the fact that I am not feeling well, it becomes less scary, especially for my 8-year-old daughter. If something is kept a secret, we tend to think it’s a big deal. We imagine there is a HUGE reason behind the secrecy. Since I’m not hiding it, this allows her to trust me more, too. It also teaches her that it is okay to not feel wonderful all the time. I do reassure her that the doctor has said that I don’t have anything serious (which is true) so that she doesn’t worry. If I need to undergo tests, I tell them after the fact, so they don’t get nervous (especially when doctors take days or weeks to share the results) and don’t get scared of procedures they might need in the future.
On the other hand, there’s an added benefit to sharing with your kids that you’re experiencing health issues. They’ve surprised me by helping out as much as they can, especially with minor chores. It warms my heart to see them fighting over who helps me carry in the groceries. Other times it stresses me out because my daughter does tend to want to take care of me and I don’t want her assuming that role at such a young age. It’s too big of a burden for her to carry on her shoulders and at this point, it’s also totally unnecessary.
I know that for those moms experiencing serious illnesses the situation is different, especially when they cannot be sure of the outcome. However, my friends that have had cancer, have all shared the diagnosis with their kids once they consider them old enough to know. They wanted their children to learn from them what was going on and not to accidentally overhear a conversation in which their illness was being addressed.
Each family and each mom has the right to choose how they want to handle illnesses when they affect parents. All I know is that for me, having my kids know when I am sick, ill, or not feeling well has been the best choice.
The good news is that even if moms don’t get time off from parenting their children when they’re sick, they can get days filled with extra cuddles, because I’ve learned that my kids will make an effort to show me how much they care about me if I’m having a bad day. And love is truly the best medicine, even if you don’t know what’s ailing you.
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