I used to be and feel like a cool mom. I used to make forts with my children and crawl around on the floor. Every single day, we made sure to get out of the house for a breath of fresh air and a spontaneous activity. But now I live in chronic pain and things have changed.
If I’m honest, I really miss the mom I used to be prior to bearing this physical cross that I do.
In the past six months, I’ve been to more of my own doctor’s appointments than I have for all four of my kids combined. Not to mention, I can count on one hand how many times I’ve taken my kids out of the house by myself since my injury. It kills me, because I want to feel independent with them again. I just want to be the mom I was before this pain took hold.
With my chronic pain also comes poor coordination and strength in my hands and arms. What used to take me twenty minutes now takes forty. When I have a hard time successfully pouring juice without a great spill, which is a frequent occurrence, I’m irritated and frustrated in the worst way. Buttoning my children’s clothing even comes with its challenges now. And don’t even get me started on the struggle of maneuvering car seats.
In many ways, I don’t even recognize myself anymore. For ten years, I was a kickass competitive cheerleader. I used to do so many flips, it’d make your head spin. So to be struggling with chronic pain and limited in what I can do is unfamiliar and frustrating.
I want my life to revolve around something other than my chronic pain. I want to be spontaneous once more, because my personality thrives on spontaneity and adventure. My kids need a thriving and pain-free mother, and I’m not sure that will ever happen.
When my husband plans a spur-of-the-moment zoo day, my heart breaks when I can’t go. And on the days I do go, I pay for it for in the days thereafter. Not to mention, with my leaning over the double stroller, sweating with a smile through the pain and my constant desire to sit down, I feel like I ruin everyone else’s good time. They don’t make me feel that way, but that’s how it feels to me nonetheless.
When my friends plan a play date, I don’t want to cancel. But more times than not, I have to. And why? Because of my pain, even though I usually make up some other excuse for my regretful decline of an invitation. How long can I plead aches and pains to someone who does not live in chronic pain? I feel like they think I’m lying or exaggerating or just using it as an excuse to bail on plans, but I’m not.
I’m in pain every single minute of my life. It’s not always a 9-out-of-10, persistent pain, but I haven’t been pain free in more than six months. And it’s not just the physical part of my hurt that plagues me. Sometimes it’s the slew of emotions that comes along with it. The guilt, anger, depression, anxiety, and fear of the unknown. It’s exhausting, all of it.
Even when I want to give up, lay in bed, or physically detach from the pain, I’m standing firm. Because, in reality, what choice do I have?
This is the body I have. I am a mom living with chronic pain. So when I have my worst days and the guilt flares alongside the pain, I will tell myself the truth: I am not a bad mother. I am just a hurt one.