Being the IBD Super Mommy
As much as we love spending time with our little pumpkins over the summer, it’s kind of nice when they go back to school and we get a break from hearing our name said in thirty different tones within a minute. Yes, my lovelies, it’s that time of the year. Back to School! I find that I share the same kind of excitement and nervousness as my second grader. New teacher. New class-mates. New homework. New after school activities.
Back to school with UC means a whole new schedule for my body to get used to
It’s a whole new schedule your body has to get used to, and a whole new set of people to come out of the ulcerative colitis or Crohn's closet to.
I work from home, so I volunteer a lot at the school and in the classroom. I suppose it comes from carrying a lot of mom guilt over having to be the sick-mom sometimes. So, I overcompensate with the volunteering and donating. Yes, j-pouch, ankylosing spondylitis, trigeminal neuralgia, psoriasis, and my terrible crafting skills are my attempt to Super Mom it every single school year.
How do we get through the year as a Super Mom? Here are a few tricks.
“Do The Most, Minimally”
Have the most impact, without the strain. For example, you want to help in the classroom, but are currently taking a medication that makes it easier to catch a cold. Be the classroom mom who sends out the emails, types up the class newsletter, and organizes the parties. You’re behind a computer, safely at home and still volunteering.
Donate school supplies
Classrooms are always in the need of glue, paint, pencils, erasers, glue sticks, craft items and paper. Order some in bulk and send little bits each week with your kid to school. There is also the need for hand sanitizer, wipes, paper towel, and tissues. Gift Cards to Lakeshore Learning, Target, Staples, and Amazon are always amazing to have on hand for your teachers. You now have a weekly volunteering obligation complete from the comfort of your bed.
Volunteer to read once a week in the classroom
If you have younger kids in preschool or elementary school, teachers are always looking for people to read a book in the classroom. It gives the teacher a moment to prep for the next assignment or grades papers. It also allows you to fulfill your volunteering duty without a lot of labor and stress.
“Find Your Village” for support when dealing with UC
Making mom friends is tough. It’s tougher when you have an autoimmune disease that people will either pity you over, or accuse you of being a flake over and never understand. They aren’t your girlfriends that love you. But they are a part of your community. They are a community you chose to be a part of. And like your IBD friends, they are connected to you. If you let them in, they will be there for you and support you.
So, go out and make mom friends
Preferably mom friends who are either in your child’s same school, little league, coding class, or religious studies group. Pick them and make friends with them. Then come out of the IBD closet to them. That’s right, the IBD closet. The one we hide in because we are afraid of people judging our ability to function while living with a painful disease, or those who are incredibly misinformed and think that we should thank our lucky stars we don’t have cancer.
Find a group of mom friends, come out of the IBD closet, and create your village
Why? Because these mom friends can be there for drop-offs and pickups, playdates and volunteering fill-ins when you need a mommy time-out due to a bad IBD day. Outside of all of that, it’s wonderful to have someone over for coffee who understands that it’s a luxury to have coffee that’s not reheated 12 times.
“Mom Time During School Time”
If you are a stay-at-home or work-from-home mom, there are no days off. There isn’t a moment to decompress to and from the office. You live, work, and play at your “office.” But being a mom who stays at home or works from home doesn’t mean you are not entitled to a moment of peace for yourself. It also doesn't mean you don’t deserve some help. The body of an IBD patient works about 10 times harder than a healthier person just to do simple day-to-day functions.
Make use of their school hours to take time for yourself. I like to take an hour or two a week to do something for me. I can’t be a good mom if I’m running on empty. I have to make sure I am rejuvenated.
Sometimes we find ourselves over-extending ourselves in unnecessary ways, when it would be easier and healthier to delegate the task out. In the middle of flaring and baby wearing my infant, I found myself in tears at trying to clean the kitchen... for four days. It was cheaper for me to clean the kitchen myself, but it was making me sicker and wasn’t getting done. In the end, it was better to set aside some cash to hire a housekeeper to come and clean up 1 to 2 times a week. You can’t buy peace of mind.
When a friend offers to do the grocery shopping for you, take them up on the offer. Or look into grocery delivery services. Hold playdates at an indoor playground that offers child supervision and possibly food. Coordinate carpools to and from school so that you have that extra time to get yourself together. You are not any less of a mother for delegating out simple tasks. Don’t waste energy on simple tasks; save it for the parenting tasks. It’s okay.
“Stop Feeling Guilty”
You didn’t give yourself ulcerative colitis. Stop feeling guilty about having it. Every parent has something, you are not the only person giving a child something to think about. Nobody has this whole parenting thing in the bag, everybody everywhere sucks at something. You actually might be ahead of the curve.
Sometimes having a parent who needs a little more compassion than the average human can spark inspiration in a young person’s heart. You may be shepherding a more caring, inclusive, motivated human being. That’s better than making sure you make it to every single soccer game. You are a good mom. Your kids are fed. Your kids are loved. You are doing the best that you can. You are a good mom.
Sending love and good vibes to all of you going through the next phase in your child’s life. The first day is a mixed bag of emotions. Enjoy and savor every single second. Good luck with the school year!