When IBD Wants To Share Mother's Day
Eight years ago, I officially became a mother. Ten years ago, I officially became an inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) patient. And the two lives often bicker and fight over who gets to rule my body and soul. The battle usually turns into war around Mother’s Day. Mom-life wants to do all the things: attend all the brunches, do all the crafting things, and be joyous and jubilant. IBD-life wants me to stay in bed with weighted blankets, a heat pack, re-runs of the X-Files and an open bathroom nearby.
What actually happens is I find myself surrounded by these magical mommies with their energy and ability to eat and play with their children without hesitation. By the end of the night, I am riddled with pain, guilt, and anxiety. Sometimes Mother’s Day turns into a day reminding me of the pitfalls of living with IBD while trying to raise a human. My particular journey through motherhood isn’t always celebrated or even acknowledged during Mother’s Day weekend. Perhaps it’s time to change that. Here are three tips chronically ill mothers can use to create the Mother’s Day they deserve and can handle while living with IBD.
The fine line between doing what you want and what you can handle
Ask for what you really want
Being with your whole family at a nice brunch while everyone is dressed to the nines in their dapper attire can be great, in theory. But when you’ve spent the week working, in a flare, driving kids back and forth to their extra-curricular activities and going in for a variety of blood tests, the reality of having to get the entire family, including yourself, dressed and out the door on time, can provoke anxiety. I always end up being grumpy on the way to our event because I am the last one to get ready, so I’m rushed. And my j-pouch doesn’t understand that I only have 20 minutes total to not look like an exhausted mom with a few autoimmune diseases. So, perhaps going out isn’t really for us.
Make a list of what you really want to do
Take the time to think of what your perfect Mother’s Day looks like. Make a list of things that you love to do when you’re well, and also when you’re in the middle of a flare, and what will make a great Mother’s Day. Share that list with your co-parent, your family, and your kids.
It’s okay to say “No”
I come from a family of women. Because of that, Mother’s Day is a group holiday. Which means it’s not all about me, we are also celebrating my mother, grandmothers, aunts, cousins, godmothers, sisters-in-law, and close family friends. For the first few years of motherhood, I never felt the holiday was about me or for me. I spent most of them dealing with serious medical issues, sometimes in the hospital. So, when it came down to planning, I was often not involved. But because I grew up with mostly women, I was raised in an environment where my voice was heard and opinions were taken into consideration. I was raised to be respectful, but also with the understanding that saying “no,” when I’m not healthy or comfortable, is perfectly fine.
Guess what? It’s okay to say “no.” You don’t have to sacrifice your physical and emotional health to celebrate motherhood. Do not feel guilty for declining invitations. Remember that it is YOUR day too. You absolutely have veto power before or on Mother’s Day.
Bring the party to you
If it’s a family gathering you are hoping to have, but don’t have the strength to get it together to go out, have everyone over. You can have a potluck or order in. Keep it casual, so you don’t have to get too dressed up. We will often move the coffee table and lay blankets out so that I can have a space to lay with the kids when I start to not feel well, and they need a nap. Put a movie on the TV and have a table full of snacks. If you’re worried about clean up, then ask that in lieu of cards, flowers, and gifts that people gift you a post-Mother’s Day cleaning service. This is a perfect way of getting together and enjoying one another without compromising yourself.
We try to ignore our pain and symptoms of IBD
We spend so many days as mothers ignoring our pain and other symptoms. We shouldn’t spend the one day created to honor our journey through motherhood, hurting ourselves or not respecting our mommy journey. Mothers living with IBD and other autoimmune diseases are the toughest of the tough. We find ways to live and love through our pain and obstacles. We deserve to be recognized and celebrated. You deserve to enjoy your Mother’s Day as much as any other mom.
Do you keep a food diary to help manage symptoms?