By Mara Migraineur
I have migraines. I have a lot of migraines. I wasn't always like this, but things have changed and now I have two children and 15 migraines a month. I know, it's not a great mathematical equation. In that amazing spare time all parents magically carve out for ourselves, I try to figure out a way to not have so many migraines. I'd love to write that last sentence to end "to not have any more migraines", but the reality of chronic illness is that it is, well, chronic.
Being a parent and dealing with my own chronic illness is an arduous task. I used to read parenting blogs frequently. I followed the Tiger Mom debate. I read about the woman raising Bébé. I swore I could overcome yelling at my kids.
And then I didn't. After a ridiculous amount of angst over how much television I let my children watch, especially when I have a migraine, I realized that all that parenting crap - if it applies to anyone at all - does not apply to me. It simply doesn't. I'm taking a pass. Permanently.
I could be uptight about my shortcomings as a parent - I certainly was for a long time. There are days on end that I don't even make it to dinner. The default sitter, as I've mentioned, is screen-time. I'm killing their brain cells and stunting their development left and right. And frankly, I'm cool with it. I was telling my therapist about yet another way in which I was failing my children and he got really upset with me, telling me that he knew what bad parenting looked like, rather personally, and that wasn't me. I, he said, was being a bully - to myself. That struck a chord more deeply with me than any parenting advice telling me how to do it better ever has.
I recently tried Botox as a migraine therapy. Thus far, it has provided me no relief. In fact, my migraines became daily for a while. I was only with my kids for a few hours each day before I couldn't be any more. I was terrified that it was my new normal. I thought about disappearing
so that my family could move on and have a "normal" life. It's a scary place to be.
There are no easy answers here. There's no tidy resolution. It is a daily struggle. I will say this: I couldn't do it without my community, my tribe. My family is doing as well as we are because of all of the support that we get from those who care about us, both near and far. We have friends who take our kids for play dates, who get us dinner (even from across the country!), and who simply check in with us. Knowing someone cares enough to ask how we are doing can give us that much more energy to get through the daily grind.
We are not the only family in our situation. In fact, I think we're more typical than not. Our society will not flourish as a million little individual units by ignoring each other. We all need each other desperately.
Do you have a strong community? What would be included in your ideal community?
About Mara Migraineur
Mara Migraineur writes in the moments in-between parenting and migraines. Oh, let's be real, she plonks her kids in front of the television in order to write. She is devoted to her family and will be loyal to anyone who brings her food, watches her children, and defends her children's choices to be who they want to be. Find her at My Migraine Family.