I used to be so much worse. Really, I was. I confess....I was Mom, the control freak.
While we were enjoying nearly nine years of remission from Juvenile Arthritis, I ran my house like a well oiled machine. There were routines, there were schedules. Everything worked. Don't mess with my groove.
I had a plan.... and a backup plan (and truth be told, there was even a backup to the backup plan.) Things very well thought out. Planned to the smallest detail. I was so in control of the minutia that I never needed the backup plan. But I had one, just in case. You know the type, right?
JA threw all of that out the window.
Things could change from day to day, or even hour to hour. My backup plans needed backup plans. Monday's plan had to be switched to Thursday. Sunday was now Tuesday. For a while it almost led me to neurosis. My world was spinning out of (my) control. Then I learned to step back, and breathe.
I won't lie. Having two cases of juvenile arthritis in our family has not been fun. It has been out and out crappy quite a bit of the time. As long as I am being truthful, I wish we never had to deal with it, not even for ONE day. But we have, and we do. And, I cannot ignore that despite the crud it has dished out, it has also given us gifts.
Yes, I said it. It has also given us gifts.
There have been times over the last four years that "mom the control freak" was anything BUT in control. JA reared its ugly head, and IT was the one running our lives. It dictated our schedule with doctors appointments, hospital stays and missed opportunities. It ruled our emotions with alternating feeling of fear, anger and despair. It changed the way we ate (on the fly, in the car between appointments, or well after dinner time when appointments ran late) the way we slept (even waking in the middle of the night to administer meds) and the way we "played" (movies on the couch instead of days at the ball field.) I had to give up control to JA.
At first that made me mad. Then it made me downright grouchy. Who wants to give up control, especially to a disease? It didn't feel like a gift, but it was.
Giving up control made me more easygoing. Not keeping the schedule became less of a big deal. I learned to go with the flow, be more spontaneous...seize opportunities when we could because planning for them meant they might *not* happen. I learned to stop and smell the roses, and appreciate the little things so much more. In some ways, it took a lot of the pressure off.
Don't get me wrong, things were still pretty stressful. JA kept me on my toes, and worried in a different way. But the things I worried about? They were the really important things. They were the things that mattered. So what if my laundry was a day overdue. So what if I pull the clean dishes for dinner out of the dishwasher instead of the cabinet (because I just didn't have time to empty it.) So what. My kids were clothed (yes, clean! even if the favorite shirt was ready tomorrow instead of now) they were fed (from a low stress crockpot meal instead of a "fancy" dinner) and they were happy (despite being sick, because I was coming up with more creative ways to spend time with them that worked, IN THAT MOMENT.) JA made me get off the proverbial hamster wheel. HUGE GIFT.
Although I have "let go" quite a bit, I still have a plan (or two or three,) but have learned to be flexible. There are now levels of importance that I recognize, and still exercise a bit of control (meds are always on time! Dr appointments are made! School remains a priority!) but I have learned to let some other things go a bit (laundry can wait, homework can be delayed an hour so we can see friends, and I'm not too busy to play a board game.)
This whole process has taught me to live a little more, and prioritize a little better; to rethink what is truly important and let go of what isn't. It has made me a better mom, and a happier person despite the miserable circumstances that brought me to that place.
Juvenile Arthritis may have taken control of the reins for a while, but I didn't let it win. I used its powers for good instead of evil! I allowed it to be the catalyst for positive change in myself and in my family.
So you know what that means, right?
Even though I did (and am doing things) completely differently.....
I confess. I'm still "mom the control freak," because I took control.
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