Coping Chronicles: Kids and Chronic Illness

I participate in a few POTS groups on FB. There are some awesome conversations happening there. People are forced to ask very personal, difficult questions and share some sad circumstances. For the most part, it's been a great community for me, though I was VERY slow to join in (hard to participate when you'd rather be in denial about being one of those sick people). One of the groups is dedicated entirely to POTS, family life, and pregnancy. Pretty much right in my wheelhouse. Today a young woman asked for help for her and her serious boyfriend as they work through the difficult question of whether or not kids and family could be in their future. The responses were great! I took the time to write these two paragraphs. This is info I've been wanting to write out and share as part of my effort to help other moms figuring this stuff out. Not too fancy, but some practical stuff and a little encouragement:

I have three children all under the age of 6.5, and I chose to get pregnant one last time after my POTS diagnosis to add that fourth kid we had always imagined. I've made a few choices that help. These may not be possible for everyone, of course, but they are good to consider. 
1. We bought a house that has good indoor and outdoor spaces for play b/c I'm not always able to get the kids out for a walk or trip to the park. Big outings like museums/zoo are only possible with another adult. When I do choose to blow my energy on a big outing or family event, I enjoy it fully, but I just plan to pay for it with a few days of recovery. 
2. I have one afternoon of babysitting every week, so the kids can be with someone who is able to be active. I can use that day to crash if I planned/achieved something fun or big earlier in the week.
3. I force myself to be completely honest with a handful of friends about how hard it really is. That way, they can sort of help spread the word if I'm unavailable or other acquaintances start getting crabby about me not showing up for stuff or not taking on enough volunteer responsibilities at church/school/etc. 
4. I have learned to let go of some cleaning/aesthetic preferences in my home! I basically keep just a couple areas looking good for my own comfort/sanity, but I try to be really flexible about the rest. If I'm not, I just turn into a tyrant! 
5. I think it's good to spend more money on occasional cleaning/organizing help rather than childcare. Kids will only need this intense, regular attention for a few years (unless you homeschool, but even then it gets less demanding as they get older.). I'd rather lie on the floor doing puzzles or watching them play than bust my chops to get the kids babysat for me to spend my scant energy on less important things like mopping.

Oh and... I have seen some really beautiful character qualities beginning to develop in my young kids because I am a sick mom. They care more about people and experiences than doing everything just so. They are empathetic and perceptive to other people's needs and pain. They know it is ok to need and ask for help. They know that other adults in their lives are great resources of love and wisdom- not just mommy (though they do still love me the best!!) They are learning that a person's worth is not based on how much she can accomplish! I always hoped to be a supermom. I always told myself that I was going to be cheerful and energetic... But, here I am. I'm seeing that my vision of being a good mom and actually choosing each moment to be the best mom I can be are very different things. I and my family are learning tons of great stuff, and I try to take the long view when I get really bummed out or overwhelmed with the immediate difficulties.

I will add here that I 100% get overwhelmed by the immediate difficulties sometimes. There is very real, hard stuff going on here, and this week I've been beaten to tears by all the stress more than once. Without the prayers and love of first my God, then my great husband, and then my family and friends, I do not know that I would climb out of these pits that I sometimes find myself in. My counselor helps a lot too!

What I Learned While My Family Was Hurling

The Artist's Challenge

The Artist's Challenge