Having a chronic illness like fibromyalgia can often feel like a full-time job: between doctor appointments, treatments and resting during flare-ups, managing your health can take up a lot of time and energy. So what happens when you’re a parent with fibromyalgia, and you not only have to take care of yourself, but your children, too?
If you have fibromyalgia and struggle with daily pain, fatigue or brain fog, your parenting style may look a bit different than that of healthy moms and dads. But even if your symptoms mean you aren’t able to run around outside with your kids all day, it doesn’t mean there aren’t a million other ways to express your love and raise wonderful, compassionate people.
We wanted to know what it can “look like” to raise children while battling a chronic condition, so we asked our Mighty community to share photos that depict the reality of parenting with fibromyalgia.
Parenting with a chronic illness can certainly present a unique set of challenges and may require some “thinking outside the box,” but the following photos demonstrate just how much strength, perseverance and overwhelming love these chronic warrior parents are passing on to their kids.
Here’s what our community shared with us:
1. “This spunky little girl has become used to having to lay with me in bed, and rub my back when the pain gets too bad, and to go get me drinks when it’s just too painful for me to get up. I hate that I feel like I’m stealing her childhood because I’m in too much pain to move on my worst days. She’s wiped away tears and brushed my hair. I try and push through most days but she can tell when it’s just too much.” – Danielle M.
2. “Me making the effort to teach my kid how to cross stitch and all I want to do is sleep!” – Sandrini G. S.
3. “Took my kids to the zoo. I told them I wanted to ride the zoo train for fun. In reality I was so scared that my legs were going to give out on me and I was going to collapse at any moment. They get frustrated when I constantly have to sit and take a break. I was in bed for a week just from taking my kids to the zoo.” – April C. D.
4. “Had a really bad flare one day and my daughter took care of her momma all day, making sure I rested and did what I needed to to get through the pain.” – Erika M.
5. “As a mom with fibro I often have to use my imagination and be creative to find things I am able to do. This particular day my arms and legs were hurting really bad. My little girl and I were pretending that she was a hair dresser.” – Denise E.
6. “I can’t even tell you how much pain my back was in, and how incredibly exhausted I was when I took this picture yesterday… But we smile and we push through because others are counting on us.” – Terri D.
7. “Beach day with my kids after sitting out kayaking and hiking during our vacation. For the most part I have made my peace with FM pain, as in I know that the pain is a constant in my life and that I have to work around it but I really really hate the feeling that goes through my mind when I feel that I have failed them somehow as a parent. As parents, we always want to be there for our kids, for their every step, every milestone, every PTM meeting, every game, their highs and lows and most importantly, we want them to be kids for as long as they possibly can. What I absolutely hate about FM is that my kids have had to grow up faster due to my ever-present pain.” – Lakshmi R.
8. “Sprawled on [the] sofa in pain wishing I could sit and and play on the floor too.” – Nicola B.
9. “[I’m a] grandmother with fibromyalgia. Her grandfather has to do most of the cuddling because my arms get tired and achy. However, I have to get my cuddle time in now because she will probably outgrow my ability to hold her at all in just a few months.” – Sarah N.
10. “Wasn’t feeling well and put my head down for a bit. Must have fallen asleep.” – Elizabeth T. [The note says “Do not disturb.”]
11. “This was just over two years ago after my son was born. My symptoms increased exponentially once he was born. This is one of the rawest and most vulnerable pictures I have of myself. I was exhausted, as every new mother is, but I was also so sad. Sad because my whole body hurt so badly that I could barely hold my little baby without crying from pain. Sad because what should have been a joyous occasion was overshadowed by my disease. You’ll notice my hair is a mess. That’s because I couldn’t lift my arms high enough to fix it that morning. I could only sit, and lean back with my son on my chest and only with the support of a boppy pillow…Thankfully I have a partner who understands just how much pain I hide and is more than willing to help in any way he can and care for our son when I physically can’t.” – Virginia R. K.
12. “Me with my cuddle buddy on a rough day.” – Starlet L.
13. “Playing a game with my baby girl in bed because I’m just too sore to stay up.” – Tracy H. F.
14. “In this photo I’m in a horrible flare-up, so to make me feel better my son came in to snuggle with me. He rubbed my back and my daughter brushed my hair. Then they said they wanted to take photos with me because they love me. They understand I spend a lot of days in my bed tied up to my ‘leash,’ a.k.a. heating pad. They are able to get food for themselves, they’re able to entertain themselves and be able to take care of me. It’s a horrible burden to have on my 3- and 7-year-old, but they are happy to take care of me since when I’m not in a flare-up I take care of them so well.” – Danielle M.