Everyone has setbacks in their life, things that happen unexpectedly and throw disorder into your life routine. We carry on, do the best we can, muddle through, survive. That’s our objective, to survive and come out the other end.
I’m getting on a bit now and I’ve experienced these setbacks many times. Setbacks seems too tame a word, I mean proper life changing experiences that can either make or break you. They say ‘what doesn’t kill you makes you stronger.’ If that’s the case then I must be as strong as the Incredible Hulk! Only I’m not, I’m just me, muddling along, surviving.
You come through the other side, life settles and you start to feel comfortable again, maybe even happy. Perhaps it was a good setback, something that needed to happen, even though you didn’t think it at the time.
If you are a parent then it may be some time before you realise the effect everything has had on your kids. Yes, you have survived, but have all of you come through unscathed. I know the things in our past has affected my older children. But what I hadn’t realised was how my younger children are affected by more recent setbacks.
Or more specifically, my health setback.
It’s been nearly seventeen months now. That may be a drop in the ocean to an adult, but to a child it’s a long time. A long time that their mummy has been sick. A long time that their mummy has been disabled and unable to do the things she used to.
For the first year we stayed positive and lived in hope. It was only a matter of time until I got better, I worked on it, the hospital worked on it. We had hope, the kids had hope. They wanted their mummy back.
The start of the second year and I had a new diagnosis. One that meant I would probably get worse, not better. Hope was dashed.
We carried on, we had to, we had to continue like this was the normal now. We have all found it hard but I didn’t realise how hard the kids were finding it.
Star has her own problems and processes things differently because of her autism. She doesn’t like me being sick but it’s just another thing for her to deal with. She is already in counselling at school.
Boo is very sensitive and we have noticed a change in her behaviour. We were called into the school for a chat…always a bad sign…and found out that her personality had changed at school too. She had become very withdrawn and quiet, and often refused to interact with the other children in her class, even her friends. When asked about her feelings she admitted that she was worried about me. She’s now having counselling sessions to help her.
Then there is The Little Man, he’s a summer baby and the youngest in his class, he’s only six when most of his peers have already turned seven. He has always been the most immature and found it difficult to settle down and do his work. However, lately he’s become more responsive so he is starting to mature. His teacher spoke to us and asked us if it would be okay if he spoke to the school nurse as she was worried about him. We agreed, thinking it was because of his previous behaviour. Then a couple of days later the nurse called me to tell me how her meeting with him had gone. It turns out that he is worried about me, he wants to know if I’m going to get well again. he doesn’t like me being sick. The nurse is now giving him six weeks of counselling sessions.
My heart is breaking. I now have three young children in counselling. I’m glad that they are getting some support, but it’s still sad. My babies are so worried that they are going to lose their mummy. They want me to be well again, to be like I was before. I give them loads of love and cuddles and try to do as much for them as I can. But it doesn’t matter how hard I try, the simple fact is that I’m obviously sick.
“I’m so sorry kids, I didn’t mean to get sick. I don’t want to be sick. I want to be a normal mummy again. I want to get better. I don’t want you to remember your childhood like this. “
Soon, I’m going to be starting a new treatment, which means more time in hospital. However, I’ve heard good (and bad) things about this treatment and it might make me better for a while. Sadly, it’s not a cure, but I could be like I was before for a while, I may even be able to walk a little more.
It should stop my illness from progressing, halt it a little, give me more time.
“I’m so sorry kids you’ve been affected so much by mummy being sick, but I promise you, I will do whatever I can to get better.
I will also keep on trying to do the things I used to do. I will hide my pain and make sure the rest of your childhood is free from worry.”
We all have setbacks in our lives, we don’t always immediately see the affects that these life changes have on our children.