I suffer from chronic fatigue (CFS) and fibromyalgia and have for quite a few years now. In that time I’ve had to learn my new limits and to try not to compare myself to others who don’t have these issues. Which is easier said than done.
Still, since moving to England I’ve managed my conditions fairly well. My chronic fatigue is ever-present, and I honestly don’t remember what the feeling of waking up well-rested feels like. (Is it even a thing? I don’t know anymore.) But I handled the fatigue well enough that I could hold down a full-time job, even if I was exhausted outside of work hours and managed little else. As for the pain, I have learned my limits. I know how far I can walk without it resulting in excruciating pain, and I know which activities just don’t work for me.
On occasion, I still over-do it of course. It’s impossible not to. I had to go to London last week to visit the Embassy and apply for a new passport. I wore a pair of boots that aren’t my usual well-walked shoes, and we did a lot of walking for several hours. That evening and the next two days I could barely move. For the most part, I do manage not to get into that situation.
In general, I feel like I have a better handle on the pain than the fatigue. The pain is endurable, while the fatigue is what really gets me.* It’s what keeps me from doing a lot of things. I just can’t find the energy a lot of the time. And I hate it.
I hated it before. I hate it even more now that I have the tiny tyrant. Mum guilt is a thing that all mothers struggle with, I think, and I definitely suffer with it. I feel like I really have things to feel guilty about.
There are times when we don’t make it out of the house for a few days, because I just cannot muster the energy. And I feel like the worst mum ever.
There are times when she wants me to sit with her on the floor and build blocks, legos, trains… and I can only do a short while before my pain makes it impossible and I have to get up. And I feel like the worst mum ever.
There are times when I’m so exhausted I just want to sit in a corner and cry because I can’t find the energy to give my child everything I wish I could. And I feel like the worst mum ever.
There are times when there are toys all over the floor and the laundry pile is bigger than the clean pile, and the dishes cover the kitchen counter, and I just can’t bring myself to tidy up. And I feel like the worst mum ever.
There are times when I visit my friends with kids, and I see their spotless homes, I see all the things they do with their kids every day, I see them do all the things I wish I could. And I feel like the worst mum ever.
I think every mum probably feels inadequate in one way or another, and I’m in no way trying to downplay those feelings for other mums. This is really just a post for me to get my own feelings out, trying to sort them through in my head. A lot of the times I just feel like such a useless waste of space, and it’s not a great feeling. People telling me I’m not, while I appreciate their sentiments… it just doesn’t make me feel any better. It doesn’t change the facts. I try not to compare myself to people who don’t have my conditions, but it’s hard. And some days I think even people with my conditions probably manage better than I do.
Still, I have a happy child (for the most part) who is hitting all her milestones (except height/weight!) and can entertain herself for stretches of time since she’s had to when mummy just isn’t able to play with her for a while. And that’s what I need to remind myself of. Every day.
What’s your worst mum guilt?
*This is purely my personal experience, and I’m fully aware that there are others out there whose fibromyalgia pains are a lot worse than mine.