Parenting while ill (3 women’s stories)

Mom guilt. It’s something that I became acquainted with on the same day I became acquainted with my son.

From the moment, I couldn’t give him enough milk and then gave him too much milk. I have been feeling like I’m failing him.

From spending too little time with him to spending too much time with him. It’s the struggle for balance, and nothing has brought this struggle for balance more into focus than suddenly being sick without a real diagnosis.

As most of you guys know, I’ve been struggling with my health, turns out I was misdiagnosed and I’ve been back to hospitals, specialists and have more things lined up.

I’ve been blessed to be able to work from home and although I can cope with designing and writing pretty easily, it is the extra “mom activities” that has me tired. I can design a whole paper without any issues but “let’s take a race” will take me down.

It’s been a long journey,one which is still continuing and it’s brought my mom guilt to the forefront like never before.

Suddenly I find myself hiding how sick I am feeling. I find myself questioning just how much my incredibly empathic kid should know. Especially since I don’t know much.

I wonder if me being so tired is going to affect him. I don’t want his memories to be sprinkled with “but my mom was sick” . So, I push myself every day. I push myself to seem like myself. I don’t want him to see me cry. I don’t want him to see me weak. I don’t want him to see me constantly tired, even though I am constantly tired. I struggle to keep up with his homework, with his requests for game play and way more than I’d like to admit.

 This made me think of how other moms are dealing with it. So I contacted two friends of mine, one who battled thyroid cancer and one who had kidney failure and had a kidney transplant not too long ago.

I chatted to them about how they dealt with being a mom, while being a “sick person”.

Scheduling PTA meetings in between specialist appointments, doing homework while taking hands full of medication, playing with your child when walking to the bathroom exhausts you.

Although neither of them hide their health challenges, I withheld their names for their preteen daughters’ sake.

Cancer as a caregiver

I really felt two major challenges. One was feeling like I had to downplay how I was feeling so that my daughter didn’t panic. I had to hide my tablets, take them in secret, and act energetic so that she could “have a mom”. I have a photo of me taking her for a milkshake with my neck bandaged, and I remember feeling so sick and tired that I wished she’d just drink that milkshake faster!

The other challenge was how other people treated her. As soon as they found out I had cancer, teachers, friends and family all treated her like a victim. And she rode that train! I had to remind her that, even if was sick, she still needed to take her homework seriously, remember her manners and not walk all over people because she knew they felt sorry for her. And, even though I’ve been clear of cancer for more than three years, she (and my husband) still refers to me as “having” cancer, and she still asks about every multivitamin and antihistamine I take as if it’s cancer treatment. 

It becomes such a massive part of your life, whether you want it to or not. It becomes part of who you are – to yourself and to them.

Kidney failure and kids

Being sick and having a child is one of the toughest things to go through because you don’t want your kid to see you in pain. 

My daughter is the strongest girl I know. Since she was a baby I’ve been through hell and back. From being on dialysis for 8 years, to surviving a Kidney Transplant and then surviving covid. 

The worst part was not spending enough time together because most of my days I spent in hospital and when I’m home I’m tired and drained but I always try my best to be strong for her. I’ve had days where I would feel depressed but she saved me and still does time and again with her smile and her bubbly personality. Then there are days when you pretend to be okay but you are in so much pain. Days when getting out of bed is the hardest but you have to do it because it’s school and you have to get your child ready for school, prepare lunch, do the chores, cook, help with homework those days are the hardest ever and it would make me so moody and grumpy but there is always a light at the end of the tunnel. I have my good days and my bad ones but I would not trade her for anything. I believe we all have a purpose in life and I was given this life for a greater purpose. God is good and he has given me strength in my weakness. 

She is the reason I kept going and continue to stay strong. She makes it easy for me to be her mom and she loves me unconditionally and she means the world to me.


A big thank you to these incredible women for sharing their stories. If any of you guys are experiencing anything similar, please do reach out in the comments so we can chat.

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