A fellow D-Mom posted on facebook today, her angst reading through like facebook had just installed emotions 3-D. (Thankfully, they have not yet).
For the first time since her child’s diagnosis, she’d forgotten to give him a breakfast bolus. And now, realizing it, the mother came to what some may think is an obvious conclusion: She’s unfit to be a D-Mom.
Okay, so dial back about 14 years in time. My daughter was a newly diagnosed kindergartener. I was still in the midst of adapting to all this. Mornings meant blood sugars, breakfast, carb counting, timing (that was back when there was Regular and no Humalog or Novolog. Oh, those were the days of challenge). I have an older child too so just getting it all in order and both of them out the door and off to school was like a top level Navy Seals operation.
So this particular day, I sighed my usual sigh of relief after they were both gone. I sat for a few minutes, and then walked back to the kitchen to pour my 1400th cup of coffee.
And there it was, sitting on the counter, sneering at me: the needle full of NPH I was supposed to give my daughter that morning.
It grabbed a little sun and glimmered up at me in that “I’m so much cooler than water” kind of way and said, “You. Are. A. Horrible. Mother.” I nodded at Mr. NPH, so potent even at just a few units. I knew he was right.
I grabbed the phone, dialed our practice and had our endo paged.
“Moira, what’s up?” He said in his usual chill, awesome, you-can-count-on-me way. Oh, how was I even going to tell him? I took a deep breath. And said this:
“Forgive me, Doctor, for I have sinned. I’ve forgotten to give Lauren her insulin this morning.” Then I burst into tears. “How could I forget the medicine that keeps her alive? How can I be this bad at taking care of her? What time will DSS be coming?”
He cut me off.
“Moira, Moira. Calm down. Listen, I want to tell you something: this is good news to me. Really good news.”
He went on to explain, over my sniveling (hey, cut me some slack. That mean old NPH was sticking its orange tongue out at me the entire time as if to say “how could you NOT see me?”). Diabetes, he said, is a lifelong companion. It’s always going to be there (until the cure). And while it is indeed vital for parents to understand daily care and do the best they can, it is just as vital for them to help find a “new normal” for their family. Insulin doses, given a few times a day, are like lunch money to other parents, he said. And some days, parents forget the lunch money. Me forgetting her shot meant, to him, that I was making the transition back to just living life. And while he said it’s not a good idea to forget every day, it’s perfectly normal (and a sign you are working at adapting and living life) to forget from time to time. He reminded me it was fixable, and since I was still a freshman in the D-Mom Class of Until the Cure, he talked me through how to fix it. And told me, promised me, that I would forget again, and that next time, I’d know how to fix it and it would not be a big deal.
In other words, I was good enough to be a D-Mom, just as that mom who posted today is.
There’s a lot riding on perfection in this world in general, and in the diabetes world, it’s even more so, and it seems to be more and more assumed that we all need to strive for perfection. With better tools should come an easier life, right? And while I do agree that better insulin choices, smarter pumps and way better meters have indeed made life easier in some ways, I think they’ve made it harder in others. D-Parents have so much pressure on them now that we know how to check faster, control and correct quicker and see more into what’s going on in the child with diabetes body. And who doesn’t want to be perfect at this? I mean, we’d climb through fire for our children – why wouldn’t we try to have the tightest control we possibly can?
The trick is doing it all and still finding a way to let a kid be a kid and a teen be a teen and an adult be an adult. But how? As Jo March explained to the Professor in “Little Women” about life in a home of transcendentalists: “The thing about always seeking perfection is, that comes with much self criticism.”
I wish I had an answer. But I have tried to hold onto what that endo told me so many years ago. Diabetes or not, you have to live your life. No, you cannot ignore it and yes, it overlaps everything. But if you slip a tiny bit here and there, pick yourself up, fix the situation and pat yourself on the back for getting busy just living life.
Because you know, it goes for non D-Moms too. When my youngest was a baby, we were packing for our first Christmas day at my in-laws. Because she’d been in the NICU, there were quite a few meds involved (not d related). I had to remember both kids clothes, pjs to change into, the meds, gifts for everyone and the food I was assigned to bring. As we packed the car, I asked my husband to put the snowsuit on the baby. You know how you do that on the floor and their arms are all stiff, straight out from the snowsuit? So he did that. We finished packing the car and headed on our way. About ten minutes into the drive – out on the interstate, my toddler piped up. Here is what she said:
“Mommy? Where’s the baby?”
Holy $%^&. At home, on the floor. Yep. We forgot the baby.
Happy to say said baby was smiling and watching the light on the ceiling. I thought it was hilarious. My inlaws? Not so much. But hey, you’ve gotta just pick yourself up, brush yourself off and laugh about it. Same goes with diabetes mess ups, if you ask me.
So forgive yourself. And ignore that snide syringe. In this case, his point is moot.
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