When we gather as a group of mothers and talk about our experiences parenting kids in pain it is common for one of us to cry.
It’s wonderful and welcome for some honest emotion to be on show. Everyone can relate to why this parent feels sad or overwhelmed – we have all felt the same at times.
There are another sort of tears that come from what I call ouch moments. These tears fall like a tropical storm – enormous splashes with each drop.
They come from the recollection of times when something small happens and it pierces our coping and shoots straight into the heart.
Once my daughter was in a very painful flare up time and her school musical was on. The stage was full of dancing, singing, smiling shiny teenagers. My daughter sat to the side of the stage looking tiny and ghostly pale.
I felt overwhelmed with envy for health and normality of the other kids. These feelings took me away from how gutsy my kid had to be just to show up that day. It was awful jumble of feelings.
Sometimes ouch moments can be brought on by a few innocent words. Once someone was showing us over equipment at the Independant Living Centre. As we walked past the wheelchairs she said, “oh you don’t need those yet”.
The word “yet” ricocheted around my head to such an extent that I struggled to find my way out of the car park. (Our specialist later said he felt it was unlikely that my daughter would need a wheel chair.)
Ouch moments can be accompanied by all manner of difficult emotions – envy, fear, shame, embarassment, rage and feelings of competitiveness can all show up.
We all go out into life wanting everything to be perfect for our kids and when it isn’t, well it hurts like hell. The hurt is felt in little tiny windows of pain.
That’s why getting together with other parents is so helpful. Sharing ouch moments can normalise and neutralise very difficult feelings. The tears then become a spring of joy and laughter.
If you are feeling too sad and the hurt is too raw to talk to other parents maybe a counsellor could help with some of this heavy lifting.
Then perhaps later you will find yourself friends who understand what it is like to parent a kid in pain and you will feel joy again.