The Challenge of Battling Mom Guilt When You Have Fibro

Mom guilt is rearing its ugly face again.  No matter how much better I think I feel, there’s always something in the past that I didn’t do that will come back to bite me in the ass.

We went to the dentist today.  My daughter and I had our teeth cleaned.  I went in feeling proud that I was getting it done rather than continuing to blow it off because I didn’t feel well.  The pride didn’t last long.  My teeth were ok.  I don’t know why, but I have really strong enamel or something.  I’ve had 2 cavities my entire life and they were both last year.  I still don’t floss like I should, but at least I didn’t have cavities.

My little girl, on the other hand, had 2 cavities.  I immediately felt so ashamed.  She is only 7 and at her age, oral hygiene is up to me.  There have been, and still are, so many days when I know I should have her brush her teeth before bed, but I am so exhausted and opt to just let her go to bed so I can pass out.  It’s a small task that takes two minutes.  Sadly, when I don’t feel well, those 2 minutes are precious.  My daughter didn’t care about the cavities.  All she cared about was picking a toy out of the treasure box.  As soon as the dentist showed me her cavity, I was mortified.  I could literally see the little brown area in the back of her mouth as soon as she opened it up.  What was I supposed to say?  I just smiled and assured the dentist that we would do a better job brushing.

The guilt hit me big time.  I know the dentist is no fool.  He knows that little kids should be taught oral hygiene by their parents.  I immediately imagined what he must be thinking.  Did he think I was a bad mom?  I thought of all of those times when she was a toddler and I still hadn’t grown accustomed to living with fibromyalgia.  I hadn’t figured out which medications worked for me.  I would literally cry every day because I was in so much pain.  I was lucky if I was able to pull myself together long enough to prepare something to eat for dinner.  The 2 minutes of energy that I had left would usually be spent throwing clothes in the washer so they kids would have something clean to wear the next day.  It seems like such a small thing to have your kids brush your teeth, but if you don’t live with fibromyalgia, you can’t imagine feeling so badly that you wonder if you even want to be alive.

So here we are a couple of years later.  I just won the award for worst mother of the year.  I walked out with my head down, embarrassed that I haven’t done a better job.  I never imagined I would be that mom.  I can’t even begin to describe the feeling of failing my own kids.  Making mistakes that have consequences for me is one thing, but doing something that causes my kids to suffer is an entirely different beast.

I stop and wonder, what else have I failed at?  What other tasks did I blow off in the midst of a flare?  What can I do to prevent my kids from having to live with my mistakes?  I’m mortified at the thought the future and other slip-ups that will transpire.

This is when I stop and give myself a pep talk.  What’s done is done.  I can’t go back in time.  I have to keep moving forward.  So I made some mistakes.  I have to learn from them.  I don’t know why I have fibro.  All I know is that it’s not my fault.  No matter the amount of guilt or shame that I feel, I’m still going to have fibro.  The important thing now is that I’ve learned to manage the symptoms of fibro and I’m taking charge.  I’m taking control of my life and trying to be the mom that I want to be.  I can only imagine how other parents with fibro handle these things.  Do they feel bad when their kids get cavities?

Oh well, right?  It’s a hard lesson learned, even though it is one that I already knew.  If you are that person, you know the one who is living with fibro and trying to raise kids as well?  Do your best and keep moving forward.  If you make a mistake, or a few, along the way, I hope you can take comfort in the fact that somewhere out there is a mom who is going through the same thing.

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