Mother Bear: A guest post from my mom

Mother’s Day is coming up this weekend and while I’m not a mother, I do have one! I asked my own mom to write a guest post because I cannot imagine what it’s like to be mother to someone with diabetes.


Motherhood changes everything.  When I became a mother, I realized for the first time that I would give up my life for another person without a second thought. This is not a bad thing. We all come into the world completely helpless and luckily for us, there’s Mom, armed with a powerful instinct to protect us when we’re so vulnerable.

What many people don’t realize is that for some mothers, this emotion never completely goes away.  It can, in fact, increase.

Watch Out for Mother Bear

Having a grown daughter with type 1 diabetes brings out the “mother bear” in me like nothing else. I want to protect her at all times and I want to make this disease go away for good. Of course I can’t do either of those things.

My role is to be as supportive as possible – I can’t be the one making the decisions. This is kind of like being a spectator at a sport I’d rather be playing instead of watching: I cheer my team on, but sometimes I yell at the players and argue with the referee.

How Do You Say “Diabetes” in Japanese?

I am good at cheering. One night during her last year of college, Dayle called to tell me that she had been accepted into a program for teaching English in Japan. She was very excited and I responded appropriately: “This is great!” “What an adventure!” “I’m so proud!”

The minute I got off the phone I burst into tears. Japan? What do they know about type 1 diabetes in Japan? How will she even talk to a doctor? Who will be there for her if her blood glucose plummets and she’s too low to realize it?

Dayle moved to Japan and undoubtedly counts this as one of the most important experiences of her life. When I visited her, it was a memorable experience – but my lasting impression of her life there does not come from my trip. It comes from her own description of waking up in the emergency room after a hypoglycemic episode from which she could not wake up. I have a strong “memory” of something I never even witnessed.

Hey Ref – What do you think you’re doing!?

Maybe really good mothers always stay in the cheering section and never jump out of the stands to yell at the players or curse the ref, but I’m not one of them.

When Dayle decided to move to her own apartment without a roommate, my response was not warm and fuzzy. I was stunned at what I considered her stubbornness, her lack of concern for the risks she would be taking, and her total disregard for the worry she would cause her family.

I pushed back hard out of fear and found myself in the middle of a brawl. When this happens on a basketball court or a hockey rink, players and spectators get hurt – and we were no exception.

I finally crawled back to the stands and resumed watching and cheering. This is life with adult children: they make the decisions; Mom does not. I really wouldn’t want it any other way and I’m proud to have children who are able to do what they believe is right, regardless of what their parents may think. I just wish the stakes weren’t so high.

Back in the Stands

I am used to being a spectator. Dayle was diagnosed at age 19 – practically an adult – and for ten years has taken full responsibility for managing her disease. I try to imagine caring for a young child with diabetes and then making the inevitable transition to an adult child with diabetes who makes her own decisions. My hat is off to those who do this gracefully. I have the feeling that if it were me, I’d have one too many brawls, and find myself banned from the stadium for the rest of the season.

The wonderful thing about Dayle is that she understands this and does her best to accommodate my “mother bear” side. She updates me on endocrinologist appointments, A1C results and even the scary low blood glucose moments. She has emailed me photos of her CGM to reassure me that her blood glucose has been even. She anticipates my questions before I even get around to asking them.

When she sees that I’m about to roar down to the field to argue with the ref, she smiles and waves me back. She’s got it covered. I know that, and she knows that.

And one of these days my “mother bear” side will know it too.


Thanks to Mom for writing this, for sharing the emotional side, and for always cheering me along. Words will never be able to fully cover the immense appreciation I have for my mom (or “mother bear”).

What are you doing for the mothers in your life this Mother’s Day? Why not send flowers that also support the Stop Diabetes® movement? Right now, you can send flowers and a $20 donation will be made to the American Diabetes Association! Click here for details.

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8 Responses to Mother Bear: A guest post from my mom

  1. Nicole Broome says:

    Thanks for sharing this Dayle’s mother! I was dfiagnosed at 24 (I’m 46 now) and I know my mom has also had many worries over the years. She has also been a fantastic support for me and has always let me live my life which has included trips to remote places such as Tibet. I now have retinopathy and frequent laser thereapy as well as a vitrectomy. I think all diabetics tend to think that they will be immune from the complications of diabetes. Many of us only really start taking control seriously when the side effects kick in. Dayle you sound very mature and well done for handling your diabetes so well.

  2. Amanda says:

    Thanks for sharing this! I actually just forwarded my mom the link. I was diganosed at 20 (now 24) and my mom doesn’t live close. I always get wraped up in why everyone is constantly asking what my blood sugar has been running, and tend to get defensive. I feel like it is something I live with on a daily basis. Its easy to forget how it truly influences everyone around you. I appreciate your moms kind words and honesty! Thanks for sharing!

  3. Shawn McIntosh says:

    I am sending this link to my 18 year old son who is just now making that transition. He just finished his first year at college, and the year was very difficult for all of us. I can completely relate to the mother bear analogy, and hope that reading about another mother who feels the same way will help him to see that it’s natural instinct. I can’t help worrying about him. Thank you for sharing this!

  4. Halima says:

    I send this to my son who just turned 12 years old, he was diagnosed with type1 when he’s 10 and he still had that feeling of ” it’s difficult to live with diabetes” and we still struggling a lots, but I’m always to his side supporting him, and just at this moment now he is at th ER, because his blood sugar is to high when he wak up this morning and the Ketones was high too, I ask God to save my son and anyone who had a daughter or son with diabetes

  5. Sue Whittier says:

    When I read this post I was thinking of my Mom who has been a support for – well it’s now 58+ years – yes she’s an octogenarian and still ticking! Hats off to Mom’s like this. She certainly has put up with a lot I’d say – but the most important thing she ever did for me was to let me go – live life as it unfolded in front of me -it’s a good thing I learned quickly – I’ve had a few harrowing situations along the way thatnaffected the diabetes – all came out rosy. After several MD decisions that as it turns out were wrong [who ever believes a patient?] , I now rely on family support more than I’d like – Mom always want’s to be there. So I too salute all the ‘mother bears’ out there – your children- regardless of the ‘diabetic’s mood’ -really do respect / appreciate the support you’ve given over the years.

  6. Eric says:

    Thanks for your thoughts. As the father of a recently diagnosed diabetes type 1 young adult son, I find myself terrified for his future, awed by his strength, amazed at his not wanting it to be a big deal, proud of his determination to get on with his life and guilt that I cannot protect him. Now the truth is I never could protect him from all kinds of things, we were just lucky. Having deluded myself for 22 into thinking I had successfully kept him safe, I have to confront the reality that this beautiful world has dangers from which I cannot protect him.

  7. Elsie says:

    Enjoyed reading this posting. My nephew was diagnosed at 13 years, now 17. He appears so grown up about it, but I worry so much about him especially now that he is a teenager. He has had quite a few hypos – scary. Working with him presently to get his levels right.

  8. Jan smiith says:

    My son was 10 when diagnosed with type 1 – now 32 he is a nurse and head of the diabetic clinic in our county- the mama bear is very proud!!!

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