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.
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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