Mother's Day is around the corner and we hope that all of our moms in the EB community will enjoy a beautiful and relaxing day filled with whatever will help refresh and rejuvenate them most. In my job as well as my involvement with debra, I meet up with EB families all the time, and I know personally how challenging being a parent can be let alone a parent to a child diagnosed with EB. So although this blog may be geared toward our moms out there because of the time of year, I certainly empathize with our patient, hard-working EB dads, too.
It can be very easy as a mom and a caregiver to overlook our own needs. We always hear people who share stress management strategies say to follow the example in an airplane emergency and put on our oxygen mask first before we assist our loved ones, but how many of us actually remember to do this? We want to share some reminders at this time honoring the love, patience and care of mothers everywhere but especially here in the EB community.
Be willing to ask for help. Many of us are taught as children to become self-sufficient. Some of us may have grown up needing to be more independent more quickly due to single-parent homes or dual-income households where both parents work outside of the home, and as we grow older, we can become accustomed fending for ourselves. However, when challenges arise as a parent, we must remember: we are not alone. If our time, energy or skills are exhausted and others brought into the home could alleviate some of the stresses of care giving for a child with special care needs, such as the demands of EB, we will want to release any resistance we may have to bring others into our circle and ask for additional support. This may be to hire a part-time caregiver or someone to assist us with managing other duties in our household so we are not trying to wear too many hats at one time and putting ourselves under unmanageable pressure.
Build downtime into your schedule, whether it is a 20-minute date with yourself to do something solitary and peaceful like meditation or yoga, or simply going for a walk when another member of the household can relieve you of care giving responsibilities for a brief timeframe. Stepping away even for a small period of time can offer you time to collect your thoughts and replenish your energy, and that also translates into your mood as you resume caring for your child.
Seek resources that offer the safety, comfort and discretion you need to discuss your challenges and receive feedback and support. Giving yourself permission to share the stresses and challenges you face on a daily basis with a local caregiver support group, a licensed counselor, an online forum, family friend, or clergy member with whom you feel you can trust can provide valuable opportunities to vent frustration and possibly take away alternatives as you try to deal with difficulties you face.
- Accept your humanity and forgive yourself. As parents, we are not always going to get everything right and for a lot of us, we will make mistakes along the way but each mistake comes with an important lesson we absorb and in the process, we learn more about ourselves — our strengths, our weaknesses, our capabilities and our limitations. As long as we are willing to admit this and be prepared to learn, adapt and keep plugging along, the next challenge will be that much easier to face and tackle.
Being a parent is never easy, and we salute all of you but particularly our moms in the EB community today as this Sunday serves as a reminder for all you do. Let the loved ones in your life honor you, but don't forget to honor yourself by giving your own mind, heart and body precisely what they need to help you continue being the caring, loving and amazing moms you are.