Saturday, November 9, 2013

Chronically Sick Homeschool Mama (reposted)

Reposted 07-22-2014 (Originally written November 9, 2013, during a health trial that got much worse...)

After getting a decent amount of sleep I feel a little more equal to the task of writing about what is going on in our home these days.

I am a sick mama. I’ve been trying to fight it. I’ve been trying to disguise it. I’ve been trying to outright deny it (to myself). But, the truth is, I am one sick mama.

The symptoms for which we recently expected a pituitary gland tumor were these: both ears ringing. Loudly. Since October 8th. Lactating, though it has been more than half a year since I nursed the baby. Drastic change in appetite. Terrible weight gain. Forgetfulness. Headaches. And more.

As I noted yesterday, the MRI showed absolutely no problems with my brain. This is good news, but not necessarily easy news. Hear me out… I do NOT want to have a tumor! I do not want cancer, or MS. I am NOT saying that it would be easier to be sick from any of those awful causes! But, for a few days I felt like (for the first time in eight or so years) I was justified in my sickness. You cannot possibly understand unless you too have an invisible illness like chronic fatigue, or fibromyalgia, or hypothyroid, or some other undiagnosed sickness.

For years I have battled in my own mind how to be a mama of all these kiddoes and homeschool while I am so very sick. And, yet, no one really knows how sick I am. I do not necessarily “hide it.” I flatter myself to think that I am one of the most authentic people you will ever meet. (Let that sentence in and of itself tell you of my authenticity *winks*)

Yet… I am a recovering SuperMom. I am one of that class of homeschool mamas that wants to represent the homeschool movement (and the Lord!) so well that I push myself beyond my breaking point each and every day. My body would say “sleep, rest,” and my mind would say “but the dishes aren’t done!” As though the dishes are more important than my health. To be honest, it has been as though for the last eight or so years of homeschooling, I carry a host of condemning voices with me throughout my day.

These voices (or rather ideas/notions) enslaved me as only the most brutal task master could ever do. I was/am driven to have a perfectly clean house. Driven to have the perfect diet. Driven to be the perfect mom and have the perfect kids. And, usually these condemning voices/notions came at me in the form of believers… not unbelievers. Comparing myself to the blogger mom with ten kids who appears perfect. Comparing myself to the books I read that locked me into this cage in the first place. Seeing myself (I supposed) through the eyes of Christians who choose not to homeschool and (I supposed) were always pointing fingers at me. On and on goes the list.

So, yes, I am unwell… But, I don’t think the biggest problem I am currently facing is my thyroid scores being the worst my doctor has ever seen… or my chronic vitamin D deficiency… or anemia… or adrenal fatigue.

Honestly, the biggest sickness is the one in my heart/spirit. Yes, I am a very sick woman – physically. But, there is an even bigger issue that I need to be healed from… the disease of comparison and condemnation.

Because, you see, I would feel justified being sick if I had a diagnosis of a brain tumor. I would have finally – after all these years – given myself permission to slow down. To be sick. To take time to heal. But, there is a place in my mind that is still wanting to be SuperMom. “What?!,” it says, “And admit you aren’t the perfect mom?! That you are sick?”

This will not make sense to you unless you have been there. I am writing this post to those of you who have been there… who are there.

I am done. I am done trying to be SuperMom. I REPENT of the sin of PRIDE!

I awoke from a dream this morning that I was writing for a newspaper. I was a featured writer on page two. I was brainstorming ideas what I would write about. My list was all ideas of what it really looks like to be a homeschool family… and to be a sick homeschool mama, at that. The Lord, I believe, was showing me that I have to be a herald for the truth. (Of course I am a herald for THE Truth, Jesus Christ, first and foremost!) But, I need to be a voice that is NOT adding further condemnation to mamas who are already burdened.

Lord willing, I will be a voice of one who tells you how to un-strap those burdens off your backs as I learn how to cast aside my own.

Lord willing, this blog will be better used than ever before (by me, the primary author) to exalt the Lord and help us Christian families to see ourselves as the Lord sees us.

The Father loves us. He sent Jesus to die for us. He wants to strengthen us for the journey one day at a time. We are His flock of chicks, He is the Mama Hen who gathers us under His wings. We are all brothers and sisters, as well as fellow soldiers, who need to link arms and hold each other up through the battles of this life.

There is something seriously wrong with a Christian culture that leads to mamas who feel like they can’t even be sick! And, it is not all “in my head.” I have had real life people tell me that I can keep going and do all the things that [she] thinks I was supposed to be. (You know, homeschool mama - teach three languages, teach three musical instruments, and so forth…) I have had others who told me that I am not sick at all… I just need to “overcome” and press on.

Sick Mamas, we WILL overcome! But, overcoming might mean that in your sickness you learn to tame your tongue, you learn to let yourself be sick, you learn to be patient and content in all circumstances while the Lord is at work to conform you into the image of His Son while you participate in a small sampling of His sufferings. You WILL overcome. We WILL be more than conquerors. But, that might mean that you will remain in your sickness a bit longer while the Lord does His Perfect Work in your life.

For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory which shall be revealed in us. Romans 8:18 (NKJV)

1 comment:

Ruby said...

Bethany, I grieve for you that you have faced your illness alone. I have been chronically ill for the whole 21 years of homeschooling. It has been unrelenting, as you express. But I have been surrounded, not by condemnation but by encouragement. Family and friends have been nothing but supportive, in their uplifting words and in many practical ways.
I cannot number the meals delivered when I have been either in hospital or in bed at home. I cannot number the hours of house cleaning and childcare graciously given to me. I feel there is something wrong with your community that you should be left feeling so isolated :-( Perhaps your "Supermum" persona has made people feel unable to help.
Your post has left me feeling greatly blessed. My kidney function is dangerously close to needing dialysis. I ask God to just give me enough time to see my boys through school. Yet, I know, that should that not be possible we are not alone.
When all else fails....Christ never fails. He is our only hope and confidence.