Jen: Be Nice to Yourself -- Being a Pancreas Is Hard!

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Mamas of kids with type 1 diabetes, we need to do a better job of acknowledging the amazing thing that we do every day. We essentially pinch hit for a bodily organ (the pancreas) that has decided to stop functioning properly in our children. This is no small task, and one thing that I've seen over and over with myself and with my friends who have kids with diabetes, is that over time we tend to forget how awesome and amazing this truly is!

I've noticed that when I tell others about myself and "what I do," I tend to mention my children, my work projects, and my charity work, but I don't ever acknowledge that I also do a good deal of work as a pancreas! I think that as we adjust to life with a child with type 1 diabetes, diabetes care becomes "our new normal." We forget that our friends aren't up at midnight and 3 a.m. when we may be checking blood sugar. That they don't count every carb that ever enters their 7-year-old's mouth. They don't have to go to four extra doctor's appointments per year, and they don't prick and poke their children all day long! These things take time, and because they've become habit, we tend to forget how much extra work they really are. It also can be a considerable source of daily stress. What we do is very important and very serious.

While I always stress the importance of remaining positive and seeing the blessings that a modern diagnosis of type 1 diabetes brings to the lives of our children, I think the counterpoint is to remember that it isn't necessarily easy and it can be both time-consuming and stressful.

I'm certainly not advocating ruminating more on the more negative aspects of diabetes management care for our kids, rather that we need to give ourselves adequate credit for the things we do for them. We need to be nice to ourselves and realize that it is okay to lower our standards a little bit sometimes in other areas as a result. What we do is important and wonderful. If that means that my meals are a little bit less creative than my neighbor's, well, that's the way it goes. But I'm working as a pancreas for my son! If my house is a little less clean than Mom's house used to be when I was growing up, well, that's okay -- I'm taking care of a great kid with tremendous potential!

We need to do a better job of being nice to ourselves and looking at what we've accomplished in our beautiful kids with diabetes who are thriving and following their hopes and dreams. We can take great pride in knowing that their very exuberance is due in no small measure to the quiet, behind-the-scenes work that we do managing their type 1 diabetes every day.

 

About the author: My name is Jennifer, and I live in Southern California with my husband, Craig, and our three boys. Our oldest son James has been diagnosed with type 1 diabetes. I’m thankful for this opportunity -- along with my sister-in-law Kim and her daughter Kaitlyn, who also has type 1 diabetes -- to share our struggles and triumphs with our friends in the diabetes community.

Disclaimer: The experiences and suggestions recounted in these articles are not intended as medical advice, and they are not necessarily the "typical" experiences of families with a child who has type 1 diabetes. These situations are unique to the families depicted. Families should check with their healthcare professionals regarding the treatment of type 1 diabetes and the frequency of blood glucose monitoring. Jen and Kim are real moms of kids with type 1 diabetes and have been compensated for their contributions to this site.

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