In order to understand the dynamics of our family, you need to know a little bit about our history. We just had a beautiful baby girl. Craig and I and our three boys were really excited about her. (And for the record, even if this baby had been a boy we would have been really over the moon. I LOVE being a mom to boys!) We absolutely knew that this would mean that our family, already crazy busy in many respects, would get even busier and crazier.
Our journey turned out to be more complicated than we had ever envisioned. First, little Lucy spent five days in the NICU. She finally went home, and the whole family celebrated -- for exactly one day. I spent the next two days in and out of emergency rooms due to complications from my C-section. I share this information just as a way to clue you in to what our life looks like right now.
And it looks … messy. Specifically, our house is really messy. I make a nominal effort to clean up the living room every day and keep the dishes and clothing of our family clean. Craig is the champion who ensures that our bathrooms are livable and floors are crumb-free. Everything else is a giant mess. We are not cooking from scratch these days. More often than I’d like to admit, this means that we eat something odd for dinner like whole wheat toaster waffles, clementines, and quinoa. Hey, it’s a healthy if unappealing combination to most of the adult population, but kids always love those meals.
It’s times like these that you start to realize what you really DO during the day. In case you ever think your effort wouldn’t be missed, try actually NOT doing the things you think aren’t all that significant. You might be surprised by the stupendous mess created. So what things are important? What do you continue to do in the midst of a small family crisis? This is what we’ve discovered:
People still need to eat. But it doesn’t have to be fancy. We had help at first, with friends bringing in meals. I also did a lot of precooked meals and occasionally takeout! I think it’s worth it to at least try to make the meals moderately healthy.
People need clean clothes. I’ve been running loads of laundry throughout my recovery, with lots of help from James, actually. I’ve learned that people DON’T need clothes to be folded and put away. At least our family does not. I discovered this when I realized at one point that my clean laundry pile had gotten much, much smaller all on its own. Mount Washmore was receding, because kids and grownups were plucking clean clothing from it, bypassing closets and dressers altogether.
Finally, people need to stay alive. My 2-year-old needs to stay away from bunk beds. And James still needs to test his blood sugar before meals, count his carbs, dose his insulin, and change out his pump site and sensor. James performs much of that care now, with supervision. I won’t lie: It is convenient. I still need to follow up with him, though, and make sure these necessities are taken care of properly. By cutting out many of the nonessential duties in my life, I’ve been able to take care of him even in the early and painful days of my recovery. Like Kim mentioned, diabetes comes first. It really does, and it helps us to stay focused on what really matters.
In a lot of ways, this period of craziness reminds me of those early days when James was first diagnosed with type 1 diabetes. We felt exhausted, overwhelmed and consumed with just taking care of the essentials. We let the little things go, concentrated on just “keeping everyone alive” and considered that to be good enough.
So, we’ve mostly made it through at this point! We kept our sense of humor. We cut out the nonessentials. We dealt with the mess and made do with less-than-perfect meals. AND we stuck to the most important tasks at hand. We’re all still alive, and I’m almost recovered. Just don’t look at the kids’ rooms.
About the author: My name is Jennifer, and I live in Southern California with my husband, Craig, and our four children. 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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