Mother’s Day: The language of loud sighs and quiet tears

May 7, 2024

It’s been a week, and it’s only Wednesday.

It feels like there are 4,567 days of school left in this school year, but, in reality, we only have 8 days left until summer break.

We’ve dealt with the unexpected “combo meal” of food poisoning and diabetes.

A potential teenage suitor made a negative comment about my daughter’s diabetes and her twin brother’s autism all under the guise of flirting and an apparent lack of awareness that words can truly hurt.

A mom and I got into a disagreement about our parenting styles, and a great friendship was halted before it even had a chance to start. This one might have hurt the worst.

It’s the preamble to Mother’s Day and I’m feeling the weight of it all. All of the things. All of the time.

I’m in the “fake it until you make it” phase of life right now, and I’ve never been more aware of the fact that no matter how we decide to “mother,” it’s going to be the right way because we are doing the very best that we can despite what life throws our way.

Is this the worst that it has been in my “mothering” era? Absolutely not. There have been harder days and even harder nights that made me wonder if we would even make it to watch the clock change at the turn of the hour. Is it hard now? Yes. Can we get through this? Even more YES.

During my week that has lasted forever, I’ve talked with other moms. I actually talked with them on the phone! I heard their voices and I listened to them speak a language that I am so familiar with…the language of loud sighs and quiet tears. These moms have struggled with school accommodations and childhood friendships and budding relationship drama. They are doing the very best that they can, and they wondered if they were doing enough.

As I sipped my Diet Coke during our calls, I felt tears run down my own face because I knew exactly how they felt. Are any of us doing enough? Why does it have to be so hard for our kids with diabetes (and for our kids without diabetes)? When are we going to get a break? When will things be “normal” for our partners and spouses? Who is going to help the mothers who often feel like it is our responsibility to hold this whole “thing” together?

And, then I thought about that mom. The mom who doesn’t want to get to know me because we parent differently. I thought about how sad that makes me that our parenting philosophy was so different that our kids couldn’t explore their own friendship or relationship or situationship. This mom doesn’t know diabetes. She doesn’t know that for the last 12 years I’ve slept with one eye open each night because I am so afraid that my daughter will have a low blood sugar and not wake up the next morning. She doesn’t know that when she was three years old that her dad and I used to physically sit on top of her body every three days to do a site change because she was so afraid of needles and things that poked. She doesn’t know how a softball umpire told her to “take that thing off of her belt” (her insulin pump) because they weren’t allowed to wear anything on their uniforms during a game. She doesn’t know about the disordered eating and things that are even worse that I am not ready to talk about at this time. She doesn’t know how that at every single obstacle that my daughter has faced, she’s emerged on the other side stronger and more resilient. She didn’t allow us the opportunity to show her our hearts and make her part of our family. And, what’s even the most disappointing is that she doesn’t know about you…the diabetes community that supports us and lifts us up from near and far. She doesn’t know about our tribe and the bond that we have, even if we’ve never met in person. She doesn’t know about our beeps or our juice boxes or Friends for Life. And, now she won’t have this opportunity because “we are different.”

I would agree with her on one point, we are different. All of us. Those of us who parent human kids or fur kids. Those of us who haven’t had the opportunity to parent because of fertility issues or child loss. Those of us who have chosen not to have kids but love others’ kids as their own. We are different and that’s what makes us amazing. Who wants to be surrounded by people exactly like you all of the time?

This week has been hard. It’s not going to be the end of the hard weeks, though. There will be more in the future and I am already steadying myself for what is next. I’m listening to Taylor Swift and performing concerts in my own home. I am working with our CWD team on creating the most amazing Friends for Life conference yet. I am making my daughter “chickles” because she saw a “good recipe on TikTok.” I’m restocking the pantry full of snacks because summer is coming and so are the kids who will crash at our house because this is their safe space.

I am doing all of the things…because I am a mother. It’s the hardest job that I’ve ever had and the one that I am the most thankful for every sleepless day of my life. I am so glad that I am able to be on this journey with all of you. Here’s to the next CGM beep, prescription refill, school dance, and everything in between.

Happy Mother’s Day.

Green and Orange Forever,

Written by Leigh Fickling, JD, MEd, MS