It sounds so cliché, but it's true, you don't truly appreciate your parents until you become a parent yourself. In the last six months my understanding of what parenthood entails has grown tremendously.
While chatting with my mom the other day, I started thinking about how she must have felt when I was diagnosed with type 1 diabetes at the age of thirteen. Looking at little Sienna, I now have an appreciation for how devastating it would be to have my sweet daughter diagnosed with a chronic medical condition. (Read Kelsey's Post "Sienna's Growing Up" for an update on her daughter with pictures!)
Remembering back to the first few months after my diagnosis, I now realize that I didn't really allow my mom to help me adjust to life with diabetes. My dad's approach to dealing with my diabetes was to empower me to handle it independently. Being a fairly self-sufficient teenager, I was eager to assert myself and not lean too heavily on my parents. However, in hindsight, I realize that at 13 years old, I could have used some support while I sat on my bed with the lancet against my finger for over 20 minutes before I had the courage to press the button!
Because of our family dynamics and my desire to "Do it myself" I can now see that my mom never got to express her personal sadness, fear, or anger about her daughter's diabetes. As a mom, I know that she had all of those feelings. However, she suppressed them publically and focused on supporting me.
I feel badly for the times when I was irresponsible with my diabetes. I have an entirely new point of view on how my mom must have felt when I took unnecessary risks during my teenage years and early twenties. The instinct to protect your children lasts their entire life; it doesn't end when they leave home and start lives of their own.
In the past, I have often dismissed my mom's attempts to nurture me as an adult. I suppose I felt the need to assert myself as an individual and then as a wife and homemaker. But, as I reflect on the role of motherhood, I find myself letting my mom take care of me even now, because hopefully Sienna will allow me to support and nurture her long after she's grown up.
It's quite liberating to let go of that need to always be strong, independent, and self-sufficient. Allowing someone else to "take care of me" whether it is in tangible or intangible ways is a great comfort. We've been so blessed to have my mom- aka "GaGa" watch Sienna once I returned to work. She loves her granddaughter and they both have so much fun playing together. I've been equally blessed to have my mom around for me during these early months of motherhood. While we're usually focused entirely on Sienna, she says and does little things to let me know that my needs are also valuable.
Because my mom still nurtures me, I can fully embrace my role as a mom to Sienna and put my child's needs first, just like my mom always has.
Read more abotu how motherhood has changed Kelsey's perspectives on diabetes and diabetes management:
Published On: July 24, 2008