Court Rundell

On Being a Mom with Chronic Illnesses

Me & my little man on our only summer vacation before my flare-up hit.

I’m having an Epstein-Barr flare-up and I cancelled a cub scouts camping trip my son, husband and I had scheduled for last weekend. I was absolutley devastated.

I parked my tiny SUV, Frankie – my amazing all-wheel drive Nissan Juke purchased solely for future rad mountainy, activity-filled, supermommy expeditions – turned around and patted my 7-year-old son on the knee. I braced for impact.

“Buddy, Mommy is too sick to camp so I cancelled our trip. I’m so sorry.”


He was completely unphased.

“But I’m going to text your BFF’s mom and see if we can have a playdate or maybe a sleepover instead.”

“That would be way funner than camping! Cool!”

After a grammatical correction and a big kiss, I dropped him off at day camp, got back in my car and burst into tears.

I felt like a failure as a mother. It could take another year or more to go into remission and even be able to exercise. He just turned 8. I’m missing his prime years while he still wants to be with me.

He was fine. No biggie. I, on the other hand, was devastated.

I went back home and crawled into my office/bed and started working – I’ve been freelance bookkeeping since Morgan was born. There’s no way I could work in an office in my present condition so it’s really a Godsend.

I started to cry again and then it hit me. Morgan was fine. I was fucked up. See, I’m a really good mom. We have a blast together. We laugh all the time. I teach him super important life lessons and we rock out, hard. He’s never been hit and VERY rarely has been yelled at and, bottom line, the kid knows he’s loved.

My tears weren’t about him. They weren’t even about the camping trip. They were about me having to give up the dream of the mom I want to be. The mom I expect myself to be. The athletic, physically strong, active mom I envisioned when we signed up for cub scouts.

And the truth – I promise I will always tell you the truth – is I haven’t been consistently physically strong since before my pregnancy. Four years of postpartum depression and 2 rounds of TMS put a toll on my body, not to mention my brain. Not to mention the undiagnosed Chronic Epstein-Barr I’ve had my whole life giving me chronic fatigue.

I’m a great mom. I’m a human mom. I’m a mom who models self-care for my child so hopefully he won’t push through and hurt himself like I have most of my life.

It’s okay to meet us where we are. Being a mom with chronic illness is really fucking hard sometimes, but I don’t have to make it harder by placing impossible expectations on myself.

At least for today.

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