Sometimes chronic illness throws you a curveball. Maybe it’s a new symptom, or an embarrassing moment of the kind you hope someday you’ll laugh about. Maybe it’s a flare-up or relapse. One thing is for certain, and that is that nothing is ever certain.
After a long stretch of relative wellness, this month threw me one such curveball. I experienced a relapse of a magnitude that I haven’t encountered since I was first sick, and it has landed me squarely on my back.
After an especially difficult day, my teenage son offered to cook supper so that I could rest. I gratefully took him up on the offer and curled myself up on the couch. I closed my eyes and willed my body to recover, which of course never works. He hummed to himself in the kitchen as he sauteed meat and chopped vegetables.
My husband came home from work and sat down at the kitchen counter. My daughter stood at one end of the island, telling a story about her day with animated gestures and laughter. I was missing out.
I took a deep breath and wandered into the kitchen. I picked up a wooden spoon and began to stir the food simmering on the stove as I listened to the conversations. My legs ached, but I couldn’t bring myself to miss out on this little window of family time.
“Wait, Mom,” my son held up a hand. He reached for one of the tall stools tucked under the counter, and set it down in front of the stove. He smiled as I took the seat, then went back to shredding a block of cheese.
From across the room, my husband snapped a picture of us working side by side.
This is what it means to parent with a chronic illness. Sometimes it means missing out, yes. But sometimes it means finding a way to be a part of things. Sometimes it means making lemonade from lemons–or making supper, anyway.