Friday, June 28, 2013

Parents Are Human Too

While celebrating my son's birthday recently, he asked me once again what it was like the day he was born.
I think every child likes to reminisce about the day of their birth and what everyone was doing as they were arriving into the world.  His questions about how long I was in labor, what was happening in the hospital and what Daddy was doing were expected.
But that conversation evolved into a bittersweet conversation about his Dad and some of the frustrating health issues he had before his death.  His Dad (my husband) was diabetic and injected insulin.  He was not overweight.  He developed diabetes later in life and controlled his diabetes with pills for a number of years but then was hospitalized with acute pneumonia which caused his sugar levels to go out of control.  Injecting insulin was the only way the doctors could stabilize his sugar count.
Too put it mildly, diabetes and my husband were not a good match at all.  I know of two people who are diabetic and both inject insulin.  They are religious about checking their blood sugar, eating well and exercising on a regular basis.  These were not things my husband did on a regular basis or even wanted to do daily.
His pills would sit on the table, he would go for hours without testing his blood sugar, he would eat desserts and he would drink alcohol.  Don't get me wrong.  I loved my husband desperately but there were times when I felt I was fighting harder for his health than he was.  I will give him credit for the efforts that he did make for short periods of time when he would try to change his habits but then it would become too much and he would let it all slide again.

Our son remembers the arguments about diet and exercise and medicine and I know that this created anxiety.  I don't particularly enjoy answering these questions from my son but I'm also not going to hide the truth from him and run away from the reality of our situation.  Going back in our memories to those times is painful and we truly tried to make things easier for him because we knew he was sick but in the end it wasn't enough.
It is very hard to explain to a child that their parent is not all that they think they are or want them to be.  You want to think and talk only about the good times but that's not life.  We have to learn to take the good with the bad. 

We're all human.  We make mistakes.  Our hearts are in the right place and so are our intentions but we don't always carry through on our goals.  I've had my share of screw-ups but I'm still here so my son can argue with me when he is annoyed or angry at something I've done.  His Dad isn't here and he can't talk to him or confront him with his issues and that creates pain and sometimes anger.

Give yourself and others permission to feel and talk about these conflicted emotions.  In the end, I think it's okay to love someone but still be angry at them for some of the choices they made while they were with you. 

It's their actions that we don't like because our love for the person is still there.  Always.

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