Instagram, Pinterest, Facebook and blogging sites are full of them; smiling moms in pretty outfits, sitting in lovely homes, cooking healthy recipes and raising wonderful kids. Some even have a multitude of kids or special needs children, and some have started successful businesses or written best-selling books. These women are phenomenal and they deserve all their success.
And then, there are the OTHER mothers. Moms who dress in whatever happens to be reasonably clean and easy to put on. Moms whose homes are filled with “I meant to” piles or “I wish I could” lists. Moms who find it hard to brush their teeth, much less write a book. There are few accolades for these moms whose biggest triumph in a day may be taking a shower.
September 28th – October 4th is Invisible Illness Week.
I only know this because I am one of these OTHER mothers; moms who battle disease every day. From depression to diabetes, MS to Meniere’s, from migraines and thyroid disease to lupus, there are thousands of diseases that get in the way of moms performing even the most basic tasks (much less do anything extra).
I have interviewed superstar moms and they will be the first to tell you that they are driven and find it hard to rest. They run from morning to night until their husbands beg them to sit down. This is the way they are wired and they are living their dreams.
What people don’t realize is that moms with invisible illnesses are not living their dreams. They ache with the desire to run like the “normal” moms. They don’t want their houses to be messy. They do want to feed their families healthy meals. They want to volunteer at school and bake cookies and maybe even write a book. They have dreams and goals, but instead they struggle to make it through each day.
Perhaps the saddest part is that from the outside they look “normal” and so most people assume that they are simply lazy. Nothing could be further from the truth. These women with the dust balls rolling across their floors and the crumpled to-go containers filling their garbage cans are my heroes. They fight battles the world will never understand. They ache with dreams that will never be realized. And, they struggle to be the best moms they can be in spite of their disabilities.
There are few social media sites or book deals that celebrate shaving your legs for the first time in a month. No one is clapping when you manage to empty your dishwasher. And, no one wants to see pictures of the gargantuan dust bunnies that have collected under your bed.
Often, the only support the OTHER mothers get is from websites dedicated to their particular disease. It is refreshing to find a place where you are understood, but it is also kind of isolating. What about the rest of the world? How beautiful it would be if we could find understanding in other places too.
So, while looking at all the beautiful pictures on Instagram and Pinterest, remember these OTHER mothers. They deserve accolades and respect perhaps even more than the social media darlings. For they fight battles no one ever sees.