Being a mom with type 1 diabetes isn’t something I think about often because, on the average, run-of-the-mill day, diabetes doesn’t influence the way I mom. (And as the mother of two very active kids, “to mom” is definitely a verb. We don’t sit still very often.) Being pregnant with type 1 diabetes was very intense and on the forefront and dominated that experience, but after the kids were born, diabetes came off the front burner and went back to being that awkward pot on the back.
The small, almost unseen details are where diabetes affects my parenting now.
My son is not yet three, but he’s starting to notice some things are different about his mom’s body than other moms’ bodies. Like when I hold him and he uses the pump infusion site on the back of my arm like a rock wall crimp (and I almost immediately say, “Don’t pull Mom’s pump off … don’t … pull … it …”).
“That’s MOMMY’s juice, for bwoodsugars,” my toddler says, pointing to the juice box on the bedside table. “Don’t touch it,” he says again, pointing to his own chest.
Or when my pump alarms and he immediately bursts into his own parroting back of the tune. “You pump is beeping. You beeping, Mom. You have a beeps.”
I have many a beeps.
My daughter is older, newly-minted nine year old, and knows the difference between type 1 and type 2 diabetes. She is quick to educate people who need more information to understand both kinds. (She’s always been eager to share information about glucose tabs, too.)
Birdy also did a presentation at school about Frederick Banting, where she talked about the discovery of insulin, the research roles that dogs played, and the Flame of Hope in London, Ontario. “It was lit in honor of people with diabetes, and the team that discovers the cure will be flown out to extinguish the flame.” She paused. “I hope that happens soon, Mom.”
(I hope so, too.)
My kids know their mom has some robot parts and an affinity for fruit snacks whilst sweaty and shaking, but I hope that diabetes lives on the surface level for them.
The places where diabetes lurks the darkest and deepest, though, is something you can’t see at all. It’s the swirling synapses of my brain, wondering if diabetes will only affect my body or if it will ever affect my children’s physical forms. I am asked if they have diabetes, too at every single conference I have spoken at since the birth of my daughter. My response is always (thankfully) the same: “No, they don’t.” And then there’s this weird pause, where the person asking leans in a little bit, waiting for more of a response.
But I don’t have more to say. They don’t have diabetes. They know what diabetes is (or are learning). We’re just figuring parenting/kidding out as we go, making some of our strategies up on the fly. If a diagnosis hits us, we’ll wrangle it the best we can. Just like we’ll handle anything else that comes our way.
I can’t really imagine what it’s like to be a mom who doesn’t have diabetes. What do you mean, you don’t always have snacks on you? What do you mean, kids asking for an extra sippy cup doesn’t make your stomach drop, too? What do you mean, you have butter in your butter compartment hahahahaha that is not what that compartment is for?!
My ability to parent is not diminished by diabetes. My pancreas is a bit of a garbage can but the rest of me can still run headlong into parenting with all the love and care my kids deserve.