Ever have a period of your life where you felt completely overwhelmed? Of course you have! Haven’t we all? It was during just one such period of time that I learned — the hard way — to relax some of those obligations.
It was shortly after Christmas last year. Coming off the holiday season, I think many of us are already frazzled. Added to my plate were responsibilities at a part-time job, some deadlines and obligations related to some writing projects, a huge homeschooling project, some hefty responsibilities through a church service group, and a few friends who were dealing with some very serious life situations and needed either my support or my time or both. This is on top of the normal responsibilities of caring for two young boys, managing a household and, of course, taking care of James’ type 1 diabetes!
Part of what was truly difficult was that I felt like all the things on my plate were really important and I couldn’t afford to drop any of them. But I could also tell that it was too much, and I was starting to wake up every morning with a sense of dread in the pit of my stomach.
Then, to further increase my stress load, both kids came down with a killer flu. James was extremely sick, and when you also happen to have diabetes, the flu can be really serious! Luckily, he avoided dangerously high ketones, although managing his blood sugar was seriously complicated.
After a week or two of watching sick kids around the clock, you can probably guess what happened next. I got sick! And the flu was as bad as the kids were telling me. I had a burning fever for days. I literally could barely get up and walk to get a glass of water. I would collapse into a heap and fall asleep at any given hour of the day. It was bad.
So bad, in fact, that very soon I had to cancel nearly all of my obligations. It was simply impossible to do any of the things that were deemed so important to me just the week before. I had to call my boss and explain my predicament, get a deadline extension for my writing, drop my charity work for a period of time and let my friends know that I’d pray for them but couldn’t do much else.
I couldn’t stop everything, of course. I was still alone with the boys during the day while Craig was at work. They needed to eat (although they didn’t eat much!). They needed a responsible adult to make sure they were clean and safe. And James’ diabetes did not go away merely because I was sick.
So I took care of the basics, and the rest of my responsibilities faded away into nothing. This continued for about two and half weeks when finally, I woke up one morning to sunlight flooding through my bedroom window. And the sunlight made me smile, and I felt happy — for what I realized was the first time in almost two months. Long before the flu got me down, I had been so overworked and overtaxed that it was hard to smile at the sunlight! Somehow, succumbing to the flu had done what nothing else seemed to be able to do. It helped me to regain my sense of priority and personal peace.
Since that moment in time, I’ve strived to not overload my life with responsibility so much that I become crippled in my ability to function and find happiness. While I would never, ever choose to feel like I did during those few weeks with the worst flu of my adult life, I find myself grateful for the lesson it taught me. The flu saved me!
Disclaimer: The experiences and suggestions recounted in these articles are not intended as medical advice, and they are not necessarily the “typical” experiences of families with a child who has type 1 diabetes. These situations are unique to the families depicted. Families should check with their healthcare professionals regarding the treatment of type 1 diabetes and the frequency of blood glucose monitoring. Jen and Kim are real moms of kids with type 1 diabetes and have been compensated for their contributions to this site.