Giving my first insulin shot. That was the moment that I first employed the concept of “fake it till you make it.” It was my mom’s advice, and it helped a lot.

James was still at the hospital after being diagnosed with type 1 diabetes. Because he needed some help getting his blood chemistry all straightened out, we had the mercy of some additional learning time under the instruction of the doctors and nurses. It was still scary. It was in the little pediatric playroom on the hospital floor that I first held a syringe in my fingers and plunged it into James’ little arm. I had a perfectly stoic face, holding firm to give confidence to James. Inside I was a complete mess.

Growing up I hated “fake.” I still kind of do. I also realize (and I have written about this before) that sometimes consciously forcing our exterior helps us when our interior strength has completely given out. It helped me every day those first few weeks into diagnosis. Though my heart felt a little broken and my mind was racing, my face was calm, and I found that eventually my insides were able to catch up to my outsides. In little time, I was able to gain confidence and hope.

I think “fake” is probably the wrong terminology. Maybe “wishful” is better? I think that maybe small children can be taken in by a “fake,” but as kids grow, they are more perceptive. They are EXTREMELY perceptive in fact. I feel like as they grow, they listen less to what you say and much more to what you do and who you are.

So James is getting older. Am I still “faking it”? When I’m being honest, my answer is sometimes. But not very often. Two things are happening here. The first is that my strength is now coming from inside. I feel strong and hopeful, and I just feel like James is going to be okay! I’ve seen it! The families I meet in the diabetes community, locally and online, teach me that there are great things in James’ future.

The second thing that has changed is that James is no longer so easily swayed or quieted. I feel like as he grows, he’ll find more comfort in honest answers. His mind is growing sharper, and he knows when I’m hiding something because it might be unpleasant or when my answer is not as insistent as it ought to be. I find it best to tell him the whole truth. Oftentimes, I think it isn’t as bad as he imagines!

So when does “fake it till you make it” still work? When I’m encouraging James to try a new infusion set, and I’m pretty sure it won’t hurt but I’m not entirely certain I’m going to put it in correctly the first time. When I see a super high blood sugar that refuses to budge. When my inner strength isn’t quite there yet, but it’s on its way.

“Fake it till you make it” is meant to be a temporary measure. And in that way it works awesomely. In that context, I think that James and I have largely “made it,” or at least we are well on our way!

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.

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