There is no love that I have ever known like the love I have for my children. I understand the Momma Bear analogy so well because I can guarantee you the last place you want to be is between me and my children.
I am their loudest cheerleader, their fiercest advocate and the place that they seek comfort. I always want the best for them.
I am also the one who does the vast majority of my daughter’s type 1 diabetes (T1D) management. I make the moment to moment decisions, analyze the data, make adjustments and stay awake at night when needed.
I want nothing more than to manage her diabetes and keep her in range as much as possible. I want her to feel well and I want to do everything I can to make sure that she doesn’t have complications by the time she’s my age.
I would like to say that I work tirelessly, but the truth is, sometimes I get tired. Exhausted.
I’m also no stranger to anxiety, depression, and burn out.
Every single day, I give both of my kids all that I’ve got, but some days I don’t have a lot to give. There are some days with diabetes management that we stick with just the core of what we know. I may not always have the mental energy to be able to think dynamically or to be able to pivot in the moment. Some days, we just survive. Other days, I step back completely. There are nights I either nudge my husband to go take care of her or I have to leave her blood sugar a little higher than I would normally like because I physically cannot get out of bed in the middle of the night one more time.
If there is one thing life has taught me, its that sometimes I need to give myself a break to refocus my heart and to rest my body. And while it doesn’t lead to ideal blood sugar management, if I don’t take that time, it’s only going to begin a spiral that is even harder to get out of. Instead of being a day or two, it becomes a week or more and then it’s even harder to correct. There are components of my own physical health that are testament to this.
At this stage of life, we approach her management as a partnership. There are things she does (like change her pod and make some independent dosing decisions), but I carry the bulk of the responsibility. I tell her constantly if she needs a total break from it, just to let me know. I can pick up her PDM and program the bolus. I can change the pod. I can carry as much of the weight as she needs me to. While I can take a break from her management and one day will be completely done, she won’t always have that luxury.
As a T1D parent, there is a day coming that my role in her diabetes management will be done. She will shut off the share data, I won’t know what her A1C is and she will be on her own. Before then, I have the job to teach her how to live a healthy, independent and successful life. There is a lesson to be learned about how to manage through her days of anxiety, depression, burnout or stress so that she keeps herself safe in the moment, but appreciates that when she “gives it her all”, that she just may have less to give.
I don’t want her to feel like that standard is perfection because that’s not feasible or realistic – in diabetes management or any other part of life. This journey is long, exhausting and can be emotionally taxing. There are days that we need to focus on taking care of the heart and the soul ahead of the numbers.
I also don’t want this to read that my husband isn’t involved. He absolutely is, but we have found it works better to have one of us who is primarily managing. He will absolutely take the lead at any point of time. He takes the girls on a camping trip each summer and I completely unplug. He often does corrections in the middle of the night and I don’t know about them. He will place a hand on my shoulder as I am rolling out of bed and tell me that he’s got it. He’s 100% beside both of us on this journey.
I truly hope she has a life partner that will be there for her when she’s on her own. Someone who can take over for her when she needs a break and help her to continue on.