On Chronic Pain, Parenting, and Gratitude


parenting with chronic pain and gratitude

I started out writing about parenting with chronic pain, but in the brittle light of a different reality, that writing just no longer feels relevant. 

I got news today that a beloved in my tribe has a terminal illness. I was drawn up short. Who the hell do I think I am that I can write 800 words about what everyone around me should know/do about my pain. Really?! 

Instead, I wrote this…

7 things someone who is not dying but hurts is grateful for… 

1. My pain is not killing me. 

I don’t mean metaphorically. Because, sometimes, metaphorically, it is killing me. I mean for realsies. It’s not killing me. We should all be so lucky. 

2. It’s boring.

I don’t really want to talk about it. It’s not like having the stomach flu, which is horrendously sucky. One should definitely ask ones friends how they are feeling after they have suffered that kind of misery and indignity. It’s not like that. It’s all the time. And it’s pretty much the same all the time. Which is lucky, really. 

3. I have health care.

Colossal, confusing, nightmarish health insurance. An argument could effectively be made that health insurance in the US is a disaster, but I get to go to a million doctor appointments and fill nearly as many pharmaceutical prescriptions. What a lucky thing. I can seek new treatments and I can manage my pain. More than most people on this planet can boast.

4. I’m not a drug addict.

A very good thing, since I want to volunteer oodles of hours at my girls’ schools and I want to drive a car and stay out of prison. All things that drug addicts have a hard time with. I take so many damn pain pills that I think it could, in theory, be an easy slip. But I’m not slipping and that’s excellent. My attentive doctors check up on me to make sure that I’m not a drug addict. Oh, the guilt and conflict every time I call to refill that prescription. I am indignant that I have to be subjected to the humiliation of what I see as groveling for my next fix. Which is ridiculous. They’re doing their jobs and keeping me safe. And keeping my sweet babies safe, since having a drug addicted parent would be decidedly unsafe. And also, I’m not groveling, I’m calling the pharmacy and pressing ‘3’ to refill my prescription and waiting a week while it is approved by my doctor. 

5. My kids are learning to be compassionate. 

I was (and am sometimes) worried that my sweet babies are suffering. That because I sometimes have to sit out of the pick up soccer game or because I can’t let them sleep in my bed or because I sometimes have to go to sleep early they will feel the loss of a “full” or “complete” mother. This is BS. I parent the crap out of those sweet babies and they know it. (Or they will someday, maybe.) What they are learning is that it is important to be gentle and loving with people. They are learning to sense when someone is not at their best. They are learning when a loved one needs a little extra TLC, and they are learning how to give said TLC. That can only serve them well in the future.

6. Did I mention my mama tribe is fierce? 

I found them on the playground. It was the best find ever. I need them sometimes and they are there. The beauty of my luck is not wasted on me. When the zombie apocalypse comes (or when I just can’t any longer), I have the best team. Having a need for these mamas has helped me to notice them and to be grateful.

7. My husband is a gem. 

I’ve always known that I won the lottery, but when it really hurts and I am worked from the pain and I’m exhausted and crying, that is when it is so much better than the lottery.  That is when I know that it just doesn’t get any better. I don’t need to worry at all. And that is beauty and perfection. I am deeply loved, my girls are deeply loved and we are being cared for by our person. He’s it. 

For all of this, and much much more, I am supremely grateful.

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Molly is mother to two daughters: an 8 year old girl who climbs everything and a 4 year old girl who only wears undies. Before becoming a full time mom, she worked as a behavior specialist in the school system, which is not as helpful as you would think when raising your own children. Molly loves feeding her family good food and getting outdoors. While she is all in for parenting with intention, good cooking, Frye boots, and aspiring to a Martha-esque home, Molly freely admits she just isn't all in for homemaking. You can follow her frustrations and celebrations at www.halfasshomemaker.com


  1. Milky, I raised my brood in with chronic pain and no pain control from my Lupus and several other autoimmune diseases. I just finally in the las 7 months have found a pain clinic and a soup of medications that work, including morphine. As a nurse, this article hits home! I know you personally so I am hoping I for the best for your loved one! And yes this will make your children strong and loving individuals, but it is also scary for them, you being in pain. Mine still worry about me all the time! Your writing is wonderful!

    • Thank you for your kind words and encouragement. I’m so glad you’ve found a cocktail that works to control your pain. You’re right about it being scary for our kids. I hate that my babies worry about me and I can never mention in front of them that I’m in pain without triggering their little worry centers. Oh, the guilt, right?! I hope that your pain continues to be controllable.

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