1st Jan 2003
Matthew R Walsh
Real Living with Multiple Sclerosis
"SOONER OR LATER, we will all quote our mothers."--Bern Williams.
Most of us realize how much we've learned from our moms. Through many difficult circumstances, my mother and I have built a strong bond. I've learned lessons I would never have realized on my own.
My mom was diagnosed with MS about 3 years ago. Multiple sclerosis not only affects my mother, it affects me. I've stood by her through many hard times, and we've shared the burdens. I too experience personal obstacles created by my mom's illness.
"My Mom Deserves to be Healthy"
My mom experiences frequent headaches, muscle weakness, depression, chronic fatigue, numb hands, and loss of decision-making skills. At times, she's unable to carry on conversations with other people. These are all common symptoms of MS.
I've experienced several emotional struggles because of mom's condition. It's particularly difficult because most of my friends' parents are healthy. My mom deserves to be healthy too after all she's done for her four children. It hurts to see her struggle as a single parent caring for my 6-year-old brother. She's a beautiful and intelligent woman yet, because of her illness, she lacks the confidence to find a companion.
Although I've worried about my mom's isolation, recently she's getting out into the single adult crowd. Even though she's finally made this adjustment, it still hurts me because so many of my friends" parents are healthy, happy couples.
All of my brothers deal with these emotions in different ways. I feel that we need to get together and talk about what's bothering all of us. Although expressing our feelings to one another may be difficult at times, it would deffinitely be worthwhile.
I've taken on more responsibility than many people my age. I feel that I need to be there for my mom and little brother. I'm constantly watching my little brother when mom is busy or at work. At times, it feels as if I'm letting her down when she needs me to do something and I want to go out with my friends. It's difficult to leave when she needs me. The inner conflict this situation creates is extremely difficult.
I feel guilty about the way I treat my mother. In a split second, she can become very angry, sad, or tired. I never know what to expect because these flare-ups can come at any time.
Whenever I'm discontented and lash out, she always says that she can't deal with my reaction at that time. I'm not sure how I'm supposed to talk to her about what's bothering me. It's very hard to explain my feelings to her without becoming angry. I couldn't wait to leave home, but I still feel tied to my mom by loyalty, responsibility, and love. I have an extremely hard time understanding why this has happened to my mom.
I'm often overwhelmed by this situation and need to just get away. In the heat of the moment, I fail to realize why I'm angry. At times, I'm infuriated with my mother, but the underlying anger that I'm actually dealing with is at MS. I've repeatedly apologized to her. I care for my mother more than anyone. That's how I know that it's not mom that I'm having trouble with, it's the situation that we're in together.
"I Worry about My Mom Every Day" Sometimes, I feel as if I've been forgotten. It seems that everyone is concerned with my mom's MS. I don't think she realizes the problems that I face. Even when I'm struggling, she's the one who's sick. I feel that I have to bottle up my emotions until they erupt. When I do this, it's far worse than if I'd dealt with these feelings immediately. I know that mom has the most difficult time of all, but the people around the person with MS experience problems too.
I worry about my mom every day. Parents are supposed to support their kids, but I've taken on the burden of supporting my mom. Every time she needs something, I get it. Every time she needs to leave, I'm the baby-sitter. Every time she cries, I'm her comforter. Now that I'm away in college, I think about her even more. I constantly worry about how she'll function in the future and question how things will turn out. Will I still have the same loving mom after I come back from college? Am I calling enough to keep her happy? Mom may not realize this, but I worry about her as much as she worries about me.
I've already begun to quote my mother: "We all need to stick together." I can't even reveal how much I have learned from her. My mom is a huge part of who I am. Attending college is not an act of abandonment. It's an important step to help my future, as well as my family's. MS has affected both of us, but the disease will never injure our relationship in any way.
Through our battles with MS, we've become closer than ever before. I expect we'll keep building an even better relationship as time goes by.
Editorial Advisory Board note: The National Multiple Sclerosis Society
(11-800-FIGHT-MS) provides information and programs to help children deal
with a parent with MS.
© 2002 Real Living with Multiple Sclerosis