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Motherhood & Chronic Illness: Resting Wisely, Loving Fully & Embracing Help

It was a particularly warm Carolina summer day, and I was feeling pretty tired from a busy schedule. Frankly, I just wanted to veg out in the cool air conditioning.


So when my son asked if we could eat lunch outside, I noticed him physically brace himself for a response of “not this time, buddy.” I stopped myself and instead replied, “Sure, let’s eat outside.” Pleasantly surprised, he skipped out to our back patio.


After lunch, he asked again if I would stay outside with him. Again, I said “yes.” We sat on the swings together and I listened to him chatter on about Legos and superheroes.


Then he made his way to the corner of the yard to build some kind of rock sculpture that kept him content for quite some time. I watched him from the shade, thankful he was mine and grateful he didn’t require some kind of adventure that particular afternoon.


Rationing Energy


Summer days in the South are long and hot - which means lots of daylight hours for keeping my only child busy, active and content. Like most moms, some days I’m up for the adventure. We explore greenway trails, play mini golf, go swimming, get ice cream.


But other days are a challenge – even more so when I wake up and have an “off day” due to my chronic illness. I never know when a flare-up is going to strike. I can ration my energy if I know big plans are on the horizon, like a family vacation or a “field trip” day. But I know I can’t schedule several full days in a row; my body requires rest days in between.


All my son needed was my presence and my willingness to say “yes.”


On those days when my body doesn’t cooperate, however, I still have to be a mom. My son doesn’t have any siblings to keep him busy (or to argue with, let’s be honest), so it’s up to me to orchestrate our days and not rely too much on screen time. He plays relatively well by himself, but he looks to me for fun and adventure. And I don’t mind – I’m his mommy, a title I longed for for many years.


Some days include field trips, others include slow days in the back yard.

Being Present with “Yes”


That particular summer afternoon taught me something – that being an amazing mom to my child doesn’t require a summer full of bucket-list moments. All my son needed was my presence and my willingness to say “yes.”


I realized it’s simply the small things that make him happy. Playing hallway soccer. Joining him on the floor for a game of Battleship. Painting rocks on the patio. Small gifts of time and engagement that don’t require huge amounts of energy - and is soul-feeding to us both.


Relying on Community


There are other days when I simply need a break, and if my husband is at work, I need to ask for help from fellow moms or grandparents. I used to feel guilty – I would reserve seeking out help when I really needed it. But I’m learning to humbly request play dates where I can drop my son off for a few hours just so I can rest.


We can’t be afraid to invite others in to ask for help.


I try to reciprocate and watch others’ children when I can, which turns into a blessing to me because it keeps my son happy and busy. Sometimes I get more done watching friends’ children because mine is occupied, and the mess is worth it!


We are meant to live in community, and even Jesus had those who served alongside him, prayed with him and supported him. Being a parent can be lonely and exhausting (compounded if you have a chronic illness), but we can’t be afraid to invite others in to ask for help.


We may simply need another grown-up conversation to get through our day. We may need a break for a few hours - and not feel guilty if those hours involve rest instead of grocery shopping or errands.


As a mom, protecting your rest isn’t always easy – seemingly impossible in certain seasons. But we don’t need to struggle or feel helpless.


Psalm 103:14 tells us we have an understanding God who knows our frame. He knows our resources are limited – but His are not. He offers rest to the weary. Strength to the weak. Wisdom to those who seek it. Help to those who ask. It’s available, weary sister; seek God in your rest and He will meet your needs.


Tips for Moms on Finding Rest

Your Children: Say “yes” to simple requests when you can - board games, crafts, a small change of schedule like eating lunch outside. You’ll be surprised how much this will delight your children.


Your Community: Ask for help from your tribe. Pray about it, and trust God to answer in His way. If the first person says “no,” ask someone else who may be God’s plan for you that day. If you can’t find anyone, trust God to take care of you and your children’s needs even if it means a low-key day.


Your Lord: Get in the Word and make a gratitude list. There’s nothing more soul-feeding than taking in God’s truth. When we are weary and weak, God has compassion on us. You can start with Psalm 103, Lamentations 3:1-33, and Matthew 6:25-34. Make a list of God’s blessings from these passages and from your daily life.

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