The Teenager had arranged to go out biking with his friends in the morning. That was great – he’s an outdoorsy kid and I’d much rather he was out than stuck in his bedroom in front of the computer screen. He phoned me early afternoon to tell me excitedly he’d been invited to the beach by some of his friends and their parents.
When I got home, he was in the middle of packing his swimming costume, a towel and some money, bouncing around, beaming from ear to ear. I waved him off, sat at the kitchen table and cried.
Why? MS. Extreme heat intolerance means I will never be able to take him to the beach in the summer. I can’t take him anywhere in this weather. Add constant fatigue on top and I’m a pretty useless parent now. I’m only glad we did a lot together when he was younger, before MS reared it’s ugly head.
I’m trying to stay positive. The flipside to my new working hours is that I am always at home after school. He might only want to say a few words/grunts before raiding the fridge, but I listen. I know all the dramas going on at school, I know what homework he needs to hand in and he knows I’m always there for him.
Finding a new way of parenting with MS has been one of the hardest challenges and one we are still working out together. Gone are the days we jumped in the car on a whim and headed off. Everything is meticulously planned now, with one eye on the weather forecast and energy levels.
Years ago I was told that when you give birth to a child, you also give birth to a lifetime of guilt. What you feed your child, which toys you buy, which school you send them to – all are guilt-laden. Throw in a hefty dose of MS and the guilt skyrockets. I’m failing as an active parent. I can only hope that when he looks back as an adult, my son will not remember the times I didn’t take him to the beach, but will instead feel secure in the knowledge that he was always, always the centre of my world.