Parenthood can be hard; being a single parent is an extra challenge. Add cystic fibrosis into the mix, and parenthood becomes all that more interesting. This is my reality: I am a single mother of two who also happens to have CF.
No, it's not an easy life. However, it isn't a life that I would trade either. I have to balance my 7-year-old daughter's social needs, my 3-year-old son's temper tantrums and my health care routine. Although life can get a bit chaotic, the moments when my kids say, “Mommy, I love you,” make it all worthwhile.
How do I make it work? Despite being a single mom, I have a good support system that helps make life a little easier. My sister lives with me, and my friends babysit when they can. When I'm feeling especially sick or overwhelmed, my mother will come to stay with me and my daughter helps out with chores around the house. I also have a fairly good relationship with my ex-husband and his partner to co-parent our children. I do not do it all by myself.
Although I can acknowledge this now, it hasn't always been easy for me to admit that I can't do everything alone. I am the kind of person who wants to stubbornly do everything on my own, and I've had to learn how to ask for help. Certainly right after my separation from my ex-husband, I felt like a failure if I couldn't do it alone. However, I quickly learned how unrealistic that aspiration could be; it was just too hard to do it all by myself. Although it was difficult to ask for help at first, it became easier with practice. It has been my saving grace for my sanity and my health -- and you know what? I'm okay with that.
Cystic fibrosis is a crazy, unpredictable disease, so it's essential for me to have a good support group to help out when I'm too sick to parent independently. I've learned that you can be a good parent to your kids but also have back-up when you need it. There's nothing wrong with calling on your friends, family or community for help. That doesn't make you a failure. Rather, it means that you're doing your best, and being healthy enables you to be the best parent you can be. No matter how much you may want to do it on your own, asking a friend to babysit so that you can take a nap or putting on a movie to distract your kids in order to fit in a treatment can help you parent to the best of your abilities.
If you're a single parent too, I want to encourage you by saying that it is possible. Single parenthood as a person with CF is crazy, but being okay with asking for help can make it easier.