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Thursday, September 1, 2016

Adapting to MS Parenting Challenges


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By Shelley Peterman Schwarz
I was so naive and unprepared when I became a parent. I was completely overwhelmed by the 24/7 responsibility. And I certainly didn’t expect to be diagnosed with multiple sclerosis! Every day, it seemed I lost physical abilities, and I didn’t have the energy or stamina of a normal 32-year-old mother. It was difficult and depressing for me, especially when I saw what other mothers were doing.

Our first hurdle was, “what do we tell the children?” Even though they were so young, they knew that something bad had happened. Mom cried a lot; Dad, Grandma, and Grandpa talked in hushed tones. Outgoing little Jamie didn’t want me to leave her sight. Happy-go-lucky Andrew began sucking his thumb – something he had stopped doing months before.

One night, my husband, Dave, and I gathered our courage and told the kids that Mommy had an illness the doctors didn’t know much about and there was no medicine to make Mommy better.

Jamie’s first question was, “Mommy, are you going to die?”

At just five, she could ask piercing, perceptive questions. That night I cried myself to sleep. My MS had robbed my children of the carefree childhood they deserved. I vowed to try to keep our world as normal as possible.

As my disability increased, we tried to explain things in terms they could understand. Mommy’s hands were weak and they would have to be patient because it would take me longer to comb their hair, button their clothes and make their lunches.

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