A couple of nights ago I sat down in front of the TV to see what was holding my partners attention. An SBS doco on a group of disabled young men who had formed a rock band and were touring. It was hard for them because (from what I could tell in the short amount of attention I gave it) they had Aspergers. I'm sure there is heaps hard to be had when you've got Aspergers. But all I felt for them was irritation. And this: I'm sicker than them and what I do every day running a household and family is far harder and far more significant and I'm so tired of chronic illness and all the pressure it puts on my life and those around me and no ones ever gonna make a documentary about that are they? are they? (Note to my documetary film maker friend Magella: please don't get any ideas about putting me in a documentary. You know I get self conscious on camera and inadvertantly pull out a fake voice that makes me sound like Elle McPherson only with a stubborn cold and a a big fat case of BITTER).
How do other mothers manage I wonder? Am I the only other sick mum out there pretending all is well enough? To find out more I went on line (well okay I am nearly always online so I just opened up a new window...) to find out and hopefully get some tips. Alas I did not find much that I did not already know. I did however find this - a study appropriately titled Mothers with chronic illness: a predicament of social construction. No tips just some acknowledgement of my predicament. And it's funny what a long way that can go.
In the context of a larger qualitative study, a database including extensive interviews with a subset of sixteen chronically ill mothers was obtained. Secondary analysis revealed that the women's concerns about themselves and their children included issues of performance, availability, dependency, and socialization. Further, these women reported that the health care system seemed incapable of recognizing or accounting for the profound interrelationship between their mothering and their illness. Analysis of these findings in terms of the conflicting social obligations inherent in the roles of "mother" and of "chronically ill person" provides a means by which to understand the women's impressions that it was a contradiction in terms to be both an effective mother and a good patient.