Lately I’ve felt a pull to reach out. I know that the feeling of “me too” is an important one, and I know that the “power of same” can soothe shaken hearts and lift us during our darkest hours.
Parents of teenagers with Diabetes, I don’t want you to think you’re alone.
I don’t want you to think you’re a failure.
I don’t want you to give up.
Admittedly, it’s harder than I even thought it would be. It seems pretty universal that our children go through this superstar period where they show us how capable they are. They show us they are as smart as we are, and rise to the occasion every time. Every freaking million and half times...
And then one day they stop.
And it’s frustrating for us, and confusing. They know the work is important. Nothing changed from yesterday to today. They know what to do. WHY AREN’T THEY DOING IT??
We feel like they’re broken. We feel like we’ve failed them. We feel the avalanche has begun and we can’t hold back the boulders looming above their heads. Even if we could stop one, there are thousands more. Why can’t we control the avalanche of numbers? Do not our children see? Don’t they feel the danger? The rocks hit their heads and they aren’t even fazed…
They aren’t even fazed.
I have three teenagers with Diabetes that aren't even fazed.
At first I thought the process of unfazement was stupidity.
But I’ve found the real word I’m looking for: resiliency.
Resiliency: The capacity to recover quickly from difficulties; toughness.
They are coping with the avalanche the best way they know how. By this age they understand what diabetes is. They understand what it can do to their body. They understand the importance of the work. They understand it will never go away…
And so they cope with their teenage superpower: apathy. Because internalizing it all could break them. They aren’t ready for that kind of reality yet. So much to worry about going through puberty…keeping oneself alive on top of everything else can just be too much.
It wasn’t that long ago that we stepped back and gave them the freedom they desired. They earned it. They were awesome. But some of them....most of them...need us to step back in. Our vacations from diabetes were glorious for sure, but vacations are just that…temporary breaks.
Maybe we need to check them when they wake up in the morning, and when they go to sleep at night.
That’s two checks that may not have happened if we didn’t step in.
We may need to begin 2 am checks. The nights are half the battle. We can win it for them.
Maybe we need to remind them to bolus after dinner, even if they roll their eyes.
Maybe we need ask them how much insulin is left in their pumps.
We need to be there for them even if they don’t want us there.
My boys are still my babies. And my babies need help.
There’s an avalanche after all…
And I’ve been lazy. I’ve watched that avalanche and scolded them for not working to avoid it…instead of jumping in and lending a hand.
They need my help.
And scolding isn’t help.
Disgust isn’t help.
Disappointment isn’t help.
The definition of help is offering resources or assistance to make it easier for someone to do something.
I know some kids don’t want “help.” But I can tell you that now that I’ve stepped in again there is marked relief on my boys’ faces. Yes, it’s frustrating that I have to think for them…but they need me.
They need my help.
They need my reminders.
They need my reassurance.
They need me to take a couple of the boulders to the face for them.
I can take it.
I can help model that resilience. In Psychology Today they say that resilience is that ineffable quality that allows some people to be knocked down by life and come back stronger than ever. Rather than letting failure overcome them and drain their resolve, they find a way to rise from the ashes.
Rising from the ashes? Ouch. That isn't an easy prospect when one is alone.
But...they're not alone.
We’re better together.
To all of you parents wearing worry as your cardigan…we can do this.
Hard times don’t last forever.
One day they’ll surprise us again.
It’s going to be ok.
We’re not alone.
They're not alone.
Let’s help with our superpower: love. (And our sidekick: the parent face.)