We often define health in terms of the absence of illness. In times of health, we often have the luxury of focusing on less weighty details, but when illness hits, it's a different story. In this episode, I interview Micah about her experience of parenting in the context of her young son's illness.
Health is one of those strange things we define more in terms of its absence than its presence. When we suddenly become aware of a body part or body function, it’s often because something is wrong. When everything’s fine, we’re ignorant of the seamless and detailed inner workings--of how much is going right behind the scenes to make it so.
In writing my first parenting book, I realized that so many of the things we worry about as parents really have nothing to do with our main work. We worry whether our meal rotation is interesting enough, or if our kids should be in this soccer program or that one, or which color to paint the living room. These decisions can matter, but they are not the center of parenting. They’re niceties, elaborations, extras, which make their way to the foreground only because, thankfully, there’s nothing more pressing.
In the next couple episodes, however, I’d like to talk about parenting in times when there are more pressing things, specifically times of significant illness. On this podcast, periodically I’ll invite guests who have expertise to share, either because of their official credentials or their lived experience. That’s the case for today’s episode & the next, where I’ll share excerpts from my interviews with two amazing women whose parenting journeys have been touched by illness. I’ve been personally inspired by these moms, and I think you’ll be too. This week, I’ll be talking with Micah, mom of 4, whose youngest son Marcus has experienced ongoing complications after having meningitis as a newborn.
Here’s our interview:
I’m so grateful to Micah for sharing her story with us. Whether we’re in a season of sickness or health, we can glean these important lessons:
-to consider scaling back
-to allow ourselves to be human
-to give ourselves time for emotional recovery
-to be intentional about finding healing
Also, we can help others by:
-acknowledging them & their situations
-communicating authentically, and
-making the commitment to practice compassion. (And practice means we might not always get it right the first time!)
Join me next week for part II of Seasons: On Sickness & Health, where I’ll be talking with Jenny who has raised 3 wonderful daughters despite her own debilitating illness.
© Mary Illions Wilde, MD
link to Brené Brown's talk on empathy vs. sympathy https://brenebrown.com/videos/rsa-short-empathy
*On an earlier episode I spoke of compassion as being somewhat different than empathy and perhaps more sustainable. This was not to discount the value of empathy as a tool to attune to others.
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xo, Dr. Mary