I texted my son yesterday to see if he was okay. I was downtown trying to be a pro in my work life while my son was miles away trying to be a normal middle schooler in his school life.
I’m a working mom and my child has type one diabetes.
Type one diabetes is a scary, expensive, chronic, all-consuming disease and I am still, nine years after my son’s diagnosis at age four, working through my anger and grief at the injustice of this disease and its impact on our lives.
For years, I hid my son’s illness and the fatigue and distraction it caused from my colleagues. Along the way, I put off accepting his condition as part of my life. By life I mean my work life and my personal life.
In my work life, at least, I pretended I was not a founding member of a club I didn’t want to belong to—a club of working moms whose kids are not perfect. A club of working moms who do not sleep through the night. A club of working moms who miscalculate the ratio of insulin to carbs or mix up the long-acting and the short-acting insulin. A club of working moms who, because of their mistake, then have to catch their child as he collapses on the stairs, phone the ER nurse, and clean up his vomit from the force-feeding required to compensate for the overdose of insulin surging through his veins. A club of moms who watch their teenaged child sleep, not out of endearment, but terror. A club of moms who routinely save the life of their perfectly treasured child who is burdened with an imperfect pancreas.
At work, I aspired to be in the club with the real pros. Real pros are focused, dispassionate, rational and single-minded.
I’m a real mom, working hard to be perfect, but who, nevertheless, makes terrible and terrifying mistakes, because, really, the days are long and I’m juggling a lot and I’m only human.
In truth, I’m mercurial, intense, emotional and complex. Above all else, I’m resilient. It’s precisely these qualities that make me good at what I do.
I am a force-of-nature marketer. An exceptional insight hunter. I am an empathic, hard-working and truth-telling team player. I am loyal. I am funny. I work my ass off to bring ideas to life. I have tenacious patience and deadly logic, both of which I have practiced and practiced, not just at work, but while negotiating with insurance companies, drug stores and specialty pharmacies. I have a tireless ability to get what I need out of complex, bureaucratic organizations. Further, I can tell you stories that will be so clear and so keenly felt that my words will merge with your thinking and together we will tell truths, fight fights and slay dragons.
Right now, my son is at school concentrating on schoolwork and I’m at work, concentrating on work work. And I am the mother of a child with a chronic illness. And today is my coming out day. Who’s in this club with me?
This article first appeared on Linkedin.com
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