As mothers, it is hard seeing our children off to elementary school for the first time when our children are 5 years old. These days, even though most children are in daycare part-time or full-time, starting elementary school is still a big step for them as well as for us. For us mothers, it means that our children are growing up and that we aren’t needed as much as we once were and that is sad and can be scary also. I remember crying for hours the first day of kindergarten, worrying about every little detail: Did he make it to his class okay? Did he get lost going from his class to the bathroom? How in the world is he ever going to make it around that big school without me there to guide him? I worried until I saw the bus pull up front at the end of the day that he was going to miss the bus. But he stepped off the bus, I breathed a sigh of relief, and realized that he made it fine without me there holding his hand.
Once I got over my initial “breakdown”, I started to really enjoy having the house to myself during the day, especially during all of those awful CFS days where I needed to be alone to just be sick and try and sleep. Then summer vacation would roll around and I would have to try and juggle keeping my son busy with my sleepless nights and CFS flares and I could barely make it most days. I would end up locking myself in the bathroom, crying so that my son wouldn’t see me, because I was just so miserable. I couldn’t keep up.
Then I would be at the store or talking to other mothers and they would be talking about how they were enjoying their summer vacations with their kids and how they hated the thought of summer vacation ending. I would feel like a rotten mother because I always dreaded the end of the school year and couldn’t wait for the summer to end. On top of the guilt I felt for being so sick all of the time, I felt guilty for wanting my kid back in school so that I could get some rest.
CFS not only robs us of the physical roles we need to play in life but it also robs us of any joy with our children and families. It is our illness that wants the kids back in school – it isn’t us as mothers, because when we do feel well, we want the summer vacations to never end. It’s the pain and the exhaustion that takes the joy out of taking a bike ride or a swim around the pool with our children – it’s not us as mothers.
So if you’re a CFS mother reading this and you are feeling bad because you couldn’t wait for your children to get back to school, know that you’re not alone. There are even a lot of healthy women out there who can’t wait for their kids to get back to school! At least we have an excuse!