How Michael J. Fox solved my chronic mom guilt

So truth be told, I am married to a Back to the Future movie fan. We have a gigantic movie poster in our basement with Marty McFly, time machines in various corners of the house, pictures of us in front of replicas of time machines and yes, we have even been to the location of the back to the future house in L.A, and the Twin Pines Mall (fans will understand). Super exciting stuff. The reality is, I actually became a fan of Michael J. Fox when I watched the movie “Secret of my success” a million times when I was a kid. I know it sounds like a super random movie to grow up watching, but I was always rooting for the underdog I guess. So yah, he has been a part of my life for a while now, and it also doesn’t hurt that he is a fellow Canadian. So you may be asking, how in the world did Michael J. Fox, the one and only, manage to put my mom guilt into any sort of perspective for me, let alone create an Oprah moment in my brain. It all came down to two quotes.

You see, I picked up his newest book “No time like the future”, because I read that in the book, that he started to question his never-ending optimism. For years, he has been a huge role model for many in his battle against Parkinson’s disease, raising money and awareness to help those living with the battle. His ability to uphold his crazy amount of optimism, always made me shake my head in wonder. Who was this man, and how was he able to do this?

My inspiration, and solver of dealing with my Chronic Issues. Mr Michael J.Fox. Picture from his Instagram account.

I picked up his book on the day that my own health struggles started to get worse, and I could feel my own optimistic foundation starting to crumble. I guess I needed to hear some encouraging words that what I was feeling was a normal course of progression, as I filtered through this life with my illness. Now, I don’t live with Parkinson’s disease, but I can tell you that the way he described his daily feelings, pains, carefully planned medication dosing to prevent attacks, and even the way he had to skillfully plan every move he made with his body, sounded a lot like how my daily battle with POTS goes. I picked up his book, because I wanted to gain more of an understanding into how time will affect my own health physically and mentally. Instead, I walked away with wisdom that is helping cure my mom guilt. Something I wasn’t anticipating.

One thing that I have struggled with since having kids , is the feeling that I can’t keep up with them, and that I won’t be able to do things that they ask of me. This condition doesn’t allow me to run with them, or tackle the steepest toboggan hills with them. Many activities I manage better while sitting, which is not an easy thing to ask of a 3 and 5 year olds with Tasmanian level energy. My mind doesn’t want to sit though. My whole life was sports oriented. I was an athlete, and still am an athlete mentally, just not physically anymore. In my mind, I just want to go for long bike rides with them, take them to see the many waterfalls on the hiking trails close to where we live, play tag, and chase them around the house and hear them squeal with delight. I wan’t to take lots of vacations requiring stamina. I want to be who I was before they were born. But I can’t. As a result, I fear them thinking I am lazy, or not interested. Often, I end up overcompensating and staying too long on my feet, or standing outside longer than I should in the cold. Both of which, I end up paying for afterwards.

It is as simple as this. What my mind wants to do, and what my body can do, haven’t caught up with each other. I am having a hard time accepting what I have, and it has been over ten years. There is no cure. It isn’t going away. I didn’t ask for this condition, and I was angry. I didn’t know how to fix it, and then I saw it. The first quote. It simply said:

“The truth is, I don’t want to live like this, but I have found a way to accept the fact that I do”.

Michael J.Fox – No time like the future

I hovered on this line in the book. It was so simple. I didn’t want to live like this. Michael didn’t want to live like that. Who would ever want to live like this or that! But he had found a way to accept the fact that this was his life. So, I had to find a way to accept that this was part of my life now. Like it or not. That was the struggle though, because I didn’t know how to accept it with kids. The guilt I felt at them having a mom who had this chronic issue, was overwhelming on days. I worried about everything I couldn’t do for them, or with them. I worried about them having to care for me one day, or the stress I would put on them if they had to worry about me. Every time I could only walk a short distance, or needed to lay down, or I couldn’t play with them on the jungle gym, I worried about what they would think of me as a mom. I was fearing the look of disappointment on their faces that I one day imagined would happen. Hearing them whisper to their friend that their mom isn’t able to do stuff and how much it really sucks, while thinking I was out of ear shot. This is what I feared. But, then I saw the quote that changed me:

“The mistake I make at times is to assume that my kids are looking at what I can’t do, and not at what I can do. They see through the disease, and they see their dad”.

Michael J. Fox- No time like the future

I had been making all these assumptions before they had ever materialized. I wasn’t giving my kids credit, that they would see me for all that I am able to do, and all that I will always do for them. Even though I can’t climb those toboggan hills, I am always at the bottom waiting for them to come down and see their smiles. Even if I can’t chase them around the park, I am on the bench beside the slides watching them learn and grow. Even though I can’t stand and bake 400 home made muffins before the bake sale, I will make sure every time that those kids don’t walk in empty handed. Even if I have to lie down and teach them math or piano lessons, I am still right there beside them. Sitting, standing, lying down. Who cares. It’s being there that counts. I am there. Maybe they will have to do the big hiking trails with their dad, while I wait in the car. But, I always will be there, and I have to give my kids enough credit that they will see through my illness and see what I can do, and that I am their mom. That is all that matters. Thank you Mr Fox, for inspiring someone that you don’t know.

I am in no way affiliated with the sale of his book, or with Amazon. I do not know him at all, but I do think that it would be awesome to one day chat with this funny ass man! The reality is, I just want to encourage others to check out his book if you are in need of some inspiration, and especially if you are a parent living with a Disease/Chronic Illness. Sometimes all it takes is knowing that someone else is or has walked a few paces and places in your shoes. You can check out his book at:

https://www.amazon.ca/Time-Like-Future-Considers-Mortality/dp/1250265614/ref=sr_1_1?crid=3K0RJ3KU568WY&dchild=1&keywords=michael+j+fox+no+time+like+the+future&qid=1611541378&sprefix=michael+J+fox%2Caps%2C341&sr=8-1

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