Raising kids after a head injury: My broken brain makes me a better Mom

I spend a lot of time worrying about the life I have created for our children because of my head injury.  Despite my shortcomings, we made a choice to have our children after my accident, and the older they get and more aware they become of my differences, it frustrates me that I can’t give them a life beyond what we have.  Ultimately though, we are all fighting some sort of battle, so if this is ours, we are going to embrace it.

Despite the feelings of sadness of the things we miss out on because of me, I know I am giving our kids a life that is filled with some valuable lessons because of my accident.  My circumstances have caused me to become hyper-aware to a number of healthier choices that I make for our family, so today, I am going to focus on them and how they make our lives a little bit sweeter.

We spend a lot of time outside

We spent a lot of time taking walks, going to playgrounds, playing at the park, the zoo, and finding other activities that require us to be outside and not indoors.  I feel much better outside in the fresh air and being outside helps my headaches.  Being indoors causes me to feel trapped and being outside feels more open and manageable.

We make healthier nutritional choices

At some point after my accident, I realized that my body needs wholesome, nutritional foods to feel better.  That’s not to say I don’t indulge in sweets and treats, but generally speaking, we eat a cleaner diet because I feel terrible when we don’t.  I experience brain fog and feel worse when I eat too many processed, sugary foods so I try to limit what we buy and consume.   I am very conscious of what I am putting in my body and theirs and know how important it is to fuel them with the right nutrients. 

We respect our bodies and exercise

When I am out of shape and don’t exercise, I am in far more physical pain than when I do.  In order to feel good, I need to be making my muscles strong and work to their fullest potential.  Our children watch me respect my body and they respect theirs.  They are frequently overheard saying, “I need to get my exercise” and prefer a variety of activities that challenge their bodies.

I am able to relate to our son, at an entirely different level than I would have ever been able 

Last Summer, our son was diagnosed with epilepsy.  Watching him begin his life with a medical condition has been challenging, but has made me realize how truly resilient he (and all children) truly are.  He knows nothing other than the life he currently has and he deals with it.  More recently, he is being treated for ADHD (Attention Deficity Hyperactivity Disorder) and after we started addressing some things with ADHD tools, I am able to understand him at an entirely new level.  He gets distracted, overwhelmed and behaves a certain way because he can’t control it.  It was as if a lightbulb went off and I realized how similar we are.  I can recognize when things are getting too much for him, because generally, they are becoming too much for me.  I am able to see when he needs rest, because I need rest.  My cognitive issues have prepared me to be his mother and I will fight for him and find him the right resources.  I am a better Mom to him because I get it.

We live in the moment 

Meditation and yoga were an integral part of my recovery and my kids watch me practice it daily.  When I am feeling overwhelmed, or need a break, I encourage them to do it with me.  These habits have caused me to realize how very important it is for me to be present with them, and to devote my attention to whatever it is I am doing.  I can’t do too many things at once (as my husband so kindly reminds me, ha!)   My mind gets more  jumbled and overwhelmed when I am trying to switch between too many tasks, so I focus on what  I need to do and do it.  Eliminating distractions helps me help them.

We are more aware of people that are different than us

I am constantly judged because I look “normal” with three kids in tow.  However, my kids see my frustration on a daily basis when I can’t do things that other Moms are able to do.  We talk a lot about how not everyone is healthy and it’s not visible to everyone that someone might be struggling with something that we know nothing about. Kindness matters.

On the days I am near tears that I can’t read them another book because my head throbs, I remember that this is just a moment in their lifetime.  That we will have other moments, more memorable, and if they need to watch a little more TV right now so I can rest, then they do it.  I remind myself, I am enough.  I focus on the good and forget the bad (which for the past almost 9 years I know will happen, the perk to memory problems, right?).  

Be well, friends and be grateful. 

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