The Mum Network

Sympathy – can you give it? Can you take it?

A friend of mine went on a cruise with her girlfriends. In an effort to regain her youth, make the most of the experience and prove that her ageing bones could still do yummy mummy  fitness stuff, she went rock climbing. Upon her mission she seriously grazed her knees against the rock climbing wall. She was amazed by the pain she was in. Instant mother guilt ensued. She immediately thought of all the times she’d brushed off the bleeding knees of her three kids with “You’ll be right, up you get, brush off the gravel and get back on the bike” – she was still limping in pain three days after the rock climbing incident and returned home vowing to be kinder to the kids when they fell off their bikes, skateboards, trampolines.

Another of my friends said that she thinks she’s a better teacher and mother since she realised one of her kids was struggling in one subject at school. It gave her more empathy, a willingness to dedicate more time to those kids who do have issues and not least of all, her own child.


Does it take a Mum to go through something herself for our sympathy scale to register the real pain or effort needed to make it better? I think it might. (Unless you’re a helicopter parent of course, then you’re always in pain, even if your child isn’t – must be exhausting).

I used to be a repellent for sympathy. Didn’t give it and sure as hell didn’t want it however with each medical hiccup that occurs as I gets a tad older, my sympathy button is now well and truly in good working order.


When I had diabetes in pregnancy, my blood sugars were through the roof. Like inject yourself 7 times a day and have your Dr describe your dosage as ‘elephant Levels of insulin’ kind of through the roof. The frightening highs and lows of diabetes should never be underestimated and if you know someone who has hypers and hypo’s – seriously give them a huge sympathy hug and then lecture them on good eating habits because there is nothing worse than that feeling of your blood sugars being too high or low and the only way to control it is a non negotiable healthy diet (I struggled a bit there). It’s frightening and the side effects are worse. I won’t go into them but rest assured, there isn’t a diabetic whom I don’t want to hug and give a lifetime achievement award to. It’s a tough one to live with because every time you eat, and every time you don’t, you’re reminded of your disease.

Tonight I have a slightly serious breathing issue (i.e I can’t breathe), I’m blaming Mrs O who had some type of respiratory issue up at the farm and I was in a closed vehicle with her for 5 hours straight. I can also blame myself for a lapse in judgement and getting carried away with the frivolity of this past weekend and having a few too many wines and  stuff but we’re 4 days down the track and I still feel like crap. Enter ventolin. OMG – that stuff is a God send. If you’ve ever had a breathing issue and you suck back a few big ones on the ventolin, it’s an instant fix (at the moment for an hour at the most) but nonetheless, it gives you a bit of space to re-gather your thoughts and stops the psycho visions (yes, weird blurred visions – hmm, could be time for a Dr). For the first time EVER, I have a true understanding of what my asthma kid (Mr 4) goes through when the weather changes, when he runs too much, when there’s smoke in the air, when the sun comes up, anytime really. When he goes psycho (2 year old tantrum kind of psycho), I tend to as well. It’s like a stand off between psychos. It’s easy to forget that he doesn’t always understand the pressure on his chest means asthma and he needs his puffer. I vow forevermore to be more attentive to his breathing and to offer sympathy and not a “WHAT NOW” when he’s losing it.

A friend of mine that I have known for 32 years posted a pic of her miracle baby in hospital tonight. She’s tied up to all types of machines with pneumonia. The baby is not even 3 months old. The memories all came flooding back. I’ve been there, those machines and that moment when the Dr’s can’t give you answers. The wait and see and the hours that feel like weeks. That’s how Mr 4 got asthma, bloody pneumonia. I re-read a BLOG post I wrote a couple of years ago about it tonight, I cried. My sympathy button went off the scale It’s hard to understand unless you’ve been there but tonight I’m thinking about that little baby and how fragile she is. Life isn’t fair. I’d swap places with her in a heartbeat if it meant she could get better and go home with her Mum and Dad.

For all the kids in hospital tonight, we’re thinking about you, it’s not fair that you’re in there.

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