The title of today’s article was something my daughter said years ago in an interview. The reporter asked how it felt to have diabetes and without so much as a thought, Kaitlyn responded, “I have diabetes, diabetes is not who I am.”
It was a phrase that has resonated with me any time I feel a little down that my daughter (and later, my son) battle this disease called diabetes. Think about that phrase for just a minute. It is all-encompassing and it defined for me how Kaitlyn was going to approach dealing with diabetes.
I have learned, over the years, to let my kids—-as much as possible—not be defined by a disease. They taught me that. As many have said, but perhaps fewer than my friend Moira McCarthy when asked if your child should be allowed to do……..well whatever…..the question to ask yourself is; would I let them do it if they did not have diabetes? It is a good question to ask yourself and to guide you and Moira reminds us of that quite often.
Life with diabetes should not be a list of don’ts, no, can’t and whys——find a reason TO DO something and not a reason your child cannot. No one said it will not be without work. My friends Bonnie and Howard have a daughter who plays very competitive hockey. Now that is no easy task, even without diabetes. A lot of sacrificing for any parent. Add diabetes to the mix and you can bet your life that the family could have just told her, “no’.
I have seen some pictures of their daughter playing hockey and she does not just play…..she plays hard. It takes a lot of work to manage blood sugars while on the ice, as it is…….well….everywhere. But how rewarding is that feeling of accomplishment? Even with diabetes she is excelling in something that many would just say; ‘too hard’.
So when your child asks you to do something, find the reason to say yes. Start with small things and you will obtain the confidence with the big things. Mistakes? Oh sure, that comes with the territory and just work toward not doing it twice (BTW good luck with that also, but by the millionth time you’ll get there).
Let your kids explore, camp, sleepover, parachute, and/or whatever it is that they want to do………let them be defined but what they want and remember they have diabetes, diabetes is not who they are. Amen to that…..right?
I am a diabetes dad.
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