What is Mother’s Day? I believe it’s a chance for us to celebrate and reflect on the incredible mom’s out there. I wanted to share stories of three remarkable women who have found strength and determination to overcome the challenges of motherhood with Parkinson’s disease.
Melonie Larsen’s Story
“Something I found challenging being a mother with Parkinson’s disease, is trying to keep our life normal. My children are very active and sometimes it’s hard for me to keep up with everyday life. My children are also very understanding, kind and helpful so that makes it a lot easier to get through the tough times.
One thing that I want my children to understand and I believe they already understand it is that sometimes people don’t have a choice and what happens to them and you have to make the best of it. I believe that everybody is fighting their own battle whether it’s with PD or something else and you must have empathy and compassion for everyone.
Something positive that has come from my Parkinson’s disease, is that my kids are much kinder, helpful and understanding children. We don’t take anything for granted and we strive to make the best out of everything. I think explaining PD to your children is just like explaining anything else to them. I think you need to be honest with them and open with them.
My advice to mothers that have Parkinson’s disease is to take it day-by-day. There are some days that you don’t want to do a darn thing but you have to just keep going. I know there are days that seem horrible but you have to remember that there are also wonderful days. My 3 little children have kept me going and my husband is a wonderful supporter. Parkinson’s disease has opened my eyes to a whole different world, one with love and understanding. I also think you need to surround yourself with people who support you in everything that you do. I think you call it your wolfpack.”
Sharon Miller’s Story
“It has been difficult having Parkinson’s disease and I think it is difficult for everyone involved. Including co-workers, friends, spouse, parents and children. My children were 30 and 28 years old when I was diagnosed. My son and his wife were expecting their first child and my daughter had her first daughter 2 years later. Everyone was concerned with the possibility of me passing this horrible disease down to my children and now, my grandchildren. This caused me to start researching all the possibilities.
I would want my children to know that there is much more time than I certainly thought I had. I was diagnosed 15 years ago and much has been learned since that time. I have confidence that there will be a cure soon and within their lifetime.
I think the fact that the children have each had to learn that grandma has problems. Lots of questions have been asked such as ‘Why does grandma shake, why does she walk funny’? They have all developed strong empathy toward people with handicaps. I’m not taking the credit for their sense of fairness, but I do think it has contributed.
I think it’s best to give honest and truthful answers to any questions the children have. Keep the discussion as simple as possible. Learn about PD as well as possible. I find that for me to stay positive, I tend to read positive headlines and stay away from negative articles.”
Kelly Hamlin’s Story
“My children are ages 3, 4 and 6. Being so young they have constant and continuous needs. Keeping up with those needs in addition to the daily chores of a housewife and trying to exercise on top of it leaves little room for rest. Balancing these daily needs and tasks with the daily fatigue that accompanies PD I find to be the most challenging part.
I would like them to know and understand that as I progress I will never give up on them or on myself. That I will do everything in my power not let an illness define us. That I need them as much as they need me, and if we have each other than we have everything.
PD has challenged me to no only face a storm but to be the storm. Within the last 6 months I have found strength I never knew I had. PD is life altering, and devastating, and unknown. It’s scary but it’s also a reminder that I am alive and every moment is precious as at any moment PD might rise up to offer a new challenge to overcome.
The first time my kids really noticed my tremor they all stared at me. Not knowing what to do I laughed and said my hand was happy. So now they call it my “happy hand.” My 6-year-old will start shaking and say his body is happy too. I never sat them down and explained what’s wrong with me. I’m letting it unfold as they ask or will have them help me if I’m having a hard time. I don’t hide my PD from them but I also don’t let it consume their lives. I want it to be something that unfolds naturally for them so it’s never a shock that their mom has an illness.
I have found stress to be my trigger for PD. Parenting, errands, chores, bills, having a partner, friendships and family, diet, exercise, and meds all add to that stress. We need to find a small bit of time in the day where we can meditate, pray, refocus and regroup. If we can’t set aside time to stop stress from taking over and feeding our PD then the progression will be fueled and we won’t have a chance. As young mothers with PD we owe it to ourselves to stop even if for a minute and breath.”
To all the women out there faced with the adversity of Parkinson’s disease, I commend you. I wake up in the morning, and find it difficult to take care of my needs, let alone a child’s. The stories of the struggles these women have shared left me feeling inspired and humbled. Thank you for sharing a tiny glimpse into your life with Parkinson’s disease. You’re my heroes! I wish you all a Happy Mother’s Day! ~Perky Parkie