Sweating, chills, shivering, and a thumping headache—the common signs that one is catching a fever or just contracting the common cold. However, these can also be the symptoms one can experience in times of distress or worry. Specifically, the worry for another individual such as one’s mother.
Not for everyone, but for some individuals, a mother is the most important figure in life, whether it be for help in “adulting” or someone to turn to in times of emotional vulnerability. There are periods of life, like the teen years, where the presence of a mother can be anything but helpful. They just don’t seem to understand the perspective of their teen because the world is a bustling place, and things change, and definitely have changed since they themselves remember being teenagers. Nevertheless, regardless of how hard it can be for a mother and a teen to meet on the same page, it can make many sick themselves while having to see their own mother deal with illness.
The constant thought of how my mom must be feeling now, or what emergency might have come up now, is always lingering at the back of my mind. Without the physical change of a move to a new place, a new school, or any other common changes that come to an average 16 year old, I feel like my life has become ever-changing. Though this change does not always upset me, it becomes overwhelming at times with responsibilities many of my peers at school don’t have to deal with.
My mother was diagnosed with hyperthyroidism in 2002, and while this seems like just one sickness to battle, it creates several other issues in a person. Hyperthyroidism is the overactivity of the thyroid gland and causes symptoms such as a enlarged thyroid gland, irritability, changes in menstrual patterns, and thinning of hair and skin. My mother has faced all of these and more, and still faces some to this day, after years of treatment and adapting to the condition.
In 2004, she even pursued surgery to remove her thyroid, and even though it helped, there have been lasting impacts on her. Just as I thought there would hopefully not be any more detriment in my mother’s life, she was diagnosed with rheumatoid arthritis and is currently fighting swollen joints and joint pain almost everyday.
We were in and out of hospitals all the time, and I remember several times throughout childhood when I truly felt afraid that my mother would be even more different when she came home from the next visit. Those experiences sculpted me into the person I am, well-versed in my mother’s medications, and ready for anything she may need help with.
This is something I’ve started to pride myself in, and it’s comforting to know that I am not the only one who is my age and has these circumstances daily. Sophomore Cameron Shipman’s mother, Nermin Senol, is battling both lupus and fibromyalgia. These are physically and emotionally draining conditions for both Cameron and Nermin. “It’s hard watching someone you love in so much pain. Some days are more tiring than others, but helping [my mom] opened my eyes to tough situations more than someone who may not have to deal with someone battling sickness,” she said.
Watching the battle my mother fights every day has opened my eyes to learning quite a bit about myself as well. I learned to admire the fact that I can handle responsibility, since many of the things she usually took care of are now what my sister and I take care of. Though I have gotten used to doing things for my mother and taking care of her emotional and physical health, my mother’s unavailability to show motherly affection and attention to the extent I need it at times has changed me. Consequently, I developed the habit of keeping my feelings to myself rather than going to my mother to talk about them, and it has made me grow up faster than I would have liked.
However, just like any child would like their mother to be, she does show that she is proud, and I know without a doubt that my siblings and I are loved. Despite the responsibilities, I look for the few, yet lovable and valuable moments between us. I cherish any time I get even a hint of a homely feeling, surrounded by my mother’s emotional and physical embrace. I’ve developed the strong character of self dependency by taking care of her, and being able to pick myself up after I fall, instead of always being picked up. This character also comes with not taking anything for granted anymore because the times I am picked up and hugged by mom, I feel better than I ever have before.