Three panels show a man taking food out of the oven, sitting on a toilet as knocks come through the door, and playing on the floor with a toy car

Raising Kids With IBS Can Be Difficult

My heart truly goes out to those who are single parents and struggling because having children is not and should never be a 1-person job. However, even having a partner sometimes is not enough. It truly takes a whole village to raise a child, better yet children, while trying to maintain a financially stable and balanced lifestyle. And because I suffer from severe IBS, it is very important for me to have familial support in raising my children.

As much as this reality hurts because I don't want to put the burden of raising my kids on anyone else besides my wife and me (since we were the ones that created them), I also feel like I would not be a best or most effective parent as I would like to be without help. Raising kids alone is difficult but having a chronic or disabling condition that affects your everyday life just adds an extra layer of complexity.

Daily life as a parent with two kids

Literally every single day, I feel exhausted, and some part of my body hurts. Most days involve me being on the toilet for long periods of time, but they also involve cooking for, cleaning, bathing, feeding, dropping off, and picking up my kids. And that's just doing the bare minimum for them. However, imagine being faced with a choice between having to take care of your children's needs and having your urgent need to use the toilet to relieve your pain.

If it were up to me, I'd choose my kids every time over dealing with my pain, obviously, but the pain isn't always tolerable and after a while builds up to a point where I just want to scream or cry in frustration. It can feel like you're getting punched in the gut numerous times by Mike Tyson in his prime. Or, like you swallowed a single blade and it is making its way through your stomach, intestines and, eventually, it hits your rectum. Not a pretty image, but that's my painful reality, and unfortunately, there are times I must choose between that agony and my children's needs.

My children come first

Let's be honest, most times, there's no choosing. My children, for the most part, will always come first. And once I'm done taking care of their needs, then I take care of my own. Sometimes, I even choose to inconvenience myself by planning out when I can use the bathroom ahead of time. For instance, every so often, I'll wake up earlier than I need to just to have enough time to myself on the toilet before anybody else wakes up and has to use it themselves. One thing about me while I'm on the toilet is that I hate to be rushed or interrupted. Needless to say, going in public can be an issue for me, and I blame my IBS for that.

Parenting with severe IBS

Nonetheless, I could go on and on about the trials and tribulations I have when it comes to parenting with severe IBS. However, I wouldn't say I like to dwell on the negative because that means my focus is misplaced. Raising kids with IBS is difficult, but having their company truly makes me feel less alone at times. There are times when I am struggling with my condition or whatever stress and feeling down, and my kids, out of nowhere, will come to me and just love on me through hugs, cuddles, and kisses. I LOVE, LOVE, LOVE that!

As much nurturing as my wife and I do to them, our kids have caught on and learned how to reciprocate that. It can be stressful at times constantly worry about if you're doing this whole parenting thing correctly or feeling guilty at times when you're not at your best. It's rewarding and joyful when you begin to see the best parts of yourself (and your partner) flourish in your children. Their silly personalities, creativity, and curiosity bring out my inner child and give me the fuel I need to keep going every day.

Adjustments

Living with IBS before having kids was challenging, but I eventually adjusted. From dropping out of school and losing jobs due to my chronic condition to learning new skills and creating a career where I can work from home and have a flexible schedule was and still is an accomplishment for me. I can't help but feel like being a parent will be one of the greatest achievements of my lifetime. However, living with IBS while having kids introduced a-whole-new learning curve that I'm still learning to adjust to. One lesson I've learned along the way is to take all the help you can get, especially when it is offered by those who truly love you and your little ones.

We all need a break from the responsibility of parenting, even if it's only for a few hours a day or one weekend a month. So, it's alright to lean on others from time to time just for a moment to breathe or simply rest and recover. No one should have to do it all alone, yet still, some people do, and I commend them for that. My little family means so much to me; having them by my side while I fight every day for better health makes life much more worthwhile.

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