As many of you know, I have twin seven year old twin girls who have been my sidekicks since they came onto this planet. These two little beans have seen and heard more about diabetes than most nurses and but for them it just typical, regular “mom stuff”. I have realized however, that there are likely many things that happen in our house that are not the norm. To offer some insight into my kids world I complied this list of 8 things kids with a diabetic parent know that other kids could never understand.
1. Don’t Eat Mom’s Food
Most moms carry food in their bags and cars in case their kids get hungry. A diabetic mom likely has a few snacks stashed for her kids but the majority of the food in her bag is for her. My bag is consistently stocked with granola bars, fruit snacks, and glucose tablets and my kids know that this food is not to be touched unless mom says it is ok.
What’s in the bag?? 6 Must Haves In A Diabetic’s Bag
Additionally, my kids have learned not to take food from mom’s plate as I have likely taken an exact amount insulin for that food and if a little mouth eats half of it I will need to search out more food. That being said, while I may not be willing to share my food, my kids have learned to accept that their food will be given to them with one bite missing. Donuts, cookies, milkshakes, cake, etc. all come to my kids after the one bite mom test. Someday they will find a cure so I can eat a whole Grebe’s Bakery Crueller by myself…which I will not share.
2. Carbohydrates, Glucose, and Insulin Oh My!
My kids may not be able to give you a dictionary style definition of these terms but these words are a part of daily life in our house. By the age of 5 my kids had a general idea of what foods have carbohydrates and knew that my glucose meter tests the level of sugar or glucose in my blood. They know that I need insulin to eat food, that my body doesn’t make any, and that there is insulin in my pump. They also know that there is a shelf in our fridge that is only for mom’s insulin.
3. Needles Aren’t Scary, We Keep Them In Our Kitchen
I hear people talk about their fear of needles and it makes me chuckle because we have a whole shelf in our kitchen dedicated to needles and other supplies. It’s just one shelf down from the Hello Kitty plates and Star Wars spoons. Needles in our house are as common as paper towel and coffee cups. My kids have seen all the supplies needed to keep mom alive every day. Occasionally they will ask me if it hurts, but for them, watching me put a needle into my skin is no big deal. They regularly watch me test my sugars, change my sensors and infusion sets, and when my pump broke they got a front row seat to life with injections with syringes. They have a natural curiosity but nothing that stops them in their tracks.
Looking for a great way to help your little one understand diabetes? Did you know there are diabetes supplies for dolls? Such a cute idea and I wish we had these when the girls were little.
4. It Is Not Weird To See Mom’s Butt In The Kitchen
Full disclosure, my butt is a common site for my infusion sets and all my supplies are located in our kitchen so it is not uncommon to see a quick cheek flash when I’m changing a site. Just to add to the diabetes fun my kids love to yell from the living room “I see mom’s butt!!!” I’m glad this disease can bring someone joy.
Need to remove leftover adhesive from a site or a sensor?? I have the answer!!
5. It’s A Bleeder
Do your kids ever begin to tell a story to random people that makes you wish for a time when they had a three word vocabulary? You know that random tidbit they share that leaves the listener smiling politely while looking at you for some sort of explanation. The story of changing my sensor at the children’s museum is the story my kids love to drop on unsuspecting passersby.
We went to the children’s museum over Christmas Break and I knew that I would need to change my sensor that afternoon. When it came time to change my sensor we ducked into the bathroom only to find it very crowded. We tucked ourselves into a corner and I promised the kids I would be as quick as possible. My kids helped to shield me from the little eyes passing by and we were doing a pretty good job of flying under the radar until we had a bleeder.
The needle that inserts the sensor wire under my skin is quite sizable and if it doesn’t find a soft place to land or nics a capillary there are many times that it will bleed. A little bleeding is not a big issue but too much and the sensor won’t be able to read my blood sugars. This was not a little bleeding.
As I covered and caught the blood in my hands I asked the kids to grab toilet paper.
Our cover was blown as every eye under the age of 10 was now on us, and we were the main museum exhibit of the bathroom. This was not a major disaster, and with some pressure and time it stopped. We cleaned up and went on with our day at the museum. Just another day with mom.
This is a fairly simple story but the blood factor always makes a few eyebrows go up. Also, depending on the audience it requires me to come up with a compact lesson on glucose sensors and how they work.
Thanks to this episode of medical drama my kids will now check my sensor site to make sure its not a “bleeder”. Family bonding at its finest.
6. My Mom Beeps
When my husband is out of town my daughter Ellie likes to take his place in our bed. She loves everything about this rare opportunity except for the fact that her mom beeps. Her young little ears are so super sensitive that she always hears my pump alarms before I do. Instead I wake up because a little voice is next to my ear saying “Mom, your beeping.” She finds great satisfaction in hearing these beeps before I do.
She also told me once that if she ever lost me in a store she would just wait for my pump to beep and then she would know where to find me.
“Are you lost little girl?”
“No, I’m listening. When I hear the beeps I will know where to find my mom.”
7. Sometimes Mom Can’t Play
While I do my best to not allow Type 1 Diabetes to interfere with my daily life and responsibilities, this disease is unpreticalbe and life is unpredictable. There are times when my kids will ask me to help them with something or come play with them and I have to be honest with them and tell them that mom has to sit for bit due to low blood sugar. I tell them that once I eat and sit for just a bit I will be able to do whatever they needed but they have learned to wait. I do not have a choice in this matter and my kids have enough of an understanding of this disease to know that food and rest will fix me fairly quickly. In these moments I am so very grateful for kiddos who accept my answer and the situation and give me the gift of their patience.
8. This Is The Only Mom They Know
My girls entered this world with a diabetic mama and that is the only mom they have ever known. My kids don’t know a world where mom doesn’t beep and have a tube connected to her at all times. They don’t know a house without glucose tablets and a glucose meter laying on the kitchen counter.
I hope that through my condition they see that there is joy, laughter, and success despite all the pieces not being in place. On the days when diabetes makes me want to scream, I hope they see that it is ok to be mad for a bit, and that talking it out can help. Most importantly I hope that our diabetic household is teaching them that everyone has their “thing”, their struggles, and their battles. For this reason we must be kind and care for others.
There is no “perfect” or “normal”, there is only me and for two little people in my life that is enough.