A letter to my children: I’ve grieved for the mother I just can’t be to you

Dear Tate and Elsa,

I’m writing you this so that you have something you can read when you’re older.

Today isn’t a good day. So far you’ve woken me up intermittently through the night, woken me early this morning and the list of demands are already beyond what I can deal with at 9am. “Mummy I’m hungry again”, “Mummy I can’t do my socks”, “Mummy Tate push me”, “Mummaaaaay”, “I don’t want this on”, “I’m not going out”, “I want Chocolate”…”I’m want a cuggle”.

My head feels like it will explode. I want to run away to my bedroom and pretend the world doesn’t exist. I want to sleep, I want silence, I want to be at peace with my body. I want to not be here… or anywhere.

Now I need to explain myself. Mummy isn’t unhappy or upset at you. I love you more than words can say. I’m just tired of being your Mum. Again I don’t mean that in a horrible way, I just mean I’m worn out, worn down and feeling like a failure.

You guys don’t listen to me, you don’t eat all of your meals, you don’t sleep well at night and your behaviour seems to feed off of my moods. Moods I find very hard to control. You don’t need me.

I’m trying to find a way of balancing your happiness and my misery; it’s tough.

I’m sorry that I shout at you, it’s not because I’m mad at you. I’m frustrated at myself because I can’t deal with the situation in a calm manner. Believe me I’ve tried, I’ve tried so hard but pain and exhaustion are beating me. They do not allow me to be the calm person I want to be for you.

I’ve had a good cry, I’ve spoken with Daddy and as always he assures me it’ll all be fine. But what if I’m ruining your best years, what if this will have an affect on your mental health, what if you grow up resenting me. What if.

I don’t want to let you guys down and I really don’t want to be sick anymore. I had the operation to remove my ‘wiggly bit’ in the hope it would improve things.

I hoped it would solve everything. Unfortunately having an autoimmune disease doesn’t work like that. You probably hear Mummy moaning about my poorly bones and asking you not to climb on me because I hurt. After my operation, my body decided it wasn’t completely better and now my bones are poorly.

This means I’m a bit like an old lady, in that I’m slower and tired and I might need to walk with a stick or have a wheelchair some day. For now, I’m doing everything I can to make sure I can climb trees, run around and just have fun with you. It’s not so good right now but hopefully when my new medicine works, we can do more things together.

I’m sorry you spend so much time indoors.

We’re very lucky to have such nice friends and family, who either visit or take us out. I don’t know what we’d do without them. I do try to get creative with you but the fatigue just makes it so hard.

I’ll confess…I hate Playdoh! I hate sand or messy play! I hate doing puzzles… but I love you! I’ll do anything for you!

Today I’ve asked your friends over, hoping that this will occupy you and help you enjoy the sunshine. It’s the best I could do. I still really want to crawl into bed and hide. I’m so very, very tired.

I’m glad I got this off of my chest. I feel a bit lighter for now. I will feel this way again and again, many times over the years. I’ve accepted this. I’ve grieved for the Mum I can’t be, I’ve been angry, sad and now I’m at peace with this. It doesn’t make it easier but it stops me being unrealistic. I needed to tell you all of this because I’m tired of comparing myself to the healthy mothers, the earth mothers, the calm mothers, the high flying mothers. I’m not any of those.

What I am, is a moody, poorly mother who loves her kids. I try my best and I do everything I can to help other poorly people in distress. I don’t work, I don’t earn tonnes of money but I hope that the kindness I show to others, inspires you to do the same.

I’d rather you grew up being respectful and open minded, than being clad in designer clobber and ignorant to those around you in need. I hope you have a deep understanding of chronically sick people, and use that to be gentle people. Loving and caring like you are to me. I can’t change our circumstances and I am struggling but we’ll be ok. I’m not sure you need me but I do need you!

Yours lovingly,


Words by Shell Lawes

5 thoughts

  1. Thank you so much for your honesty. You have articulated so well how so many of us with chronic illness feel. Every parent feels guilt, healthy or not, but when you’re struggling to make it through the day, when you can barely look after yourself, and you are responsible for children, it can seem impossible. Stay strong. You are the best mother your kids could ever wish for, because you’re their mother, and they know how much you adore them. Lots
    of love, and thank you again. Ignore the negative comments, some people really don’t have a clue how hard it is to make it through the day.

    Liked by 2 people

  2. Beautifully written. The title alone made me cry. No one can understand the deep pain of not being the Mummy you want to be because of illness – unless you have been there. Thank you x


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