What's A-Parent

Mom Gives Heartfelt Account Of What It's Like To Parent While Suffering From An Invisible Disease

"I’m frustrated and heartbroken that this is the life I was dealt, but I will keep fighting for my sons."

What's A-Parent is a series highlighting those who get real about the hardships that come with raising kids. These often untold stories help show parents they are not alone in their struggle, and are doing an amazing job.

Parenting is difficult enough as it is, but it's even tougher when you're struggling with chronic pain. Mom-of-two Mikenzie Oldham has spent the past 15 years waiting for a diagnosis for her debilitating pain. Recently, she got her answer. She has a condition called ankylosing spondylitis, which is a common form of arthritis that reduces flexibility in the spine and can cause pain in the back and joints. More than 200,000 people are diagnosed with the condition in the U.S. each year. 

On her Facebook page Me and all my boys, Oldham shared what's it's been like to suffer from chronic pain while raising her children. 


"When I was younger I was in dance and cheer and soccer and anything you can think of. I had a HUGE circle of friends and seemed wild and care-free," she wrote. "Along the way as I got older and had children, I realized I am not that person. I am an introvert. I enjoy snuggle time with my family. Only now the boys are getting too big and want to go out and be active. You guys ... this hurts me. Cold weather hurts me. Laying in bed hurts me. Jumping on the tailgate hurts me ... I don't want to be THIS person, I want to be THAT person."

In the post, which she wrote for her family, friends and followers to better understand her struggle, Oldham explained her arthritis has gotten extensively worse over the past five years. 

"There are days I don't want to leave my house. There are days I don't feel like I can get my kids ready for school. This isn't how I wanted it. But it's what was dealt to me thanks to genes," she wrote. "When I go out with my family, I am pretending to be this happy healthy mother. It's all a show you guys. There are events I've missed that I wish I wouldn't have had too [sic]. There are events I suck up enough meds or whatever I can find to make a somewhat happy appearance. It's a show. It's all an act." 

This, of course, isn't how she imagined her future with her husband and kids. 

"This isn't the life I wanted for my husband ... to take care of me on horrible days, to have to feed the boys or do the laundry. I never wanted my parents help at 36. I should be helping them at 70! And I sure as heck NEVER wanted my sons to see my cry bc I'm hurting so badly and they don't understand what's wrong," she continued. 

While this is her personal journey parenting with arthritis and chronic pain, Oldham acknowledges that other people are fighting invisible diseases as well. 

"We ALL have an invisible battle. Whether it's emotional stress, anxiety, depression or physical pain. It's there, lurking. Some seem to be better at coping than others," she wrote. "I'm frustrated and heartbroken that this is the life I was dealt.  But I will keep fighting for my sons. I will do whatever possible to see as many sunsets with them and jump on every tailgate. If that means resting up my energy to spend 30 quality minutes with them, I will do that. I am most of all thankful for an amazing support system who shows up to help in the biggest ways." 

Oldham's post gives an honest look at what it's like to be a parent and have a painful, invisible disease, but it also raises awareness about the fact that arthritis can affect many adults. While some people associate the condition with senior citizens, one in every five adults and 300,000 children in the U.S. have the disease, according to the Arthritis Foundation



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