Talking to others about MS

There comes a time to reveal a difficult diagnosis to those outside the immediate family.

This can be a stressful or liberating experience. Friends may have suspected all along or been completely surprised by the information shared with them.

Revealing your diagnosis is an intimate act because you are sharing something personal with a friend in the hopes they will be supportive.

Because we cannot control others’ reactions after such a revelation, waiting until you are ready to talk is extremely important for your emotional health.

When to Say Something

First of all: you do not owe an explanation for your health. If you choose to divulge your diagnosis, that is a decision only you can make. Do not let anyone else force the matter from you.

If someone is visibly unwell and been so for a while, it may be harder to keep diagnostic information from others, particularly if treatment starts. It may be a relief in telling others because there is finally some information to share, but don’t be surprised if holding onto that information a little longer is more important.

While there might be a temptation to tell people immediately after the diagnosis, waiting until the information is processed is best. It allows for better preparation both with reactions and questions. Knowing which friends can handle the information with care and sensitivity helps in deciding who gets what information first.

But there may be some friends, despite waiting until you are ready, that may scale back the friendship because they don’t know how to handle your diagnosis. This hurts, but being ready for it will help mitigate the pain versus being blindsided. I made this mistake a few times and each time I wish I had waited to reveal my diagnosis or not bothered at all.

Only you will know the right time to divulge information, there isn’t a magic number or “best by” date to tell others.

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A Different Type of Love

A few months before I met Ash, I had an acquaintance confide in me that they didn’t love their partner as much as they loved their newborn.

The love, they said, for their partner was replaced with a deeper love for the baby.

They felt guilty by this shift in the relationship, but knew that this was necessary to being a good parent.

I wasn’t sure how to respond because I wasn’t a parent and I wasn’t in a relationship, so I did what any awkward single person would do: I nodded and affirmed that they had nothing to feel guilty about. It made perfect sense to me: love for a partner could easily be replaced with love for a child. Biologically, we are geared towards wanting to care for our offspring more in order to ensure its survival into adulthood.

They were talking about simple biology and I had no reason to disagree. I asked if they told their partner about this shift in relationship dynamics. They hadn’t at the time, but that was a very difficult conversation, so I didn’t blame them.

Now that I am nearly a year-and-a-half into parenthood, I remembered our conversation: the aquaintance wasn’t wrong about the shifting love. The love I have for Jai is deeper than the love I have for Ash, but it is a different type of love.

I still love Ash deeply, more so every day because of all that he does for his family, but the love I have for Ash is completely different from the love I have for Jai.

Different Types of Love

Psychologically speaking, there are 7 different types of love. For Ash, my love is more nuanced and a combination of erosludusand pragma. Whereas my love for Jai is storge and therefore completely platonic in nature.

So it isn’t that I love Ash or Jai more/equally I just cannot compare or measure the love for either because the love is so different.

The fact that my acquaintance was concerned about this conundrum is not unusual: there are plenty of forum posts and articles out there where mothers admit to loving their children more than their partners.

Unfortunately, what does not seem to be addressed is that the love between partners and the love between parent/child has to be different. I feel like this is obvious, but there shouldn’t be the same sort of sexual feelings for the child that would happen with a partner.

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Compassionate Parenting: Mindfulness and the Child

This is the second week in a 3-week series on parenting observations. Week one is based on gentle parenting, week two is about parenting with compassion, and week three is about parenting with a disability.

These posts are based on my personal experiences as a parent and are not meant in any way to judge other parenting styles or decisions. I am offering my personal research and conclusions as possible suggestions for others out there, therefore these posts will be as objective as possible. When it comes to parenting: provided the method isn’t abusive, there really isn’t a wrong way to parent your child. Be secure and do what works best for you and your family and ignore outside judgment.


Being a parent or caretaker requires a level of compassion that is almost second nature from the beginning. It’s as if when the child is handed over, they also hand over the inherent tools needed to be loving, compassionate, and caring for the little one.

Just kidding. That’s the narrative we’re told when we’re about to become parents.

That isn’t actually the case: it takes time to fall in love with this new human being. While some things do come naturally, being compassionate may take longer to foster and that’s okay. Compassion isn’t given, it’s developed through a lifetime of experiences.

Going several months with sleep deprivation makes it hard to want to understand what’s going on inside the little one’s head, but it’s something to consider, especially when they won’t stop screaming.

In a child’s ugliest moments, it is important to see things from their perspective to better serve their needs. As with Gentle Parenting, this isn’t about being permissive, but finding ways to use available parental tools in the most effective way.

Nota bene: This post will be using the universal “you/second person” pronouns throughout, so while it may not speak to your experience directly, it may apply to someone else you know.

The Difficulties of Growing Up

Understanding babies and toddlers is a rather foreign concept. As adults, we are furthest away from them developmentally as possible. Teenagers can be easier to understand, if only because we may have recently come out of that developmental stage.
Toddlers have a difficult life.
As silly as that sounds, it is true when looking at things from their perspective. Several years ago, before I even thought of having Jai, I read a post about how hard toddler’s have it. I haven’t been able to find the exact article, but there are others out there with the same concept. It talks about life from a toddler’s perspective and speculates what they might be thinking.
Life From a Toddler’s Perspective:
  • You can understand most, if not all, of the words spoken to you, but you have limited ability to respond in a way that your caretakers understand. Certain noises or actions will elicit responses, and while they may not be an effective way to get your needs met, it gets the ball rolling.
  • You rarely have a say in anything. You could be playing with a toy, watching your favorite show, eating your snack, and your caretaker picks you up and asserts their will on you in some manner. Moves you to another room. Straps you into a chair. Changes your diaper. You did not want or ask for any of this.
  • Once more: you don’t have a say. There’s food put in front of you and you don’t like the taste or are bored with it. But your caretaker won’t let you out of your chair until you consume an arbitrary amount. You are put in your crib for a nap, but you don’t feel tired and don’t want to be left alone.
  • Rules are abstract concepts. You want to explore and try everything now that you are mobile, but every time you get close to something interesting you get yelled at or moved. You eventually get that something is “no,” but that’s a “no” in the moment and may not be a “no” in a while. So you want to test to see if there’s consistency.
  • There is no concept of self-preservation. You can walk and you see your caretakers go down stairs, why can’t you on your own? Now they get upset when you venture too close.
  • There is no concept of ownership. Everything your caretaker has is yours and everything of yours is yours and everything the other little human you’ve been brought to see is yours, and now there’s crying and you don’t understand why your caretaker is being stern with you for taking that toy.
  • Emotions are new and shift everyday. You don’t understand what they mean or why you feel this way. The only way to feel better is to have an outward release of those emotions by yelling, crying, or throwing something because why not? This causes your caretaker to react in ways you don’t understand.
  • In the same vein, learning happens all the time, but you don’t understand your limitations. You see your caretaker do something or an older child do something that you want to do, but you aren’t able to do it in the same way when you try which is very frustrating.
The list can go on and on, but the point is made: it’s difficult to be a toddler when it’s hard to understand what is going on and you don’t have the tools to manage it.
Keeping these ideas in mind when dealing with a little one will help raise personal awareness and compassion for your child. Essentially every part of being a toddler is frustration, from not being able to understand to not being able to manage emotions. When they are throwing a tantrum or being resistant, it’s nothing personal to the caretaker, it’s because they are incapable of managing their feelings the way adults have been trained to do.
Therefore when confronted with a toddler’s frustration, the adult can take a step back and be compassionate to what might be upsetting their little one.

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