a person sits in their bed and smiles at a superhero suit hung up on a hook, enjoying their rest from being a superhero

PLC: Heart Failure and Parenting Part 3 - The Marathon Continues

Last updated: August 2022

Editor's note: Check out the first two articles in this series, Heart Failure and Parenting Part 1 - The Impact, and Heart Failure and Parenting Part 2 - The New Normal.

As things continue to settle post-COVID, I am coming to terms with my own new normal. My youngest son has transferred to an out-of-state college as he prepares for the second year of his studies. This means I am officially an empty nester!

Managing parenting and heart failure

Finding our new normal

While our household managed through a pandemic during my son's last few adolescent years, I feel we were robbed by COVID. My son's high school experience was different. He did not get to enjoy the typical junior or senior years as the face-to-face engagement was limited. College tours would be ripped away, as we feared a graduation ceremony would be lost. Our greatest personal strike by COVID was yet to be known, and we would soon lose my stepfather to a diagnosis.

Even still, these interruptions did not stop us. My son would begin online courses as he transitioned from high school into his first year of college. Our online shopping experiences would begin to settle as we started to venture out. My son even began a part-time job at a local grocery store. Things were shifting in a positive direction.

The superwoman and supermother conundrum

Although things were moving in the right direction, I started to question the impact my heart failure diagnosis had on my sons throughout their lives. As a parent I had this desire to provide my children with a life greater than one I experienced. That was nearly impossible after receiving my diagnosis.

My mother made everything look effortless. While I was able to travel extensively, play numerous sports, take ballet and piano lessons as a child, I was not even able to teach my own sons how to ride a bike let alone travel the globe. My life did revolve around my children, and I provided the best I could. I even managed to pull off private school with my limited resources while coping with the effects heart failure placed on me spiritually, physically, and socially. Somehow that did not seem like enough.

All of the "what if's" began to set in. What if I could afford AAU basketball fees? Then, what if I didn't have open heart surgery when my oldest son needed me to advocate for him during his high school years? What if I was just healthy and we all lived this great uninterrupted life?

Honestly, I couldn't release all of those doubts until recently. Watching my sons continue to grow into amazing young men while finding themselves brings me comfort. As women, we tend to be superwomen and many of us place supermother expectations on ourselves. This is no different for mothers overcoming chronic illnesses such as heart failure. For me, knowing my sons are creating and embracing their own best lives gives me the freedom to remove my cape and just live.

The empty nester - my new "new normal"

Initially, I did allow those little voices to get in my head. You know, the ones that told me I would be sad, lonely, feel incomplete and yearn to feel needed. Those voices were so wrong.

With my cape removed, I am letting go. This empty nester life is great! While I miss having both of my sons nearby, I enjoy my space and my peace, groceries go a long way, and my utility bill went down. Lol.

The parenting marathon continues

The word "marathon" has been defined as long-lasting; which definitely describes parenting. However, for now I am embracing finding myself again, and living unapologetically while walking in my purpose. I love it here.

How do you manage parenting and heart failure? What tips can you share with other parents?

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