I missed my child’s birthday party. My car did not breakdown, and no, Tom Hiddleston did not invite me out for tea. Truly, I’d have walked barefoot through a snowstorm to watch my kid eat too much cake. A tea party with Mr. Hiddleston is a good reason, but not a good enough reason. I’d do anything for my son. There’s just one thing I can’t do and that’s live life through a migraine. I had one the day of his party.
During a full-blown migraine episode, a whisper is enough to make me vomit, my head feels like I’m trying to pan fry it and I avoid light. I lay in a darkened bedroom wishing for a new brain—preferably one that’s better in math with a better memory.
When I first started having hormonal migraines, I was able to push through them, but as I’ve aged they’ve gotten more intense and more frequent. Advil and hot baths do not help. Nor would removing my eyeballs from their sockets, if I decided to go that route. I can no longer function while having a migraine. I’m one of 28 million women suffering with this invisible condition and, while I may be in good company, this information does nothing to comfort my now 5-year-old.
My son and I spent the actual day of his birth together celebrating, but on the day of his party, I was in the throws of a 48-hour migraine episode. I’d tried every trick to get rid of the pain—short of removing my head. I knew I wouldn’t survive a trip to see a giant singing rat without a trip to see the ER. My mom guilt, mixed with self-loathing, turned the searing pain in my head and made my stomach turn more violently. Maybe I could do it. Surly, I wouldn’t be the first human who’d vomited all over skee balls and cheese pizza slices.
My mom guilt, mixed with self-loathing, turned the searing pain in my head and made my stomach turn more violently.
I tried to move. I ran to the bathroom instead.
I told my husband I had to stay home, and now I had to tell my son.
“Honey, my head still hurts," I began. "I have to stay home so I won’t be able to go to the party. I’ll be here when you get back and I can’t wait for you to tell me all about it.”
I was a disappointment. I would cry about it later, when my head let me. Now I waited for his tears or the red face of anger to show itself, but it didn’t. Instead a small hand rubbed my shoulder and, without malice or sadness, my son said, “That’s OK, Mom.”
My chronic condition wipes days away from my calendar. I feel I am the greatest of disappointments to my family and friends and worst of all, to my son. This is an unforgivable quality for me as a mother. My little guy has never known me without my migraines and I want desperately to be that for him: a mother with no health limits. My health may be limited by my chronic condition, but luckily my son’s big heart is limitless. On a daily basis, he shows me more forgiveness than I show myself. I am in awe of his boundless heart.
Later, when I was feeling well, we cuddled and talked about his party while he showed me pictures. Through every step of our relationship his tiny affirmations of love and acceptance surprise me. They lift me up when I feel this painful disorder may take me down. My migraines may not be OK, but my son is teaching me what true acceptance is and that’s more than OK with me.