Imagine you’re a parent on a Saturday morning and it’s your turn to wake up early with the kids. Of course you’re tired when you get up -- you’ve been tired since you became a parent!
You smile when you see them in their cute pajamas. You brush their teeth and head to the kitchen to make them breakfast while they watch cartoons. They start fighting and you go into mediator mode, while ensuring the pancakes on the skillet don’t burn.
They eat happily and are messy -- as expected when you give little ones pancakes with syrup. It’s time to change them out of sticky pajamas and into their outfits for the day.
Fast forward a few hours and you’re tired and need a break, which you can take during nap time after you feed the kids lunch.
Fast forward more and it’s the evening, which means cooking dinner, feeding kids, bath time, bedtime, and the post-bedtime kid shenanigans that follow. At that point, you can finally relax until you go to bed and do it all again the next day.
Being a mom with atopic dermatitis (AD) or eczema is like that -- except you’re doing it all while also being itchy. Although my daily routine and activities will change as my children grow, I’ll likely always be itchy.
Eczema Can Scare Children
My children are Nico Atlas, 2, and Nina Sol, 4. I can’t hide my eczema from my children. Their experience with my eczema will evolve as they get older.
Nina was a baby when she and my husband joined me at my allergist’s office for an allergy skin prick test on my back. This test should instead be called the skin stabbing test, because it’s painful! But with my baby girl next to me, I knew I had to be extra tolerant and calm to not scare her.
Throughout the years, I’ve been careful to not bleed in front of her because blood can be scary for kids. Most important, I’ve been open with my children about my eczema. Nina knows that I have eczema, because when she was younger she asked me why I had polka dots on my body (so cute!). I told her it was my eczema.
When Nico gets older, I’ll tell him, too. Eczema shouldn’t be scary, but it can seem that way to kids when they’re confused or uninformed.
Eczema Affects Your Family Activities
Chronic eczema affects my daily life. As a parent, this means my family may be affected by my condition. Do the kids want to walk outside on a sizzling hot day when my eczema is flared? Maybe we’ll do something indoors instead.
How about getting in the pool with the children? Some days, it’s best to not get wet. But it’s OK. We just do a different fun activity that won’t worsen my skin. The kids will be just as giddy.
There are, however, some activities that eczema fighters must do even if it will hurt a bit. For example, even if my forearms are flared, I’m still going to give my kids a bath. This means my arms will hurt as I dip them in the water. Stinging arms aren’t a big deal to me when I get to enjoy watching my babies play in a bubble bath. Now, if my eczema is severe, I’ll ask my husband to do the bath.
Children’s Compassion Helps
One of the wonderful perks of being a parent to little kids is being showered by their unconditional love and affection. Since my daughter was almost 3, she showed deep empathy and support for me when I was itchy.
At a very young age, she began telling me that I shouldn’t scratch and should tap instead. (Only my adorable toddler can tell me not to scratch!) Last year, my back was unbearably itchy during an allergy patch test and Nina was especially supportive, checking in on me and asking when the test would be over. My 4-year-old helped me get through gruesomely itchy 4 days.
Having chronic eczema can be hard as a mom, but the support from my adorable cheerleaders makes me stronger. I also keep things in perspective with gratitude. I focus on the special moments with my children. Ultimately, I’m most grateful that it’s my body with eczema and not my children’s skin. I am, after all, a mother above all and want the best for my babies.
Photo credit: Anastasia Malachi/iStock via Getty Images