My MS Mommy Moment

Jamie Tripp Utitus
Written by
Jamie Tripp Utitus

For the most part, I don’t feel reduced or ashamed because I have multiple sclerosis. If anything, I kind of feel like a survivor. Most days I think, “I’m okay, I got this!” And even though the rest of the world may not know or understand the small heroic efforts that make up my days, I feel competent and able enough to care for my family and myself. That is until recently, when my confidence was shaken and I was stopped in my tracks by all things - a childproof medicine bottle.

Let me go back. Saturday stunk. My husband left at around 4 a.m. for a bike race that was a few hours away. No sooner had his car pulled out of the driveway, that my little daughter Zoe runs for the bathroom to vomit. I run to the bathroom and hold her hair. All I could think of was, “She’s on fire!” I hold her hair back until she is done. I sing her songs she’s much too old for now, but she still longs for them in moments like this, and then it stopped. I brought her to the couch and read to her until she was almost to that place between here and dreams. I felt her again and she was still burning, I realized it was time for medicine. Her face was flushed and I could see her heart beating through her chest. She looked so small.

I went into the kitchen and pulled out the bottle, and shocker, there’s a childproof cap on it. For over 30 minutes I tried to open that bottle. No luck. If will and focus alone could do it, I would have won. But my weakened MS grip would not allow it. When I realized that I am no longer able to open a simple bottle of medicine to help my child, THAT is the moment that I felt overwhelmingly and deeply ashamed of my MS. And I was alone, with no help. To be a useful mother, you need to feel strong and able to take care of your kids’ needs at any time. At moments like this, I recognize that MS has robbed me.

We have just moved to a new neighborhood. I can’t lie, my neighbors have been kind, but they all live in very important houses, they drive important cars to their important jobs. It just never feels like me. There’s a wall between us that I can’t seem to scale, and for that reason I do not ask them for assistance, or carpools or favors like other moms sometimes do. But this was about my child being sick. My husband was gone. I had no choice but to swallow my pride and scale that wall on this day.

I saw my neighbor across the street coming back from a workout. I yelled for her frantically, I asked her to please wait as I hurried back in to get the bottle. She had already started crossing to my yard. I smelled like vomit. I was in jammies. My hair looked like a mop, tied into a messy bun on my head. I felt ashamed to have to even ask her, and I looked down at my feet when I spoke. She opened it, effortlessly.

Then she did the unthinkable; she asked me for a hug. I was mortified. Had she seen me? More significantly, had she smelled me? I’m fairly certain I had vomit in my hair. But I’m a hugger and I was moved by the request, so I went in for the hug. No make-up, vomit and all. As I got closer, I could see, she didn’t have make up on either. She was sweaty from her workout. She did not care. She’s never looked more beautiful to me than at that moment. I don’t know that any woman ever has.

I went inside and gave my daughter her medicine and then I cried. I was grateful for her compassion, and I realized that maybe it wasn’t my MS after all. No make-up. Vomit and sweat. No fancy cars or big houses or even MS between us. It was like I saw her for the first time and for the first time I let someone see me. No differences between us, except that she could open a child-proof bottle and I could not. I couldn’t have been happier for that difference.

Related Articles

Going from MS to MRS.

Going from MS to MRS.

Do women with MS have more to navigate during the first year of marriage? Donna offers some points to consider that may help your transition to MRS.

read more
Donna Sullivan
Written by
Donna Sullivan

Chronic Illness and the Secret of The Supermum: What You Need To Know

We’re all Supermums in our own way! Donna has some tips for how you can manage life as a mom with MS.

read more
Donna Sullivan
Written by
Donna Sullivan
Talking About The Embarrassing Stuff  – How to Talk to Your Doctor About MS Without Blushing

Talking About The Embarrassing Stuff – How to Talk to Your Doctor About MS Without Blushing

It’s not always easy to talk to your doctor about the embarrassing symptoms of MS – how do you casually bring up bladder dysfunction or sexual issues?

read more
Donna Sullivan
Written by
Donna Sullivan
This website intends to use cookies to improve the site and your experience. By continuing to browse the site, you are agreeing to accept our use of cookies. If you require further information and/or do not wish to have cookies placed when using the site click here: About Cookies.
Don't show me this again