Acceptance Is Like An Onion...

According to Google:

Definition of Acceptance:

Acceptance is the agreement with or belief in an idea, opinion or explanation.


Belief in, trust in, faith in, confidence in, credence in giving of credence to.

It has been my experience that acceptance of my son’s diabetes diagnosis has not been static. It has most definitely been a continuous process. I think at times I thought I had “arrived” only to realize there was another layer of the acceptance onion to peel. You know how onions have layers upon layers that can be peeled thinly or thickly, but more layers nonetheless? Well this has been my experience with accepting my son’s diabetes diagnosis.

When he was first diagnosed I had to accept that he HAD diabetes. I had to ACCEPT that our lives were different. Our money was going to be utilized differently. Our time was going to be managed differently. Our meals would be different. However, I hadn’t really thought about the fact that spending time with family and friends would be different. Flying on a plane would be different. Taking a road trip would be different. The first day of school and everyday thereafter would be different. My relationships with school staff and administrators would be different. Going out to dinner would be different. Taking a bike ride to the park would be different. Going shopping would be different.

I don’t mean to bore you with all these details but this is just the tip of the iceberg of things that are now different due to diabetes. After our son’s diagnosis I accepted that he had diabetes. I had to in order to keep him healthy and alive but that didn’t mean it was easy. One of the biggest "accept moments" I've had was trying really hard to make things fair for him.  I tried as much and as often as I could, that was until I couldn’t.

I remember this time when we had come from a party and Devin wanted to eat something sweet in his goodie bag. I told him that he needed to wait until the next day for us to add it into his meal because he had just eaten all kinds of stuff at the party. In addition to the fact that I did not want to be up all night chasing highs. However, 20 minutes went by and my daughter asked for the exact same thing and before I realized it I had said yes. My son quickly deduced that his sister had eaten the same things as he had. Almost immediately he called me on it saying “that's NOT FAIR! She gets to eat her treat and I can’t?"

I was driving down the street and we were almost home. I sat and stared at the red light ahead of me as my heart broke into a million tiny pieces. Because he was right! I had told him no, but told her yes. Was it fair that she got to eat the treat but he didn’t? Was it fair to say no to her (a non-diabetic) just because he couldn’t have his? What was actually FAIR? I paused for a few minutes and then said, “You know what Devin, you are right. IT IS NOT FAIR! But you know what son things can’t always be fair.” It is just not how life works." 

I recall saying, "Let’s think about it honestly. I try very hard, going to great lengths to make sure things are fair at home. I take teachers and other caregivers to task for not being mindful of your needs and for not being fair. Do I or do I not? He replied with a sad and deflated "Yes!" It is not fair that diabetes happened to you and to our family but there is not much we can do about that. But what is true here is that I am your parent and It is my job to keep you healthy and alive and I would not be doing my job to allow you to eat that extra treat. It would just be too much. I want to say YES, but I can’t. It would not be responsible of me as your parent. So, THIS TIME, I can’t make it FAIR! But I need you to know that I LOVE you and I will continue to strive to make things as fair as I can, but right now it is not fair to tell your sister no, just because it isn’t the right thing for you. She often has to go without things because you can’t have it. She sacrifices a lot daily also. So, for today I have to be your parent and I have to make the hard choices and I have to say no right now, but you can have it tomorrow. I PROMISE."

I know to some, this was way over the top and too much conversation to have with a (then) nine year old about my parental decision. However, just because he was nine didn’t mean he was devoid of feelings and the ability to comprehend. I need him to understand "why" we make the choices we make, so when he is a teen or an adult on his own, he’ll be able to make similar decisions for himself. I needed him to know that more than anything on this earth I want to make everything fair but it just isn’t possible. Throughout his life there will be many more unfair situations.  The biggest thing for me was the complexity involved in saying NO in this moment. I was wrecking my brain trying to find a way to say YES and make it RIGHT, but I couldn’t. There was no way to make 2+2=25.

I was faced with another onion peeling moment, where I had to ACCEPT that I can’t always make things fair. Had I not accepted this truth I would have allowed the extra treat and it would have been a disaster overnight. I’ve done it many times before thinking I could make it work, when in actuality I couldn’t. This experience was important because I didn’t expect to have to ACCEPT something else. I thought I was done with acceptance a few weeks after we left the hospital. I have come to learn that any time I start struggling with aspects of his condition, I probably need to ACCEPT a new TRUTH!! Once I identify and accept that new truth the problem no longer exists or at least gets easier.

Acceptance is required of everyone. It's not just for Type 1's or Type 2's or the parents or caregivers. Diabetes affects the entire family, basically everyone in your inner circle. In order to fully transition through the new situations and problems yet to arise you must be open to the notion that acceptance is continuous. If we don’t accept the “truths” of our situations as they arise it will negatively impact the decisions, we need to make. Diabetes is ever changing, our children are growing, our parents are aging and these changes affect EVERYTHING!

So, keep peeling your onion of acceptance. Although you may cry through some of the layers, it will only make you stronger!

Be well & Test often,


P.S. What struggles could be made easier in your life as a result of acceptance?

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