Everyone knows being a mom is hard work. But I don’t think many (at least, many of those who are not moms) realize how much every day you spend as a mother puts your health at risk – literally. And not just because your children infect you with every germ that inhabits the earth. It’s the day-to-day activities you engage in while caring for those pesky little ragamuffins that put you in harm’s way.
Here are four that I, for one, believe should be recognized as official medical conditions affecting mothers:
Road Tripitis. Caused by repeated twisting into the back seat to deliver snacks, offer distractions and break up fights, this syndrome is characterized by intense lower back pain, sore oblique muscles and a permanently cricked neck. The only way to prevent this painful condition is to pass responsibility for back seat monitoring to your partner or another adult. Treatment involves a heating pad, a glass of wine (or two) and a back rub (or three).
Reflexive Toddlerese Syndrome. Because of its gradual onset, this disorder is difficult to diagnose until it has become a serious problem. In fact, it usually goes unnoticed until a mother is in an adult situation, like a business meeting or a serious interview. It manifests in different ways, but the patient will often find herself speaking in a high, sing songy voice and adding unnecessary syllables to words. Examples include “it’s time for a little luncheroo” and “don’t you wish we could have a napper?” To treat, encourage the patient to slow down and think about where she is before speaking.
Mysterious Bruisiosis. This head scratcher of a condition involves the mysterious appearance of big, colorful bruises on arms, legs, hips, stomach and other areas of the body that come into sudden and unexpected contact with corners, tables, wayward toys and even car doors. It is most commonly found on the mothers of toddlers and young children who routinely have their sleep interrupted or outright stolen, resulting in daytime clumsiness and sleep-fogged brains. Unfortunately, the only cure is time, as children eventually outgrow their need to interrupt sleep (I hope).
Phantom Baby Syndrome. This disturbing condition strikes when the mother of a young child is temporarily away from her progeny. The patient finds herself feeling strangely light and off-balance, owing to the missing weight that usually settles around her right or left hip. She is startled, confused and convinced she is missing something (or someone). To calm the afflicted mother, remind her that her child is safe – though elsewhere – and encourage her to replace the toddler’s weight with hefty shopping bags. The generous application of retail therapy is recommended.
If you have succumbed to one or more of these conditions, don’t feel bad. You’re in good company. Instead, think of them as badges of honor – and preparation for the nervous tics that the teenage years unfailingly cause.