I went ahead and titled this post ‘Pet Peeve #1’ because, if I’m being honest, I know I have WAY more than just 1 pet peeve, and therefore should exercise some titling forethought. So… right. What was my pet peeve again? Oh yeah! The very well-known and ill-fated phrase
“well he doesn’t look sick”.
For anyone with a chronic illness, especially of the autoimmune variety, this phrase is all too familiar. It can come in many forms, but the basic message is the same:
“He doesn’t have a bunch of tubes coming out of him or some type of severe physical malformation, so his disease must not be THAT serious. You are being dramatic.”
I know, I know. Not everyone means it that way when they say it; but, as a mom who has to face down my son’s illness day in and day out, I’m a little sensitive to it being belittled. The fact is, no, he doesn’t always look like he’s having that much difficulty. When you see him out on the playground, playing with the other kids, running and jumping, and having a grand ol’ time, he looks perfectly normal. What you don’t see, is that we’ve only actually been at that playground for 15 minutes when he says he’s tired and wants to go home. What you don’t see, is when we get home from that playground he will be too stiff to walk into the house on his own. What you don’t see, is the three hour nap his body has to take to make up for that 15 minutes of running and jumping.
So for all intent and purposes, you’re right. He doesn’t look sick for the small portion of time that you saw him, and most of the time, I know that your words aren’t meant to be hurtful; but, just as a general recommendation, maybe consider taking that phrase out of your vocabulary. We might avoid some unexpected mommy breakdowns at the playground that way.