And am I to blame?
Remember my conversation with Pat Conroy and his lovely wife, Cassandra King? I was fortunate enough to met them during my IDEAL (Intensive, Diabetes Education Awareness Lifestyle) appointment. Thinking back on our conversation, the part I remember the most is when Mr. Conroy expressed his frustration toward his father for never telling him that he had diabetes. Mr. Conroy laughed in a bitter kind of a way about how his Dad had failed to mention that he’d been living with type 2 for years when Pat himself was diagnosed. He wondered aloud about the kind of changes he might have made to his diet if he’d known he was directly at risk, if he’d known his father had type 2. When he said that, I felt the conversation change. We were no longer two people commiserating about diabetes, he was on one side of the table, and I was on the other. I was the mother with diabetes, the mother, like Pat Conroy’s father, possibly passing this disease onto my children…
When I take my boys to Krispy Kreme, I think about Pat Conroy. When I give in to the sugary snacks they beg for, I think about Pat’s bitter laugh.
Studies show that offspring of mothers with type 1 are at a higher risk of developing diabetes, type 1 and/or type 2, than children whose mothers do not.
What is my responsibility to my children as a mother with type 1 diabetes? Does my genetic make-up put me in a different category here too? I worked so hard during my pregnancies to give them the healthiest environment so they could grow strong, and have the best chance at life. I want to give my children the benefit of eating the foods that they love without having to measure, count and weigh the consequences. I want my children to eat freely, to think of food as a pleasure, not a system of rewards and punishments like I do. I thought that I could give them that gift. But maybe because they are my children, I owe them more.
I don’t want my kids to end up like Pat Conroy, frustrated because I didn’t warn them about the risks running through their genes. But what does that mean? Does that mean my boys bodies are ticking time bombs? Does that mean I need to start saying, “Mommy can’t have an ice cream because of diabetes and because you’re my babies, you can’t either.”