I am a senior on Medicare and in a few weeks will have lived with Type 1 Diabetes for 46 years.
Stacey Simms is the mother of a son Bennie who has had Type 1 diabetes since the age of 23 months and is now a senior in high school.
Stacey writes about parenting a child with diabetes and I write about living with diabetes. She is active on Facebook. I am active on Facebook. She is nice and supportive of other people affected by diabetes. I try to be nice and supportive of others. She is a podcaster and has written her second book. I…um…well…haven’t written any books although I was once a guest on the long-ago #DSMA podcast with Cherise, Scott, and George….
I was given the opportunity to read and review Stacey’s second book, Still The World’s Worst Diabetes Mom. In general I turn down most opportunities of free stuff because although I usually write favorable reviews, I rarely (or never) continue to use the reviewed product. It seems a bit fraudulent to advertise things to my readers that I don’t use. But books are different. It is a rare book about diabetes that I don’t learn from or at least get inspiration from. Plus I want to support the authors of the Diabetes Online Community (DOC).
I purchased Stacey’s first book published in 2019, The World’s Worst Diabetes Mom. I enjoyed it and found her openness about mistakes refreshing and amusing. Most of her story wasn’t my story. I was diagnosed with Type 1 as a young adult and never lived as a child with diabetes, much less a toddler with diabetes. I never had a parent caring for my diabetes. Every day I give thanks that I am not the parent of a child or grandchild with diabetes. There was no Internet or social media for my first 20 years living with diabetes. I had no pressure to be perfect and I didn’t share my journey with anyone. I made lots of mistakes and still make lots of mistakes. For some reason, I find Stacey’s mistakes funnier than mine.
Stacey lives in the online diabetes parenting world where there are illusions of perfection and pressures to live up to that standard. Years ago someone on Facebook accused her of being an awful parent and things got a bit ugly. Rather than continuing the argument, Stacey embraced the criticism and came to terms with being the world’s worst diabetes mom.
Stacey is not a negligent or uninvolved parent. In fact she is the opposite. But she has firmly established her diabetes and parenting philosophy as “not perfect, but safe and happy.” This mantra has matured from her first book to her second as her son has grown up and she has grown as a diabetes parent. The second book chronicles a lot of her son’s journey from Mom and Dad being in charge to him being the pilot of his D-world. More of the D-mistakes and D-victories in this second book belong to Bennie and fewer to his parents. In my opinion that is exactly what a D-parent should hope for their child. But for sure it is not easy for a parent to step back and let the child manage the disease. Especially a disease where mistakes are par for the course and there are 42 factors that affect blood sugar results.
My favorite part of Still The World’s Worst Diabetes Mom are the pages with words of wisdom that precede every chapter. The chapter titles in the book are standard topics for books about Type 1 diabetes. Things like School Days, Choosing an Insulin Pump, The Numbers Game, etc. But the introductory sentences are heartfelt and it is those blurbs that link Stacey’s journey as a parent to mine as a person with diabetes.
For example, although Chapter 5 is titled “Reframe Your Diabetes Parent Brain,” the introductory words shown below are incredibly relevant to my senior life with diabetes.
I simultaneously struggle with and accept my inability to be perfect with diabetes and have frequently wondered “How Good” do I have to be. I suppose this dilemma is even harder for parents who of course want the best for their child. What parent doesn’t want their child to have a perfect life with perfect blood glucose numbers! It is not my job to give parents advice except to remind them that with today’s insulin and technology, their child’s worst days are usually better than the best days of we seniors 40, 50, and 60+ years ago. And lots of us are doing fine. Their child can probably do well and be healthy even if things aren’t perfect. But complications do happen and unfortunately parents don’t have a Magic 8 Ball to predict the future. I applaud Stacey’s “not perfect, but safe and happy” philosophy. But that doesn’t mean I live in that spot on the diabetes perfection continuum. My endocrinologist says that I am doing great and my numbers are in range. But I find it too easy to remember the failures and not the safe and happy.
In summary, most of us in the diabetes community will read and enjoy Stacey’s book and come away being kinder to ourselves and to each other. For sure a sense of humor helps keep diabetes in perspective. Until then I recommend that you keep up the good fight for yourself and your children. Aim high but remember that “not perfect, but safe and happy” is a good place to be.
Still The World’s Worst Diabetes Mom will be available at Amazon and other book outlets on November 1. if you’d like to preorder the book, go to the Diabetes Connections Book Store. Use the promo code “spooky” for $3 off in October.