Got questions about life with diabetes? So do we! That's why we offer our weekly diabetes advice column, Ask D'Mine, hosted by veteran type 1 and diabetes author Wil Dubois in New Mexico.

Just in time for Mother's Day this weekend, Wil takes on a question about those special "mom moments" in life with diabetes, and how all the D-sons and daughters out there can show their appreciation.


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Frances, type 1 from Colorado, asks: How can I ever repay my mom for all she’s done for me? I was dx’d really young. She gave me my shots, counted my carbs, poked my finger in the middle of the night. Looking back on it, her life ended when my diabetes began.


Wil@Ask D’Mine answers: I’m guessing that you don’t have kids of your own yet, so you won’t truly understand this until you do, but trust me when I say that you don’t need to “repay” her.

She simply did what mothers do.

Mothers do what needs to be done for their children. And while some mothers have it “easier” than others, I suppose, but there’s nothing simple in the job description. 

Actually, I’d bet that most moms, both D-moms and the garden-variety sort, would be incensed at the idea that they need to be repaid. They want to be appreciated and intermittently thanked for sure, but this isn’t a businesses transaction. This goes much deeper. Motherhood is biologically, genetically, instinctively, and socially hard-wired into women’s brains (and to a lesser extent, to men’s brains too, but as this is Mother’s Day eve, I’m sticking to the folks with two X chromosomes today).

But let’s step back and look specifically at D-moms for a moment. Is their job significantly harder than that of other moms? Let me put on my Nomex flame-proof jump suit, because I’m going to go out on a limb and say, “no.” 

Hear me out. 

First, let me be clear: I’m not belittling the incredibly hard work of D-moms, nor the energy it requires. It’s a bad gig. Long hours. Lots of stress. And unpredictable results. If you calculate the insulin dose wrong, you can hurt your kid. Hell, even if you do it right, diabetes does its own thing anyway, and your kid might get hurt. So it’s one of those jobs in which you have all the responsibility yet none of the authority. Normally, if you get a job like that you tell the boss to “shove it” and you move on.

Motherhood, however, doesn’t allow for that. 

And not to depress people further, but despite the tremendous gains we’ve made as a species in preserving our young over the last 200 years, there’s still no end to the causes of potential heartache that can befall a family which will create monstrous challenges to mothers. Autism comes to mind. Cerebral palsy. Leukemia. The list goes on. Even the mothers of perfectly healthy children have never-ending challenges ranging from scraped knees, to broken hearts, to school violence.

Motherhood is not for wimps.

My point is this: Yes, your diabetes made motherhood tough for your mom. But it was a tough job in the first place. The diabetes is a unique challenge, granted, but all mothers face an unbelievable range of challenges in raising their children. 

So with that in mind, in hindsight, you are feeling she had it uniquely rough. I wouldn’t be surprised if at the time, she might have agreed. But I wonder how she feels now?

She did what she needed to do and look, she succeeded. What a reward! You are all grown up, and a decent enough person to worry about how your childhood disease affected her life. I’m not sure she’d agree with you that her life ended with your diabetes. It changed, for sure. It got more intense, perhaps. But it didn’t end. And she poured her motherly love into doing what needed to be done.

Moms are pretty amazing that way. 

So no matter who you are, PWD since childhood, PWD as adult, or sugar-normal, you DO owe a debt of gratitude to your mother for all her hard work. But it’s not a debt that can be, nor should be, repaid.

So what the heck should you do to honor her then? Well, if you are a woman, you can pay if forward by doing the best job you can when it’s your turn to be a mother. If you are a man, you can pay it forward by helping the mother of your child(ren) in every way you can to lighten the load. 

Still, while true repayment isn’t an option, and isn’t expected, that doesn’t mean that acknowledgement isn’t in order. Who doesn’t like to be recognized for a job well done? But, frankly, I’m not a big fan of waiting for Mother’s Day for that purpose.

Sure, buy your mom some jewelry, flowers, or candy if you want. OK, get her a sappy Hallmark card. Take her to dinner. Those are nice ways to pamper someone. But keep in mind you shouldn’t need an official, consecrated holiday to remind you to thank your mother for all she’s done, fer God’s sake.

If that’s the only time you remember to thank her, then maybe your mom failed to raise you right after all, and she will know it. I’m not saying you should ignore Mother’s Day -- that’s probably not an option socially.

But if you really want to show your mom true, unadulterated appreciation, try picking up the phone on a random day in August, call her up, and say, “Hey, mom, thanks for all you did for me. I love you!”


This is not a medical advice column. We are PWDs freely and openly sharing the wisdom of our collected experiences — our been-there-done-that knowledge from the trenches. But we are not MDs, RNs, NPs, PAs, CDEs, or partridges in pear trees. Bottom line: we are only a small part of your total prescription. You still need the professional advice, treatment, and care of a licensed medical professional.