I see your eyes grow wide when your daddy carries me into the house from yet another medical procedure.

I hear the worry in your voice when you quietly ask, “What’s wrong with mommy?” as I am taken to another doctor’s appointment.

I feel your disappointment when I tell you I can’t play with you and must go to bed and rest.

I see your sadness and longing when we are separated by days or weeks in the hospital, and I feel your anxiety, knowing you can’t fully rest until mommy comes home.

I understand your frustration when your schedule gets shifted and people you don’t know well come to take care of you.

I see your struggle.

I feel it all.

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My heart aches with each wave of my illness that surrounds your childhood, claiming some of your innocence and normalcy. I worry about your future and how all this chaos will shape who you are. My mother’s instinct is to hide all these scary and troubling things away from your sweet faces, to put on a façade of the traditional family with superwoman as your mommy, but I can’t. This is our life.

Our family is different than your friends from church or playgroup. In our house, your daddy is the main housekeeper, cook, shopper, as well as our provider. We don’t go on many outings and play-dates because germs can’t be brought home. Plans get adjusted and rescheduled if I am having an especially bad day or a medical crisis.

Your childhood is not a typical one, but dear sons of mine, it is the one God has chosen, and therefore, I wouldn’t want it any other way.

There is no normal family. Everyone has their own unique story and upbringing, full of both good and bad experiences. God has taught me to embrace our own journey and to trust that He knows what is best.

My children, you are being raised by a mommy who has chronic illness.

There are days with painful procedures, treatments, and surgeries looming over us like a dark cloud. Some days are full of worries and burdens that feel too heavy to bear, surrounded by so many uncertainties. Every day we face diagnoses with grim outlooks and medications with serious side effects, sometimes doing all we can just to make it to the next day.

My sons, our life is complicated and challenging but in all the bad, God’s grace radiates through, creating incredible good.

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I see in you, two boys who show authentic compassion from ones so small, offering encouragement and reassurance. I see you learning true service as you watch your daddy humbly care for the whole family, and you are growing in diligence and perseverance as we walk through trials of pain and suffering. I know your hearts are being softened to the needs of others, and I see every act of kindness and generosity that overflows from a genuine love for others.

I thank God every day for the incredible blessings you are: my two miracles who God specifically made for our very special family.

Yes, there are consequences and challenges that come from being raised by a mommy who is ill, but I believe God is using those trials to shape you into the men you were truly born to be.

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To my precious children, as we carry these burdens together, I cannot promise a fairytale ending or an easy life, but I do promise that there is nothingno amount of pain, worry, or sicknessthat can separate you from God’s love or from mine. Our journey isn’t easy but I pray one day you will look back and see beyond the fear, uncertainty, and heartache and instead see a family loving each other and loving God, trusting in Him to know what is best.

Erin Burkhardt

I am a grateful follower of Jesus, blessed with an amazing husband and mom to two young boys. Together we are on a journey to glorify God as we navigate our seasons of life while battling my several chronic illnesses. I am also a loom knitting addict, avid reader and eager fisherwoman.