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Being a migraineur’s mom

In addition to being a migraineur, I am also mom to two migraineurs. Mothers learn to accept a certain level of uncertainty. We question every action or failure to act and then feel guilty no matter what the outcome. I suppose we shouldn’t expect that the issue of migraine would be any different.

When their symptoms first appeared, I felt a mixed sense of relief and dread. I was relieved that they would have a mother who could understand and advocate for them.  I was also filled with dread because I knew exactly what they would be facing. I prayed that I could protect them from a harsh world that could not understand. That was about as unrealistic as trying to protect them from any other potential danger.

As they entered their teens, the issues became more complicated. I could no longer hold on to the illusion that I could control their trigger exposures, treatment compliance, or lifestyle choices. Migraine had become just one more opportunity to engage in the eternal power struggle between adolescent needs for independence and parental needs to hold them close a little longer.

Treatment choices became another point of negotiation and compromise. Medication compliance became a teachable moment for personal responsibility mixed with the abject terror that my Man-Child or Mini-Me might miss doses of preventives or overuse abortives.

Things got really interesting when each one in turn became old enough to control their own relationship with our family doctors. Their doctors were my doctors. We’d been making health care decisions for them for years. Now all of a sudden, I was on the outside of that door. Being a health care professional, I understood the legal and ethical issues of protecting patient privacy and advocated for it. That didn’t keep me from secretly fantasizing about trying to find creative ways to circumvent HIPAA laws. My self-control was seriously tested when Man-Child and “my” Dr. Z chose to stick with a preventive I believed to be ineffective.

Man-Child knows that lack of sleep is his biggest trigger. When he repeatedly made calculated choices to stay out late on school nights, I had a difficult choice to make.  It was agonizing, but after a clear warning on the fourth late night, I refused to excuse the absence when he woke up with a Migraine attack. Was I giving in to stigma by “blaming the patient” or teaching him personal responsibility for his choices? How could I separate my parenting job from the anger I felt? It hurt that he was choosing risky migraine behaviors. A part of me couldn’t help but feel betrayed, as if all my hard work had been for nothing. I don’t think I will ever have peace about that one.

We faced yet another trial when adult Mini-Me disclosed she had discovered a certain “natural” substance was more helpful than conventional treatment. Should I respond as if she were one of you or as a parent trying to protect her child? Is it even possible to separate the two?

Then came the scare that Man-Child chose to drive while migraining… and yet another when Mini-Me’s Baby Girl had colic. Not knowing if migraine is in the future for yet another generation is an unwelcome uncertainty.

My job has been to make sure they have what they need to succeed in life and with Migraine. That job is nearing an end. The process of pushing limits, testing independence, and finding one’s own way is universal, migraine or not.

This article represents the opinions, thoughts, and experiences of the author; none of this content has been paid for by any advertiser. The team does not recommend or endorse any products or treatments discussed herein. Learn more about how we maintain editorial integrity here.


  • Candi
    4 years ago

    I, too, suffer from migraine and all 3 of my kids do too. My son only has the occasional migraine but both my daughters suffer on a regular basis with one have chronic daily migraine. Mine are managed, thankfully, with imitrex. I feel terrible guilt for passing this on to them, especially for my youngest who has not yet found effective treatment and suffers every single day. Even though she is almost 30, I still feel like it’s my job to fix her hurts and, of course, there’s very little I can do.

  • Nola
    4 years ago

    Both of my daughters experience migraine. One, fortunately, has only a few a year. The other, like me, is a chronic migraineur. There is a sense of guilt associated with this. Although, rationally, I know that there is nothing I could have done which would have changed anything, but in my heart it saddens me that these wonderful women have to endure what I have had for so many years. Now I wonder if my 10-year-old granddaughter will experience this horrible, debilitating condition.

  • Tammy Rome author
    4 years ago

    UPDATE: Since the first writing of this article, Baby Girl has begun to show symptoms of migraine. We’re all watchful and praying this isn’t true. She’s only one year old. On the bright side of things, Man-Child has learned to manage triggers much better now that he is living on his own. He even refuses to drive during a migraine attack and won’t hesitate to call for a ride. Migraine parenting success!

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