Lake Norman Publications

Health, not perfection, among goals shared by ‘Diabetes Mom’

Stacey Simms during her Diabetes Connection podcast, available at
/Courtesy Stacey Simms

DAVIDSON – These days parenting can often feel like a competitive sport. With internet access at their fingertips, mothers and fathers can compare parenting skills 24/7 to peers on social media. Add in a child’s chronic health condition, and the pressure can make  the most even-tempered parent feel like a failure.

Stacey Simms, a Davidson mother of two, has flipped the script on mom guilt and is sharing how mistakes actually made her family better. Timed to coincide with National Diabetes Month in November, Simms is launching her second book, “Still The World’s Worst Diabetes Mom,” just months before she launches her second child into adulthood.

Simms’ son, Benny, was just shy of two when diagnosed with type 1 diabetes (T1D) in 2006. Simms, a former broadcast journalist, started chronicling her family’s journey in a blog soon after.

“We left the medical decisions up to our health care team, and we got community support from local people before Facebook and social media really got bananas,” she said.

As her circle of T1D families grew, she started a Facebook group, Charlotte T1D Parents, to help connect parents facing the same questions and challenges in raising a child with T1D. It wasn’t long before she saw a dark side emerge, where parents felt emboldened to criticize and compare others’ decisions and outcomes.

“With the rise of social media, I felt there was also a pivot to a quest for perfect parenting with diabetes. People wanted to compare numbers, they wanted to do things ‘right’, and there seemed to be a goal that was unattainable,” she said.

Simms family at their first JDRF walk after son Benny was diagnosed.

Simms felt parlaying her blog into a book and sharing what she had learned through research and experience could help other parents.

“Being perfect with diabetes is not only unattainable, but it’s possibly detrimental to your kid because if you are always trying to keep your child in a perfect range of blood sugars, you may limit them from doing things,” she said. “It’s not about being reckless, it’s about acknowledging you’re raising a whole human being and not a number.”

Simms wanted her son to play sports, go on trips and eventually leave home without having his parents micromanage every aspect of his life in pursuit of perfect blood sugar levels.

Simms’ philosophy on parenting became “not perfect, but safe and happy.” Her first book, “The World’s Worst Diabetes Mom,” shared the trial-and-error process of raising a toddler and young child with T1D. Her second book addresses the changes that happen in adolescence, as parents begin to foster independence and healthcare control shifts to the child. Benny, now 17, driving and applying to colleges, has taken the reins of his T1D management.

“He doesn’t do it my way, the ‘right way,’ but he is safe and he’s very happy and healthy,” Simms said. “It’s our job as parents to give them all the tools they need, and then to be brave enough to let them use those tools, and I am struggling with that, but that’s what we’ve been working toward all this time.”

Simms said technology has greatly improved the management of T1D, but even insulin pumps and continuous glucose monitoring devices are more like bowling lane bumpers than a perfect science. They will help Benny stay on track, but it’s still up to him to aim for the center of the lane.

Like any parent facing an impending empty nest, Simms says sometimes she wishes she could start all over and try again, but realizes there is no world where she would do it all perfectly and never worry.

“My mother likes to say, ‘Don’t look back, you’ll hurt your neck,’” she said.

Simms will be holding a book launch that coincides with a JDRF benefit at Birkdale Village retailer Kendra Scott on Tuesday, Nov. 15, 5-7 p.m. Kendra Scott will donate 20 percent of proceeds back to the North Carolina branch of JDRF, which funds T1D research.

Still The World’s Worst Diabetes Mom” is available at all major book retailers.

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