Paula M. Fitzgibbons

Freelance Writer

I write to generate insight, compassion, and action — always through the lenses of chronic illness, social justice, parenthood, transracial adoption, liberation theology, and alternative education. An award-winning essayist, I am published at The New York Times, New York Magazine, and Scary Mommy. I blog at



The Cut

Watching My Daughter Develop the Same Anxiety I Struggle With

It is relatively early on a summer evening, just after sunset. From my bed, I notice a shadow of a spindly branch dancing across the corner of the bedroom wall. I get up and...


Opinion | 10 Things My Chronic Illness Taught My Children

Autoimmune diseases are unpredictable. There are days when I am unsteady on my feet. This means nobody can leave anything on the floor, lest I trip. There are days when opening...

Today's Parent

How to advocate for a child with an invisible illness

"I think our daughter might be a bit of a lemon," I joked to my husband one winter afternoon. After a six week stint with a nasty case of shingles and three more weeks...

The Establishment

How My Abusive Father Helped Me Understand Trump Supporters

I am struggling to even speak to Trump supporters right now. I am not, however, struggling to feel compassion for them. I was raised by a man like Trump, albeit without the...

Mommy Means It

Pushing Children: Lessons From Chronic Pain

"Mom," my youngest daughter, Isabel, whines, her copper hair sweeping across her freckled cheek. "My knee is killing me. It's seriously the worst pain I've ever felt in my life....

Scary Mommy

Medical Marijuana Manages My Chronic Illness (And Makes Me A Better Mom)

I started using weed to control the chronic pain from my rheumatoid arthritis (RA) after the night I scared the living hell out of my kids. "Sprinkle Butt!" I repeatedly called...

Mommy Means It

Parenting After Abuse

"My mother once told me that she had the urge to throw my brother, who had been crying for a long time, out the window," my new friend told me, as we sat on her fading yellow...

The Establishment

The Day My Father Shot My Mother - The Establishment

My mother was a hero, someone I admired. And I could never become her, this part of her at least. I had a quirky childhood habit of sitting sideways on the toilet. It began, I...

Mommy Means It

The Lesson I Learned That Time I Mooned the AME Church

We attended a local African Methodist Episcopal Church. I wore my new yoga pants. I mooned the congregation. Let me start from the beginning. Here's the longer version of the...

Scary Mommy

How A Stranger At Target Kept Me From Coming Undone

The day a stranger saved me at Target, I was wearing an oversized, peach tank top. It was one of the few shirts that fit over my already large, fully engorged breasts. I walked...