Although I am the one with rheumatoid arthritis (RA), it has affected my children also. It affects them because of the things I can no longer do or don’t want to do anymore. Things have had to change but we’ve actually become better for it and this can happen for you too!
When my symptoms were at their worst, my kids would have to physically help me get out of bed and dress me. That was really hard. I felt like a burden and hated having to ask them to get me a chair so I can sit because I can’t bend down, sit on the floor or kneel.
There are also many tasks that I now how to delegate to my children. Walking the dog, cleaning, food preparation and putting away the groceries are all things I palm off. But this is not a bad thing! If your children are at the age where they can do more, it will only be a benefit to them later on in life. Think of it as you teaching them rather than you burdening them or you having to do less.
Meeting the Demands
One of the things mothers with chronic illness struggle with is meeting the demands. When your child or spouse is sick, you are there to nurse them back to health and are there at their beck and call. But what happens when you are the one who is sick? Well, you do what most mothers do, you suck it up right?
You fight through the fatigue and pain and keep soldiering on and you keep marching until you can’t march anymore. Unfortunately, the world or at least, your world — your family life — doesn’t stop just because you are sick. Why do we do this to ourselves you wonder? I suppose it’s just in our nature and above all, we do what we can to avoid THE GUILT. Keep reading for my tip on dealing with guilt!
What Can We Learn?
You know what the most annoying thing is? I am one of those mothers that has always insisted on their kids eating healthy. My kids’ lunch boxes were made up of nature’s rainbow, all organic, natural wholefoods. My mama mantra was “I am trying to keep you healthy. You want to be strong and not get sick don’t you?” Well, this has come around and bit me in the butt hasn’t it? Now that they are pre-teens and teenagers, they don’t hesitate to tell me that my mama mantra is absolute rubbish because it didn’t work for me. Having rheumatoid arthritis and being a mother can be really frustrating like that!
When you are a mother, you are just busy. Your mind is busy, your body is busy, your schedule is busy. You rely on everything to go as smoothly as possible. You have a million tasks, schedules and routines to juggle. So when you are slowed down by limitations, it just makes life that little bit harder. When you’re a mum and your life is made a little harder, it just downright sucks!
To Do List
Housework — I pride myself in having a clean and orderly home but I have learnt to prioritise my health over the appearance of my house. It’s important to prioritise and do a little at a time so I’ve had to change the way I do things but I’m OK with that now. I’ve also decided that either the housework can wait until I’m good and ready or I get my kids to step up and do it. Back in the war era, kids were made to work so it won’t kill my kids to pick up a vacuum cleaner!
Be kind to yourself. We are so hard on ourselves as mothers. We want to be able to do it all and give our family everything that they need. When you have RA, you just can’t do it all anymore and you feel like a failure but you are NOT! I want to tell you that it is temporary! Give yourself the time to heal both mentally and physically. Once your head is in a good space, you’ll be able to think of new ways to do things and create new routines. Just remember that things will be different but they will be OK.
A Lesson in All Things
Despite the changes that rheumatoid arthritis has made to my family relationships, there are positives that come out of it. Firstly, my kids are more appreciative and certainly don’t take me for granted as much as they used to. It’s a good learning curve and especially now that they’re a little bit older, it’s made them more accountable.
Secondly, my children have developed a bit more empathy and compassion. When a child sees a parent wince in pain, it’s a bit of a wake up call to be kinder and more helpful.
The most important thing that my children will get out of my rheumatoid arthritis is how to deal with adversity. Our children will not know how to deal with hard times unless we show them because we are their role models. They are not going to see me wallow in self-pity, they are not going to see me give up and they are not going to see me just sit back and take it. NO! They are going to see me try, they are going to see me positive and hopeful and they are going to see me continue to LIVE despite what I live with. I am not my condition!
What You Need to Do!
The biggest hurdle you will probably have to face with rheumatoid arthritis and being a mother is how to put yourself first. This is so important. The effects of chronic illness on mental health are huge so it is absolutely vital that you make self-care a priority! It’s not easy but it is doable. You simply cannot care for your family if you are not taking care of yourself. There is nothing wrong with taking time out to take care of YOU.
This post was originally shared on The Rheuma Mill website in August 2020 and has been re-shared here with the author’s permission.
Maly is the creator and owner of The Rheuma Mill. She is a single mother of three and happily living life despite rheumatoid arthritis. Read more about Maly on her website. You can also find The Rheuma Mill on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and Pinterest.