A man sitting on the hour hand of a clock.

Time Passing Me By - Kids and RA?

"Passing Me By". It’s a song by The Pharcyde from back in the day, but it’s also something that’s been on my mind lately. Just like the sample from that song that plays in the background and worms its way into your brain, the world passing me by has constantly been on my mind lately.

More than ever before, I can smell the tuna-fish-tinged breath of Father Time blowing disgustingly past my ear as he whispers in his gruff voice, “You’re running out of time,” and wheezes like an old miner who’s smoked one too many Lucky Strikes. How’s that for painting a picture?

Starting a family?

The last year has been bananas and not the good kind where someone slips on a peel in a Bugs Bunny cartoon. We’ve all been cooped up like too many chickens and have just about run out of recipes to cook, hats to knit, and Netflix shows to watch. On social media, more and more of my friends post pictures and share takes on how their family is surviving in quarantine, warts and all. So, maybe that’s why I’m starting to hear that clock ticks louder and louder with every passing day.

Living with rheumatoid arthritis for decades now, I have realized there are certain things I’ll never get to do. Play for the NBA? Nah, I’m gonna have to put my hoop dreams on hold indefinitely. Sorry, LeBron. Climb Mt. Everest? Nuh-uh. Seems like the only peak I’ll be seeing any time soon is the one printed on my train ticket where it says, “time of day.” Have a family? Unfortunately, it looks like...well, you know what, I’m not ready to give that one up just yet.

And there’s the rub – even if I find someone who still has the desire and capability to have children will I have the resources needed?

Energy and focus are needed

Let’s face it, I am not a morning person. Or a late-night person. Or a mid-to-late-afternoon person – whatever, you get the idea. It already takes all of my energy and focus to complete the tasks I have set before me, and I mostly fill my day with reruns of old sitcoms, video games, and heated social media arguments about obscure Japanese animation characters. Keep in mind: that’s without a significant other which, if I was lucky enough to find, would add things to my schedule like going out to dinner, talking about dinner, and then taking time to examine our feelings about dinner and how we can build on those feelings to make a stronger, closer, dinner next time. (I take my dates to really smart restaurants.)

With RA, you have to be ready for anything

Now, if I ask anyone around here about kids, they all say the same thing – “You’ll figure it out.” But...but... no sleep? Chasing after kids? POOP?  “You’ll figure it out. We all do.” I am certainly not a stranger to “figuring it out” as anyone with chronic illness can attest to. We are some of the most ingenious people out there – we have to be. The kinds of curveballs that rheumatoid arthritis and chronic illness throws don’t get hit by accident; you have to be ready for anything.

So this does give me hope that - should the opportunity arise to continue my line - I would be up to the challenge. Of course, then I look at some of the videos floating around the Internet of the messes that kids get into and it’s all the way back to square one, do not pass “GO,” do not collect $200 – which brings up another concern – money.

Raising a child is expensive

As someone who lives on disability and requires the insurance Medicare provides, I am bound by regulation to only a certain amount of income. Now, I don’t know if you readers know this, but I’ve been told kids are expensive!

Yes, it seems that not only do you have to change them, raise them, and teach them, but you also have to pay for their care! Imagine that! I mean, how greedy can you be? Not only do I invent you, nurture you, give you the tools to navigate the world, and instill in you a sense of kindness and responsibility, but you expect me to pay for your clothes, food, and recreation for at least 18 years? Boy, you’d think a commitment like that would come with some sort of money-back guarantee.

Financial stress

In all seriousness though, sometimes I consider if it’s right for me to even consider bringing someone into this world if I can’t give them everything they deserve? Not to mention the stress that finances would definitely cause with my partner, whoever they may be. It may be years yet before my career is in any shape to even think about leaving disability.

Maybe there is still time

As you can see, I really have been thinking about this a lot lately. I’ve always been someone who believes that pretty much anything is possible if you work hard enough and, with a little luck, if the stars align just right.

Now, though, I’m having to face the fact that the “anything” in “anything is possible” may come with a few caveats. Yeah, believe it or not, even after living with thirty years of rheumatoid arthritis and the myriad of things that my illness has taken from me, the fact that something may not be possible anymore because of my age is difficult to swallow.

Who knows. Maybe I’m just overthinking it and it’s not really Father Time blowing his awful fish breath into my ear but the Tooth Fairy who has finally come for my last few teeth after a meal of microwaved fish sticks and tartar sauce. Maybe, there’s still time and energy to do the things I want to if I dig deep enough. Maybe, though, just maybe, Father Time is finally pulling on a few strings that I can’t replace. Talk soon.

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