Finding the Silver Lining - Parenting with RA
Rheumatoid arthritis is a particularly nasty beast that takes so much away from us on a daily basis. However, as much as life with rheumatoid arthritis has taken pieces of my life, there is nothing that worries me more than thinking about what it takes from my children.
Being a parent with RA not only makes every day more difficult, but it also multiplies the effects of the disease infinitely. The disease itself is demanding, but what choice is there when our children, our most loved and cherished people in the world, are also in need of our attention and energy?
Parenting with RA is difficult
I’ll be honest, I really started to write this article with the difficulties of parenting in mind. And really, there are a million and one things that come to mind when I think about it. I’ve missed many soccer games, pushed myself to actually make it to activities, and landed myself in bed for a week. And like all parents with RA, I could go on and on about how difficult it is.
Having a parent with RA changes children
Sure, I’m not the person that I was before RA came into my life, nor am I the parent that I’ve always envisioned myself to be. But as challenging as parenting with RA is for me, I know that it has changed my children, but interestingly enough, I really believe that in many ways, it is actually for the better.
My kiddos are remarkably empathetic and I believe this is in no small part due to the fact that I have RA. They know when I’m not feeling well and for the most part, do their best to try and make me comfortable. They like to snuggle on the couch with me just as much as they love to run around the yard like crazy, wild animals. But more than anything else, they have learned to have empathy - for me, each other, and everyone else.
Independence and reliability
I’ll be the first to admit that most children, mine included, never actually listen nearly as much as we would want them to. But because of my RA, they have developed quite the ability to follow multi-step directions. If I’m having a rough flare and just can’t keep up with everything, they are able to step in, even at their young ages, and help out as best they can. This isn’t to say that they are my little “slaves” or anything of the sort. But they do understand that we are a family and we always work together to make sure everything works as smoothly as possible.
Better world perspective
Difficult to define, but a better world perspective means that they understand that everyone is made differently and just because someone may look “normal” on the outside doesn’t mean that they are perfectly healthy on the inside. They know that there is more to a person than what you see on the outside and you can never make judgement about a person because you never know the whole story.
Finding the silver lining
Would I go back and change my life so that I could be a better parent, one without RA? Of course, in a heartbeat! But I also think it is important to also find the silver lining in every rain cloud that comes our way. And I can say for sure, I love my little silver linings more than anything in the world!
Check-in: As we start a new year, how are you feeling?