Living With Me

Living with me means it’s impossible to know how a day will go. One day I may be active and happy, and the next I may not want to get out of bed because I’m in so much pain. One moment, I’ll seem like a good nominee for Mom of the Year, making sure the kids’ physical, mental, and emotional needs are all met, and then I can be struck with a flare that relegates me to the parenting sidelines.

Sometimes I’ll happily stay home with the kids while you work late or attend evening events, and other times I’ll ask you to come home early to cover for me while I retreat to the bedroom to lie down.

Challenges with household chores

Living with me means being in a comfortable and well-ordered house where everything has a place. However, thanks to rheumatoid arthritis/rheumatoid disease, it is hard to predict whether things will or will not be in their appointed places. You may come home to a lovely house.

You may also come home to damp laundry spoiling in the washer, dishes remaining stacked in the sink or on the kitchen table, and the trash can lid resting ajar atop a full bin.

RA impacts my ability to show affection

Living with me means being showed you are loved with affection and compliments. It means being told why you are important, special, and valued. You will be told frequently and genuinely that you are loved, and specifically why you matter.

And you will also wonder at times why I suddenly have a scowl on my face, why my patience has disappeared, and why I cringe away from your touch. I will tell you that I hurt and that I am cranky with pain, but there will still be times when you wonder if you did something wrong.

From laughter to wanting to be left alone

Living with me means that you will be given gifts that show close attention has been paid to what brings you joy, or to what annoys you and will now be dispensed of with this right tool. Living with me means that fun will be prioritized and that jokes and laughter will be interspersed into almost all conversations. You will hear interesting facts or perspectives I’ve just learned about, and you will stay curious about the world.

At least, these things will happen on good days, days when I’m not in so much pain that I want more than anything to be left alone because interacting with even those I love most scrapes the last bit of energy left from my reserves.

There are gifts and challenges

It’s easy for me to focus on the days that I am harder to live with, when I have slack that must be picked up. It’s treacherously tempting to marinate in the guilt of not being the partner I want to be every day.

However, while the burdens of living with me are true, so too are the gifts. I am more than my worst days, and the beautiful parts of being with me are every bit as important as the challenging ones. So I will keep working to let go of the guilt, just as I continue to do the best I can, and I’ll focus instead on feeling grateful to you for living with me.

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