Things I Want My Sons To Learn From Having a Mom With RA

Being a mom sure isn’t easy. Sleepless nights. Endless diapers. So very much crying (and sometimes the baby isn’t the only one crying!). Wearing yoga pants that are covered in spitup because I haven’t found time to do laundry in a week. And when was the last time I showered? Hmmm…

Then you’ve got toddlers. Feeding struggles. Seemingly infinite requests for my attention. How on earth did you get that permanent marker? I’m sorry but I cannot give you the cracker that I just ate – it doesn’t matter how hard you cry about it! (True story!)

Motherhood is seriously tough for everyone – there’s no doubt about that. But being a mom with a chronic illness presents some additional challenges. I had to go off the medications that were controlling my disease and suffer with untreated RA to even become a mom in the first place. I had to stop breastfeeding sooner than I wanted to so that I could start back on my meds. And, even though I am now taking medication to control my disease, unfortunately my RA does still limit me as a mother.

Sometimes it hurts too much to pick up my kids or get down on the floor and play. I have trouble opening bottles and buckling car seats. And the regular sleeplessness of parenthood combined with the fatigue of RA can sometimes leave me feeling completely unable to get out of bed – but I have to get out of bed and take care of the kids anyways. And that can make me a grumpy mama with less patience than I would like to have.

I’m not going to lie: on the days when I am really struggling to function – when I’m forced to let my kids watch way too much Daniel Tiger or play too long on the iPad just to survive the morning – I do feel a lot of guilt and frustration about the impact my RA has on my kids.

But you know what? There are also a lot of things that I hope my sons can learn from growing up with a mom who has a chronic illness. For example:

  • Kindness. Everybody needs a little help sometimes. A little bit of kindness can go a long way.
  • Gratitude. We need to be grateful for the things that we do have and the things that our bodies can do. We should count our blessings and appreciate all the fun things that we are able to do together.
  • Compassion. Just like you shouldn’t judge a book by its cover, you shouldn’t judge someone by how they look on the outside. Almost everybody is struggling with something, even though you may not be able to tell just by looking.
  • Strength. Strength isn’t about being the strongest. Sometimes strength is about getting back up when you fall down. Sometimes it’s nothing more than making the decision to try again tomorrow.
  • Love. RA may place some limitations on my body, but my love isn’t limited. Love is limitless. If we love each other enough we can always find a way to keep going. No matter what life throws at us.
This article represents the opinions, thoughts, and experiences of the author; none of this content has been paid for by any advertiser. The RheumatoidArthritis.net team does not recommend or endorse any products or treatments discussed herein. Learn more about how we maintain editorial integrity here.

Comments

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  • teva
    4 years ago

    Tears came to my eyes as I read this story. My boys are 18,6,4. I was diagnosed with RA 2 years ago and have not achieved a stable remission period yet. I am so thankful to have children, that I try not to complain. It was a struggle to even have the last two kids but they are here and healthy. Some days are definitely harder than others, but, my boys are different than other children in many ways. The compassion they show for their ages make me smile daily. They are so helpful. They are able to help with most chores. My 4 year old has learned how to help with laundry. For the first year I didn’t really want to talk to my kids about my RA. There are periods where I am in bed for most of the day. Those days are hard because, I am only 36 and used to live a very active life. RA has changed my life in some good ways.
    Time Management: On my good days I accomplish as much as I can because I never know what tomorrow is going to be like.
    Family Relationship: I am able to spend an amazing amount of time with my children. We hang out a lot especially during my flares. While it is difficult hugging and being touched. We color, and do all kinds of “Quiet Activities.” We read a lot and as a result my 4 year old has been reading for at least a year now and my 6year old has a 3rd grade reading level.
    Laugh more than ever: Not a day goes by that I don’t laugh with a friend or watch a funny movie. Laughing for me is therapeutic. Even though my body may feel like fire is running through my veins. I still take time to enjoy life and it’s happy moments. I encourage mothers with younger children especially to get help. I am not afraid or too prideful to ask friends and family for help. I was surprised when I started to tell family and friends about my RA how helpful they have been. whether it’s giving me a ride to my IV infusion. Making dinner for my family. Or picking my kids up for an overnight play date. Being home a lot I am able to babysit at the last minute during our many “midwest snow days,” in exchange for babysitting hours that I may need. I hire a cleaning service to do major cleaning that I am not able to do so that my house stays in order. I also have boxes and bags of activities, crafts and games that we can work on at any time. It makes me happy to know that my sons are going to grow up and become great husbands and not have gender roles because in our house everyone does dishes and laundry..lol

  • Mariah Z. Leach moderator author
    4 years ago

    Hi Teva ~ Thanks for taking the time to share your thoughts and story. I am only 32 so I certainly understand where you are coming from! I like to accomplish as much as I can on my good days too – and sometimes I overdo it! Reading is a great option for flare days – I am working on it with my two year old! And cleaning service is my favorite splurge! ~;o) Hang in there, mama, and remember that we are here to support you!!

  • Patricia Darstein
    4 years ago

    I almost thought I wrote this article. I am the mom of 2 boys (6 & 9). I was taking 80mgs of Prednisone (and that is NOT a misprint…80). I had a colic son (3 months old) who slept for the very first time (fell asleep) in the back seat of my van in his car seat. Total silence for the first time…the only sound I heard was the buzzing sound in my ears (one of the many side effects of such a huge dose of Prednisone). I went shopping and totally forget he was there. Locked him in the car for only a few minutes but during that few minutes I honestly forgot he was or didn’t realize he was with me.
    Still, even though my Prednisone dose is WAY lower, have bad days. Days when I feel like I have the flu, hurt just everywhere, so tired and the list goes on and on. I feel so bad for all the things my kids miss out on because of my “not feeling well”, or having to have my IV that day, or just feel too sore. I pray they understand and don’t think it’s just an excuse not to go or be with them.

  • Mariah Z. Leach moderator author
    4 years ago

    Hi Patricia ~
    I totally understand what it is like to have bad days – and they can be so much more challenging with kiddos to take care of. This morning lifting my mug of tea literally made me cry – so how am I supposed to lift my baby? So I can certainly understand the guilty feeling but I try to do my best to focus on the positive things my kids from learn from my struggles. I hope you can too!! Hang in there, mama!! And remember that we are here to support you!
    ~Mariah~

  • Patricia Darstein
    4 years ago

    I almost thought I wrote this article. I am the mom of 2 boys (6 & 9). I was taking 80mgs of Prednisone (and that is NOT a misprint…80). I had a colic son (3 months old) who slept for the very first time (fell asleep) in the back seat of my van in his car seat. Total silence for the first time…the only sound I heard was the buzzing sound in my ears (one of the many side effects of such a huge dose of Prednisone). I went shopping and totally forget he was there. Locked him in the car for only a few minutes but during that few minutes I honestly forgot he was or didn’t realize he was with me.

  • Helen Opczynski
    4 years ago

    I love and can relate to this article. I’m 45 and have had JRA since age 8. I also have 2 boys, 14 and 11. I had the same struggles as a mom when they were younger. You are right though. They will learn all the character traits you wrote about. My sons have never held my limitations against me. My 14 year old massages my ankles when needed. They are compassionate and kind. Excellent article!! Keep on getting up. God Bless!

  • Jane Burbach
    4 years ago

    I have two sons too. They are 18 and 20 now. My RA was undiagnosed for years and my first bad flare was when my youngest was one. I went to doctors but did not yet have the tell-tale signs. My issues were in my neck, shoulders, and hips, along with massive fatigue. I white-knuckled it and worked and raised my sons as a single parent. I was just diagnosed a year and a half ago at age 48.

    It has been difficult. I am remarried now and we just celebrated our third anniversary. It would have been much easier with a loving and supportive spouse! I am so thankful for my husband.

    We did all the kiddo stuff – sports, Scouts, marching band, vacations. I was there all the way but could not be as involved as some other moms. I did make all the major events.

    None of us understood what was wrong with me. The RA flares were more cyclical then and I could go a couple of years at a time with only minor issues. It has been pretty consistent since January 2012.

    We have had some issues in the teen years but now things are on a better track. I have a lot of regrets because I wish I could have done more – even though I did a lot.

    My sons see how much I love them, how I have pushed through many challenges, and how I always have faith that things can get better. They both say I am one of the most positive people they know. 🙂

    I agree with everything you said. Gratitude is the biggie for me.

    Thank you for this essay, Mariah. Enjoy your sons!

  • Mariah Z. Leach moderator author
    4 years ago

    Hi Helen ~ I’m so glad to hear that your kids are so understanding, compassionate, and kind! I hope my kids grow up the same way! Hang in there, mama! ~Mariah~

  • Nan Hart
    4 years ago

    I have three adult sons who grew up with me having RA as I in my 19th year with it. Many is the time that I say it helped shaped the wonderful young men that are today. They have all 5 of the qualities you mention and I am very proud of each one of them and paths they have chosen in life. RA takes a lot away but it gave me some gifts as well and how they turned out as men is one of them….Nan

  • Mariah Z. Leach moderator author
    4 years ago

    Hi Nan ~ It is nice to be able to recognize the positive things in our lives once and a while, isn’t it? So glad you have such wonderful and caring sons! ~Mariah~

  • Helen Opczynski
    4 years ago

    Awesome!!!! Sons are wonderful. 🙂

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