My Kid Had to Cut Up MY Dinner Tonight

It’s not the first time it’s happened, but the second night in a row, and it’s really wearing me down emotionally as much as physically: I’m not an elderly person, but this young man, still a teenager and not even able to drive yet, had to help his mother cut up her food before she could eat it. I’m the one who did this for him not so very long ago, didn’t I? And didn’t I just cook that very dinner we’re all sitting down to eat together?

Yes, and yes.

That drives me nuts.

I could almost get through the two hours of cooking — food prep, actual time in front of the stove, finishing up and serving. Most days, I need help there at the end with tongs, and certainly with heavy pots, and even plating food. The kids help with all of that.

But when I sat down to eat and dropped the fork because my left hand is doing an increasingly lousy job of, well, everything during this most recent flare, my sixteen-year-old son had to help me cut up my own chicken.

And just realizing it made me almost break down in tears at the table.

I know it’s a sign I’ve raised him right. He did not hesitate to help. And he did it again tonight, again without complaint, while his own food cooled. I did it for him and his siblings for years… but this is different. This is me needing the help and feeling horrible about it.

I don’t think someone without a progressive and unpredictable condition like RA really understands the emotional toll that can take on a person. It was pretty much all I could do to get through dinner by making ridiculously obvious attempts to lighten the mood by talking about what I planned on adding to the Christmas Eve buffet this year. And it was horrible.

I don’t know how it made the kids feel, and that almost makes it even worse. How do they see me? How do they see their own roles in my life, and my role in theirs?

Compassion is one of those things I hope comes from this, from growing up with a mom who has lots of chronic conditions — epilepsy, asthma, chronic bronchitis, and RA. It defines much of the shape of their own lives. And I resent it bitterly, even though I see that it also provides opportunities for them to learn patience and understanding, along with the selflessness that comes from cutting up your mom’s dinner before your own.

It’s been a hard couple of weeks, but it’s also been wonderful in a lot of ways. The kids rise to the occasion.

I only wish they didn’t have to do it quite so often.

 

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Comments

View Comments (3)
  • CF2017RA
    8 months ago

    Recently I was craving a beautiful, rare, juicy steak but I no longer cook, so going to a restaurant would mean ordering and then stressing over how in the world I would eat that beautiful steak. Should I ask the waitress to cut up my meat, should I just pick it up and eat it as though it was a sandwich, should I order it to go and nosh on it in the privacy of my own home. RA/RD certainly controls so many areas of our lives. Oh, btw, my dear friend bought a steak, cooked it, cut it up and delivered it to me along with a fresh salad. RD sucks, but friends are our salvation.

  • Merry
    12 months ago

    What a wonderful, thoughtful, caring son you have! This shows you how you are doing as a parent. Basking in that might take some of the sting out of the situation.

    It would seem humility is on of the many “gifts” this disease gives us. I’m new here and just stumbled on your story, and I have one to share; it makes me cringe but also makes people laugh and nod in agreement. Before my diagnosis, during my first big flare, my 75 year old mother-in-law was driving me to my appointments. Then we would grab lunch. She would walk upright and sprightly and I was hobbling behind….I made a mess trying to eat past with hands that wouldn’t work…then just when we were leaving, me moving oh-so-slowly, my shoe was untied…So there I stood in the middle of the crowded restaurant and the 75 year old woman kneels down and ties it…..humility.

    Thank you RA.

  • Richard Faust moderator
    1 year ago

    Thank you for writing KimM. Sorry you are struggling right now, but glad you have reached out with your story to a place people understand and where you can get some support. The emotional toll of a chronic condition like RA often takes a backseat to the physical, but it is all intertwined. Never hesitate to to seek out some additional support when necessary. One of our contributors who has had RA for most of her life writes about the need to not neglect mental health in this article (full disclosure – I’m the author’s husband): https://rheumatoidarthritis.net/living/dont-neglect-mental-health/.

    You write about how your children have risen to the occasion and you are absolutely correct that it is a sign that you have raised them right. Your concern about their situation being different having a mother with RA is understandable, but never underestimate the value of the lessons learned in helping someone and in seeing someone who perseveres, continues to plan (that Christmas buffet), and cares for others. In this article one of our other contributors writes about the lessons she hopes to teach her children – things like compassion and kindness: https://rheumatoidarthritis.net/living/lessons-hope-to-teach-children/. Sounds like you are well on the way.

    Know that you are always welcome here anytime you need a little extra support, some information, or just to vent a little. Wishing you the best. Richard (RheumatoidArthritis.net Team)

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