Rheumatoid Arthritis and being a mother

By Rheumamill

The Mother of all Rheumas

I thought I’d spend this post discussing rheumatoid arthritis and being a mother. I am a single mother and have 3 children who are 11, 12 and 14 years old. It’s a handful but I have been able to successfully manage my household even with rheumatoid arthritis.

Although I am the one with R.A., it has affected my children also. It affects them because of the things I can no longer do or don’t want to do anymore. Things have had to change but we’ve actually become better for it and this can happen for you too!

Our last family holiday to Disney Japan pre-Rheumatoid Arthritis

Role reversal

When my symptoms were at it’s worse, my kids would have to physically help me get out of bed and dress me. That was really hard. I felt like a burden and hated having to ask them to get me a chair so I can sit because I can’t bend down, sit on the floor or kneel.

For example, joining in at the trampoline park is something I can’t do anymore. Well, I can but I don’t want to. If I land wrong, it hurts my hips. Gosh, that makes me sound SO FRIGGIN’ OLD!!! I reluctantly went roller-skating with them not long ago. The entire time I was riddled with anxiety the whole time. I went 1 lap of the rink and then hopped out. I just knew that if I fell, I’d be in a world of hurt. So having rheumatoid arthritis and being a mother is limiting but it doesn’t have to stop you completely.

Meeting the demands

One of the things mothers with chronic illness struggle with is meeting the demands. When your child or spouse is sick, you are there to nurse them back to health and are there at their beckoned call. But what happens when you are the one who is sick? Well, you do what most mothers do, you suck it up right? You fight through the fatigue and pain and keep soldiering on and you keep marching until you can’t march anymore. Unfortunately, the world or at least, your world – your family life- doesn’t stop just because you are sick. Why do we do this to ourselves you wonder? I suppose it’s just in our nature and above all, we do what we can to avoid THE GUILT. Keep reading for my tip on dealing with guilt!

What can we learn?

You know what the most annoying thing is? I am one of those mothers that insist on their kids eating healthy. My kids’ lunchboxes was something Pete Evans would be proud of. My mama mantra was ‘I am trying to keep you healthy. You want to be strong and not get sick don’t you?’ Well, this has come around and bit me in the ass hasn’t it. Now that they are pre-teens and teenagers, they don’t hesitate to tell me that my mama mantra is bullshit because it didn’t work for me. Having rheumatoid arthritis and being a mother is annoying!

When you are a mother, you are just busy. Your mind is busy, your body is busy, your schedule is busy. You rely on everything to go as smoothly as possible. You have a million tasks, schedules and routines to juggle. So when you are slowed down by limitations, it just makes life that little bit harder. When you’re a mum and your life is made a little harder, it just downright sucks balls.

So here’s what I have learnt:

  • Put yourself first – There is nothing wrong with taking time out to take care of YOU. You simply cannot care for your family if you are not taking care of yourself.
  • Housework – I pride myself in having a clean and orderly home but I have learnt to priorities my health over the appearance of my house. It’s important to priorities and do a little at a time so I’ve had to change the way I do things but I’m OK with that now. I’ve also decided that either the housework can wait until I’m good and ready or I get my kids to step up and do it. Back in the war era, kids were made to work so it won’t kill my kids can pick up a vacuum cleaner!
  • Be kind to yourself – We are so hard on ourselves as mothers. We want to be able to do it all and give our family everything that they need. When you have RA, you just can’t do it all anymore and you feel like a failure but you are NOT! I want to tell you that it is temporary! Give yourself the time to heal both mentally and physically. Once your head is in a good space, you’ll be able to think of new ways to do things and create new routines. Just remember that things will be different but they will be OK.

A lesson in all things

Despite the changes that rheumatoid arthritis has made to my family relationships, there is a positive that comes out of it. Firstly, my kids are more appreciative and certainly don’t take me for granted as much as they used to. It’s a good learning curve and especially now that they’re a little bit older, it’s made them more accountable. Secondly, my children have developed a bit more empathy and compassion. When a child sees a parent wince it pain, it’s a bit of a wake up call to be kinder and more helpful.

The most important thing that my children will get out of my rheumatoid arthritis is how to deal with adversity. Our children will not know how to deal with hard times unless we show them because we are their role models. They are not going to see me wallow in self-pity, they are not going to see me give up and they are not going to see me just sit back and take it. NO! They are going to see me try, they are going to see me positive and hopeful and they are going to see me continue to LIVE despite what I live with. I am not my condition!

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Rheumatoid Arthritis and being a mother