One of the hardest things about living with Rheumatoid Arthritis, or any chronic pain condition, is being a parent. And feeling that your kids are suffering and missing out, because of your disease.
I am a single parent (which still sounds odd to me). But I do have a good friendship with my ex-husband. The kids live with me and spend every second weekend with their Dad.
So the bulk of the time they are with me. And every now and again one of them will say wistfully “I wish you never got sick…”
Or “Do you remember how we used to play soccer at the oval? I wish we could do that again.”
And while they don’t mean for that to hurt, it does. It hurts me, for them. For all they are missing out on. And for me, in that I don’t get to be the fun Mum anymore.
A few days before Christmas I finally woke up to myself.
I need to find other things to do with my kids. I can ‘want’ all I like, I just can’t do those things anymore…or very rarely, anyway. It’s time to find new things to do, create new family traditions, and make new memories that the kids will look back on as part of their growing up.
How did I finally reach this epiphany?
My daughter showed me a special piece of artwork she is working on. Lately she has gotten right into drawing manga style people. They are amazing. She is eleven, and many people have commented on her talent. So it’s probably not just my maternal pride. Probably…
But just before Christmas she decided to draw our dog – Elke – our gorgeous German Shepherd Dog. And she asked me a question:
“Mum, did you draw when you were a kid?”
And I thought about it. At her age, I was drawing horses constantly…horses running, horses rearing, horse faces, black horses, white horses, three bags full horses…you get the idea.
When did I stop sketching? I don’t know. Many, many years ago.
I loved it then. Why not try again now?
And so we did. We took a photo of Elke, and both worked from it. Together, we sat at my huge, messy dining room table, and created our own versions of our overgrown puppy.
I hadn’t drawn anything in years. So I asked my daughter for help. She must have grown three inches while she explained to me line drawing techniques, and demonstrated how to shade, and gave me tips on adding depth to a picture.