Madame Ms. Meniscus,
I am married with a three-year-old boy. I have RA but take him to the park when I can. There's a group of mothers that meet once a week in each other's houses and they asked me to join. I said no because it's too much work for me to host a group of mothers and their kids. I didn't tell them why I said no (that it was because of my RA) and now I hear some are talking about me that I'm weird and don't want my son to have friends. Someone even told his teacher at nursery school.
What can I do?
Madame Meniscus understands how upsetting it is to discover that some members of a group are talking about you especially when they are in ignorance of your circumstances. At the very least, it is oddly notable that your lack of mother’s group attendance was reported to your son’s nursery school teacher; which in Madame’s opinion is taking things too far.
Madame is wondering whether this information was passed on to you through a friend or the teacher herself? This is because Madame is often wary of informer-types. Of course, there is the very good possibility that a friend is trying to keep you apprised of the situation.
What can you do? Well, as you have seen, maintaining silence about your condition is problematic because without information, people feel free to speculate. There are those who are so self-involved that they believe anything except a “yes” to an invitation is a personal affront, and especially when an invitation is met with a “no” and nothing more is provided.
Madame understands the need for privacy and the last thing she will suggest is that you silence your critics by explaining personal details to them. Chances are it won’t silence a snip anyway. What you can do is talk to your son’s teacher. You don’t have to reveal your RA explicitly, but you could explain that you suffer from a chronic condition that interferes with normal day-to-day activities and as a result, you must conserve your energy for your child. If she is not someone with whom you feel comfortable, then Madame recommends you talk with a friend or other parent in your child’s class.
Take a little time to prepare yourself and practice before hand if you are anxious about maintaining your privacy. Make a mental list of what you would like to say and say it clearly and matter-of-factly. You may have to remind the person more than once that you “don’t need to go on about yourself” only that you wish it to be understood that you have a condition that limits your activities. Reassure this person that you would have loved to be part of the group but circumstances prevent it. Take the time to thank her/or him for their understanding.
Madame sends you off with a “Tisket and a Tasket” of luck!