Sunday, May 9, 2010

Fairy Dust

We moved to Florida in 2005. I had just been diagnosed with RA, and my symptoms were not even remotely under control.

My daughter, Kate, was just six then, and painfully shy. She was invited to a birthday party at Libby Lu, a retail wonderland for all things girlie that hosted make-over parties for the three-to-nine-year-old set. Kate reveled in the delights of her sparkly up-do, makeup, and pinky-pink nail polish. But she otherwise clung to me as her resident BFF at this soiree.

When the party pixies were all made-over, the hostess brought out the Wishing Dust. The children received special wands with feathery marabou tips, and were instructed to dip the wands into the pot, filled with glitter and dreams. If they sprinkled themselves while making a wish, it was sure to come true. Kate gave both of us a generous dusting as she earnestly made her wish.

The next morning, she asked me how I was feeling. When I told her, “Not too bad today honey. I think it’s going to be a good day,” her eyes grew wide. “It works!” she exclaimed.

In that very moment, my heart broke. Given a single wish, my baby would, without hesitation, give it to me. She longed to have her mother back – the one who put her in the Baby Bjorn and hiked mountains; the one who took her to tennis and dance lessons; the one who spent hours at the lake; the one who got down on the floor to play board games and solve jigsaw puzzles.

No matter how hard we try to keep the pain of arthritis to ourselves, our children are affected by it. They recognize that we are changed. Some, like Kate, would do anything to help us. Others may resent it. Still others may experience fear – is mommy sick? Is she going to die? Am I going to be like she is? Being a parent with a chronic illness comes with a unique set of challenges.

For me, talking to my children has been the best medicine. Reassure them that they are safe, and they are loved. Maybe mommy can’t play ball today – but we can read together, or watch a movie. I don’t hide my RA from them; we share the trials and the victories. Through my RA, my children have developed compassion for others with compromised health. Most importantly, my children still love me, despite the fact that I’m not perfect. Happy Mother’s Day!

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