Published by NY Times

My children have a mother with a chronic illness. They live with my rheumatoid arthritis just as much as I do. I was given my diagnosis when all three of them were young, and since then I’ve spent a lot of time worrying about what the daily uncertainty of my condition would mean to them, and whether it would affect their development.

They are all teenagers now, one getting ready for college, and I can attest that my illness has indeed affected them. Here’s how.

1. They have acquired patience.

We have spent a lot of time in doctors’ offices and hospitals. They’ve used that time to read, draw, play games and get to know the front-office staff. Sometimes they just watch people or daydream. At home, I have not always been physically swift in meeting needs or ferrying them to their destinations. Instead of making futile attempts to rush me, they have learned to use the delays to their advantage. My son, for example, has taught himself to play piano during the time it takes me to get moving and ready in the morning. In an age when electronics can fool us into thinking we needn’t wait for anything, the patience they’ve developed is a virtue that would have been otherwise hard to teach.