Thursday, October 13, 2005


I have officially become a “tween”. Not the "kid" version.  No, I am a caregiver on two ends and I’m feeling squished!

As anyone with kids knows, preschool aged kids are demanding. Not more so than any other age, but still demanding. They can’t reach things or tie their shoes. They can’t express themselves very well and are easily frustrated getting out their complex thoughts. The whining and tantrums associated with this developmental stage will probably cause me to run in front of a bus one of these days! Their constant needs are tiring because they are CONSTANT.

H or E: “Mom, I need a rag.”
Me: “Why?”
H or E: “Because my yogurt spilled….Mom, I need a rag!!!!”
Me: “I’m working on it. Please don’t talk to me in that tone.”
H or E: “I need it!!!! I spilled my milk.” (whining and crying start to accompany this request)
Me: “Oh…that’s ok. Calm down.”
H or E: “Mom, don’t do it for me! I want to clean it up.”
Me: “Oh…ok. Please don’t yell at me, though. I was trying to help.”
H or E: “Mom!!!! I can’t do it right – I don’t want this silly rag! I hate yogurt!”

Many times a day I will have similar interactions with either of my kids. They are trying to be independent, but have a never ending desire to be dependent at the same time. The patience required and the physical demands are high. Parenting is a lot of work. (You can quote me on that, by the way.)

Parenting is a caregiving task that most people comprehend even if they don’t have kids. Taking care of elderly parents is something foreign to most people I know. I was born relatively late in my parents’ lives. My mom was 37 when she had me – my dad was 35. Now they are older than most of my friends' parents. I can look to my mom for advice, but probably won't so I don't appear to be complaining. My dad’s mom developed breast cancer, and let it go untreated for a long time, before I was born. By the time I was born, she needed constant care and had lost both of her breasts and an arm to the disease. She moved in with my parent’s when I was an infant. My mom didn’t work and did the bulk of her care. She died when I was about 18 months old. I remember my mother describing it as a very tough period in her life. Newly married, new to New York state, new mom and caregiver to her mother in law – I can’t even imagine.

I find myself, though, in a somewhat similar situation. I have two beautiful children to care for, but I also have two parents that need care. My father informed me last Friday that he needs heart valve replacement surgery as soon as possible. They have scheduled it for October 28th. (The same day that our house closes!) He will be in the hospital for four days and then a nursing home for about 7-10 days. He won’t be able to drive for two months after that.

I need to go help. I want to go help. My mom can’t stay alone – she’s still bed ridden from her cancer. My dad needs someone to visit and stay with him in the hospital and then the care facility. My brother lives right there in Minneapolis, but has two jobs and is a single parent to three kids. He will do what he can, but I’m the willing and logical choice to take care of my mom while he’s gone. In-home health care is cost prohibitive and ewwwwww! I don’t want a stranger sleeping in our house. I’m taking the second shift. My brother will take my dad to the hospital and stay through his surgery. He’ll stay with my mom that first weekend and then they’d like me to come that Monday. Halloween.

I love my parents to death. I want to be there for my dad. I want to help my mom. I’m so sad, though, that I won’t be able to go trick-or-treating with my kids or go watch Harrison in the Kindergarten costume parade. This “tween” stuff is for the birds.

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