Monday, November 07, 2011

It's Not Easy Being Me—by Jamie Levine

I’ve been blessed with an amazing daughter, terrific parents, and an abundance of supportive friends. I’m grateful, and try to emanate as much positivity as I can. But my life isn’t always easy: I’m a single mother preoccupied with freelance work and a challenging grad school program, always wrapped up in a flurry of activities to keep my incredibly social daughter happy, while trying to maintain some semblance of a social life, myself. Up until now, I’ve been handling everything pretty well. Sure, I get stressed and short-tempered now and then, but for the most part, I’ve become pretty good at mastering the juggling act.

Last Wednesday, my mother went into the hospital for major back surgery. According to the surgeon, the procedure went well, but my mom’s recovery has been much more challenging than anyone expected. She’s in excruciating pain, and thus she’s not pushing herself to get up and walk so she can get better and come home. She’s highly-medicated, and lies in bed all day, fading in and out of reality. She’s also incredibly nasty—to the physical therapists who are trying to coax her into walking; to my father, who won’t leave her bedside; and to just about anyone who rubs her the wrong way. It’s tough to see my normally strong and loving mother that way. And it’s even tougher to watch my dad spend every moment he can at the hospital, only eating when someone else is there to remind him to, and driving home after 10:00 every night, only after the security guards kick him out. He’s exhausted.

I’ve been making sure I’m at the hospital every day to help shoulder my father’s burden (and force him to eat lunch), except over the weekend, when Jayda's my responsibility 24/7. And since I can’t force my father to spend some time at home to rest, I simply do everything I can to lighten his load in the house. That means taking care of two cats, returning phone calls from concerned friends and relatives, sorting my parents’ mail, doing my dad’s laundry, and simply keeping the house tidy and well-stocked with everything my family needs. Fortunately I’ve had some help from my family, but it still doesn’t afford me the hours I need in the day to finish my freelance and school work; Jayda comes home from school at 4:30 and I make sure to focus on her until she’s asleep at 8 pm, so I’ve found myself working late every night…with no end to my exhaustion in sight.

Worse yet, my poor daughter—whom I've tried to keep occupied and entertained when I’m with her—is sorely missing her grandma. Every evening, I make sure Jayda calls my mother, who always sounds overjoyed to hear Jayda’s voice, but it’s not enough. Last night, while we were cuddling in her bed, Jayda broke down and cried, and through her sobs, told me, “I miss grandma. And I miss my family.” She’s used to seeing my father and my niece every day—and both of them are constantly at the hospital now. Then, Jayda added, “but I don’t miss you, because you’re here.” And I assured her, “I’ll always be here, Jayda…as much as I can be. Always.”

I’m losing it. But I’m spread so thin that I don’t even have time to break down. And clearly, I have to keep it together for my daughter. So I do. And I always will. Jayda needs her mommy…and I need mine, too. I just hope she gets better—and comes back to all of us—soon.


Blogger Robin Gorman Newman said...

I hear ya Jamie. While I'm married, I lost my mom before I became a mom, and my dad, age 93, has been in and out of the hospital over the last five years...and is there in fact right now.

Life is challenging when you are caring for a young child and a parent. At least your parents have each other, and G-d will you mother will ultimately have a good recovery.

Yesterday my dad was taken to the ER and my son and I rushed over there (my husband was already there) and spent hours in the ER. My son afterward said he was bored there...but I explained that sometimes we are bored or even hate doing certain things and are sad about situations, but we have to be present for the person we strong...and know that while stressful, even scary health moments happen, and we do sadly lose people we love, treasuring the relationships we cultivate with them while they are here create memories and bonds we will always have.

All the best with your mother. You are lucky to have her...and your dad....even though she's not up to par. At least it's not a life-threatening disease.

Hang in there!

7:54 AM  
Blogger Cara Meyers said...

Jaime, you are a strong, courageous woman. I am certain that you will get through this.

Ten years ago, I was in a similar situation. My father was hit by a truck as a pedestrian and was in and out of Stony Brook Hospital and other local facilities for close to a year. My life literally changed overnight. I was living with my husband, working and taking classes towards a Masters Degree one day and the next day I had to move away from my family, into my father's house (my mother was deceased), quit my job, put my Degree on hold, and literally be my father's medical, legal and financial advocate. And spending 10-12 hours in the hospital because for some reason, doctors forget to write prescriptions for little things such as antibiotics for infections. That year was a horror. But I survived. I finished my Master's degree eventually, my father miraculously fully recovered, I resumed my life, but most importantly, I learned what is really important in life (my father, my family) and what wasn't (a job I didn't like anyway). And all of the "stuff" that was dumped in my lap became learning experiences that helped me with other obsticles later on. That was one of the most stressful years of my life. But I survived, became stronger, and realized what the priorities were in my life. I have every confidence you will too.

11:17 PM  

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