Drowning

Jen

Drowning

Jen
lake-775911_640They say that when a person is drowning, they'll grab on to whatever they can and hold on for dear life. They'll even grab a hold of someone trying to save them. Sometimes, they push the person under, try to climb on them, or pin their arms. Sadly, both will perish. This is what caregiving feels like for me right now. I am trying, but I am sinking.

I work from home and put in between 40 to 60 hours per week. The other day, I had roughly two hours of work that had to be done before bed. That was it. My mom woke me at 6 a.m. and I tended to her. Got her ready for the day, fed her breakfast, etc. and by about 8 a.m., I began to work. By 8:15 or so, the kids were up. I got them ready for the day (the little ones are 4 and 7) and sat down to work again around 9 a.m. About 15 minutes later, my mom needed the restroom and wanted to go lay in bed. Okay, so I sat back down to work at 10 a.m. I fielded a few kid-disputes, got a round of snacks, helped the youngest in the bathroom, and worked in between until about 10:45, when my mom wanted to get up again. I could go on and on, but the shortened version of the story is that it took me about 12 hours to complete two hours of work that day.

I have explained to everyone at home that I have to work. There's no money for outside help to come in--it would eat through more than what I can earn. (I have someone who comes for a couple hours once a week, and I usually use the time to sleep.) I have to be able to support the household, and to do so, I spend a considerable amount of time at my computer. My usual day starts at 6 a.m. and I often do not go to bed until 2 a.m., just so I can log in enough hours to be able to feed everyone and keep the power on.

But, people don't seem to understand that. My kids do a better job of understanding my work time than my mother does. She gets edgy and nasty. I've changed the way I interact with her and now I ask "Is it urgent?" when she summons me. If she needs a bathroom break, I stop work right away. If she just has a "want," it waits until I can stop at a natural braking point. Even still, she doesn't seem to get it. She'll curse at me. (I hear her through the baby monitor that I use to communicate with her. I called her on it once. She denied it and then called me a liar.) Then, she won't tell me when it really is urgent, and gets mad at me if she doesn't make it to the bathroom on time. Sometimes, I feel like my 4 year old is more responsible and communicative than my mother is.

My mom gets mad about everything these days. Even if she only waits five minutes for me, it's too long. She's treating me like a servant. I don't understand how she can be that way. She gets edgy when I don't wake up right away. The other day, I had only two hours of sleep, and she told me, "get up off your lazy ass."

I am still waiting for Medicaid to come through. My mom wants to move to an assisted living facility. I keep calling and asking them to move on it, but there's a line, first-come-first-served... yada yada yada. The decrease in my ability to work has drastically cut my pay. My credit cards are maxed. Before my last payday, I found myself scrounging for quarters so I could go buy a package of hot dogs and some buns so everyone could eat. I can't believe how difficult day-to-day life has become. I work my fingers to the bone, and all I get is cursed at from the very person I'm working to help.

Every day, I walk a fine line. I don't know how people do this. I know they do. You, the person reading this, have probably been fighting the same battles. How do you do it? How do you balance between the good of the household, and treating the caree with dignity and concern? I really feel like my mom is sinking us all and I don't know how to stop it.

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