I spent all last week going back and forth to visit my adult son in the hospital. He was there for observation only, so no trauma was involved, as was often the case during childhood hospitalizations.
Some readers know about Daryl, but for those who don’t, very briefly: he was born with hydrocephalus, necessitating multiple surgeries, which later led to seizures. Now 44, he’s developed a new (for him) kind of seizure, so his doctor wanted to conduct this assessment, a high-tech procedure called telemetry, hooking patients up to machines and monitoring them 24/7. It’s not painful, just a pain in the ass: Daryl wasn’t happy, to put it mildly, and because of his neurological issues he has low tolerance for inconvenience and an even lower ability to self-censor. In other words, he bitched a whole lot, mostly at me.
I rented a car to avoid using public transit going from the East Bay to SF every day. Whenever I rent a car I try to get a zillion things done, and I’d planned to do the same before and after each hospital visit–but on the first day I realized I’d forgotten what it’s like to spend seven and eight-hour stretches trying to keep a hospital patient amused–or even just being there: a kind of zombie-like mentality sinks in after awhile, and you’re lucky if you can keep your eyes open, much less go running about during off hours. I ended up going straight home every night and crashing in front of the television.
One good thing came out of this week: I am completely cured of wanting a car. I’ve been without one for four years now, and this week reminded me what a pain in the ass it is to drive in rush hour, rain, darkness, over the Bay Bridge; to pump gas, (never mind pay for it!); and to hassle with parking (I got one ticket and dented the rear bumper crashing into a parking garage pole). And I don’t even have to worry about this car’s maintenance! I returned the thing this morning and felt good riddance, relieved that the insurance I paid $11 a day for covered the dented bumper.
The point of this rant, though, is this: I got some perspective on the so-called Mommy Wars between mothers who go out to work and mothers who stay home with their babies/children. My life experience includes all of it: by my count I’ve had 75 jobs, most of a secretarial nature, and I’ve also spent long periods of time staying home with kids. Additionally, I’ve had to maintain a more intense involvement with my son than is common for most parents of adults.
I am here to say that it is far, far more difficult, in every conceivable way, to care for children than it is to work outside the home.
I’ll go even further: in some cases work is a pleasure and escape from the demands of motherhood. Now that I work freelance at home, I’m absolutely thrilled today at the prospect of an entire week at my computer. No more jumping out of bed when I wanted to stay there, putting on presentable clothing and makeup, collecting the dozens of objects so necessary for a day away from home–lipstick, meds, reading material, change of shoes, plus whatever Daryl happened to need, etc.–then trying to remember where I parked the car the night before, crawling through traffic to the toll booths before finally crossing the bridge; driving around and around to find a parking space in the garage, getting a cup of coffee, standing squashed against other humans in an elevator up to the 8th floor; being greeted with a raging invective against nurses who can’t seem to find veins (Daryl’s arms look like he’s been in a boxing match), and starting the long daily routine of meals, doctor consults, helping Daryl to the bathroom, and on and on and on.
I know, it doesn’t sound that terrible in the telling; in fact, I could tell stories that’d raise the hair on your head, of when he was younger and in the hospital post-surgery, stories about those surgeries, and infections, and shunt failures, and arrogant doctors, and a frightened young mother. I could tell even worse stories about other people and their children. Last week’s hospital trip doesn’t really sound so terrible. But it was.
As stated, I’m thrilled to be back at my computer. I hadn’t planned on blogging, but I found I had to vent before I could resume work on the book I’m currently ghostwriting. I apologize if this was as boring to read as to experience.