I fell and injured my elbow on Labor Day. Bone chip and laceration. No big deal, right?
Not so. I was in the student services offices yesterday on campus making an appointment with the disabilities counselor. I have lost the full use of my dominant arm. It is a big deal. It is affecting every area of my life. It is affecting my brain.
I mentioned that I was struggling even more than normal with memory, and the woman who schedules appointments for the counselors mentioned that it makes sense: losing the use of an arm is going to confuse the brain. Right? I hadn’t thought about that.
Every time I go to reach for a piece of mail or my coffee mug, I have to stop and switch to my left hand (or forget and experience pain). Every time I brush my teeth or wash my hair, I have to allow my left hand to dominate the process. I have numbness in my left arm from chronic Lyme disease, so this is not an easy task.
I am a single mom. I have one minor and two adult children living with me. I have the only car. I attend class twice a week and have other online classes. I am the responsible one around here.
I have endured a trauma (another trauma — the long list over the past few years means this is just one more in a long line of traumas). I need care. I need someone to help me.
I can ask my sons to do this or do that, bring me this or bring me that. But that is not care. That is following orders.
What happens when the primary caregiver in a family needs care? Real care?
Since the time I was first infected with Lyme disease, I have not received real care. I’m not feeling sorry for myself here. I am realizing something important, a failure in my parenting.
I am going to sit my sons down and explain what is going on with me and what I need from them. Their dad never taught them to care for a woman because he never cared for me (I mean meeting physical and emotional needs, not the emotion). He would push me into our bedroom, close the door and mostly ignore me, but never truly cared for me when I was sick. My sons need to learn differently.
This is very important. As a parent, we need to teach our children to care for others. I mean the action word: care. Not the emotion.
My house is a huge mess, and I can’t do anything about it. I do my school work and then collapse in exhaustion. I am taking public transportation because it is not easy for me to drive and my son’s work schedule has been conflicting with my class schedule. Being gone for 8 hours is exhausting. My sons need to learn to care for someone who is sick or injured. And it is my job to teach them.
It is my job to teach my children to care for others.