Parenting ‘competed’ with caregiving for my attention that morning of Patti’s first MS exacerbation and every morning in the years to come.
Patti could never again safely hold or carry our daughter, never changed another diaper, and couldn’t read to her … you get the picture.
On the other hand, I was blessed with an opportunity denied to most males. Raising a daughter as the nurturing parent and sharing the wide eyed wonder of childhood was beyond priceless.
At first I was overwhelmed. With confidence came the relaxation to enjoy childhood. I may have learned as much from playing with Barbie’s as from the world’s great philosophers.
There has been some debate over which of us would grow up first Megan or me. The first time you grow up everyone is in such a rush.
There were some things I never saw coming such as the first menstrual bleeding. Hey! I’m a guy raising a daughter, when did she get to be a young woman?
I would do the single digit years again any time any place. The teen years, once is enough.
Parenting & Caregiving also had a dark side and eventually I could no longer work full time. With Patti’s progression, bladder and bowel incontinence plus outbursts of emotional lability were potential nightmares with Megan and her friends playing at the house after school. There is only so much a young child can do for a parent. I had to be there. Again, it’s about choice. I chose family.
We worked to keep the family together. We began to divide time up between ‘family activities’ and ‘able bodied activities’. After all Megan would have to live in an able bodied world. So many things can only be learned by doing them.
Megan, at age 16, and we as a family faced her Mother’s admittance to a 24/7 care facility. That’s more than unusual at an age when most kids are trying to fly under the radar.
Home caregiving rarely stands alone. In ‘our story’ parenting was an equal partner from 18 months to 18 years.