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#4 out of 20. My convalescent stay with my parents
The first week of March, our family took an impromptu trip to the Chicago area to visit my parents. What was intended to be a short trip ended up being about three weeks, when I fell and broke my leg in three places. I wrote about some of my experiences back in March, when I was going through it all:
My parents arranged a twin bed to be moved into their living room which has French doors that can close, providing my own private bedroom with first-floor access and close access to a half-bathroom. I can close the doors and turn on a fan at any time to get some quiet to sleep.
My parents raised four children of their own, three of them very active boys. As my dad says, they have “previous rodeo experience” in the parenting department. That said, my children’s needs are beyond typical. My parents (due to their geographical distance from our family) haven’t had extended periods of time around my kids. For the boys, a change in living space is hard; but a change to a new set of authority figures on top of that is even harder. So it’s been an adjustment for everyone. Tuesday brought a lot of meltdowns. I think it really hit Ezra that we were going to be here for a while and Grandma and Grandpa do a lot of things differently. All I could really do was lie in bed helpless and listen to him scream, and that was really hard.
My mom is quickly catching on to Ezra’s triggers as well as the intricacies in timing of his medication around not just dosing time but his moods, eating schedule, and transition between activities. It’s really more of an art than a science.
Now ten months removed from the events of last March, I have an even deeper appreciation for what happened to me:
It allowed me to re-bond with my parents
My 20s was a rough decade, particularly in my relationship with my parents. In honor of their privacy, I will not go into details. But suffice it to say, there was some conflict and hurt between us. The last few years has been healing for the relationship, but our contact remained limited because of the physical space between their home in Chicagoland and ours here in North Carolina.
Our initial visit was sweet and wonderful, then the tragedy of my injury occurred and turned everything upside down. We were all thrust into a situation where we had to stay so I could undergo surgery and be well enough to travel again.
While these were some of the darkest days of my life (physically and emotionally), my parents’ presence made it so much easier. While I would have loved the physical comforts of my own home, I think that there was really no better place for me to be – being cared for primarily by my mom.
She took me to the doctor and sat with me as I prepared for and came out of surgery. She bandaged and re-bandaged my leg. She brought everything I ate and drank right to my bedside. She bought me clothes that were more comfortable than the few things I had packed. Toward the end of the visit, she rigged up a lawn chair so I could take shower for the first time in about two weeks. She did all the things that moms do best.
It allowed them to bond with my kids
My parents were thrust out of the role of fun-loving grandparents and into the role of surrogate parents to my children. My children are wild, loud, strong-willed, and have many extenuating “needs” that go beyond one might typically expect out of children. They were also in a new environment, with one parent injured and one parent gone, on top of adjusting to learning about the coronavirus and entering the national state of quarantine and lockdown that happened in March. That’s a lot for kids to go through, and a lot for parents (and thus my parents) to deal with!
But my parents stepped up and gave it their all.
Because of my condition, I could not fill any responsibilities other than snuggles and reading. My parents were responsible for feeding them, bathing them, shopping for them, putting them to bed each night, entertaining them, and caring for my children’s every needs.
The bond between my kids and their grandparents has deepened. My mom has stated to me on multiple occasions how much she enjoyed “getting to know” my boys in new ways, especially Ezra.
My parents taught me a lot about the sacrificial, unconditional love that parents have for their children, no matter how those children are! While I would never want to repeat the circumstances that led to us living with my parents for three weeks, I look back on that time as a gift to our family and to my parents.