My husband got into a pretty bad accident this week and will need surgery in a few days. He is at home and his pain is managed, but he can't move around much. I'm now in charge of doing everything in our house as well as taking care of him, and I'm having trouble coping.
posted by oysters oysters oysters eat eat eat to Human Relations (28 answers total) 12 users marked this as a favorite
I am married to one of the best people. He has tried to make this past week as easy as possible for me, but he usually does 50% of the chores and childcare, maybe even a little more. He will not be able to help me for another two months and will not be back to 100% until next summer, so I feel a little overwhelmed to suddenly have to take care of both of our chores and childcare duties. Plus, since he is not very mobile I have to take care of him, too.
We both have pretty demanding careers, so it felt like we were just over the line of making it when we were both healthy, but I felt a little squished living a life that was 98% work and domestic tasks. Now I feel pancaked. We're both working most of the holiday weekend to make up for time out of work this week as well as next week, so it's possible that many of my low feelings are stemming from that right now.
I really want to do this without complaining or dumping any negative feelings on my already injured husband. I've watched my role-models, my in-laws and parents, take care of their family members without breaking down or snapping. I can't help but feel disappointed at myself for being irritated at having to drop what I'm doing just a few times a day. I don't even have to administer shots! I know my husband knows me well enough to curb his requests to only the most essential ones because I'm bad at being a helper, so the last thing I want to do is pout at him. But I don't even have the energy to smile at him even though he asks so little. He deserves more than that, but I feel like I'm back in that awful place when my child was breastfeeding constantly and I was so drained that I couldn't even look at my husband.
I've been setting boundaries about the chores I will take over from him. I will buy him more underpants rather than wash clothes more than once a week. I will not be as fastidious about the recycling. I can't make the pets a special dish everyday and they probably won't notice if I do, anyway. But the household list is still so long and I want to hide in my room just thinking about it.
Ordinarily, this is the kind of trouble I would just buy my way out of, but the medical bills on top of recent necessary home repairs have sent us into frugal mode for the foreseeable future. I'm questioning every purchase at this point.
Lots of people have offered to help, and some are even with us now. I can't sort out the serious offers from the ones that are just words. I've been getting an enormous amount of help with the kid, and it's been enough to keep my head above the water for now, but I know our family members need to go back home and our friends have lives. I'm not sure how to patch things together between now and that unknown day when my husband is well enough to have his chore list back.
On the other hand, I just feel so invaded by the people who are currently helping. They are always in the way unloading the dishwasher when I need to get to the cupboard or I just want them to go home so I can go to the bathroom or take a shower in peace. Which is stupid, of course, because I need them so much, but I feel like I'm pasting on a happy face so that they feel appreciated. And I totally appreciate them, but also want my house back at the same time; I am a complex woman right now.
Really, I am trying to take care of myself, but it is the guiltiest, least satisfying downtime, ever.
Plus, this shouldn't be that bad, right? I am fortunate that my husband is mostly in one piece, that I have just one fairly well-behaved kid, a house that should not be that hard to manage, and people who will help me. I feel so silly asking for help when he's not even hurt that bad. Why is all of this so hard? I feel like I've seen so many friends and family do this without breaking a sweat. I know my impulse to wait until I am overloaded 110% is the wrong one, but anything less feels like being a weak-willed complainer and taking advantage of others.
(If you see this, dear, please know that I love you, and will continue taking care of you no matter what, and will totally get you a glass of water right now.)
Here is where I need your help:
• Have you done this? How did you do this?
• How do I sort through offers to help (some of them for very specific things), and make sure some of them happen? How do you organize help when you don't even have time for school shopping and school starts Tuesday? Some of the help I need can't be scheduled, like when my husband falls.
• How can I make sure that my husband feels comfortable asking for whatever he needs? I'm trying to hide my crabby, stupid feelings inside, but he knows me better than anyone. He can always see right through me.
• How do you balance being an introvert with accepting help?
• How can I tell being lazy from just feeling tired and overwhelmed?
• My kid is young and taking this pretty well, but fighting with us about some new things, which is taxing our low reserves. Is there more I can do for her other than tell her what is going on? She already knows not to jump on daddy.
• I was given an enormous, important work assignment the day before the accident. I've farmed out as much as I can, but much of it matches a special skill set (like speaking medical Uzbek) that solely belongs to me at my company. I really want to do this project and do it well, but that might not be possible. I'm not sure how to deal with that, career wise. A lot of my stress is having this hang over my head at the same time as my spouse's surgery. (I think I know the answer to this one: "Schedule a meeting with the boss asap!")