Earlier this week I received an email from my friend Gail, the subject line read: Whole Roasted Chicken? Gail—who writes the blog Molehills Matter and is currently documenting her 90 day hiatus from facebook—was offering to bring us dinner.
There’s a few things I’ve learned over the past few weeks, while managing a less than fully functional family. The first and most important, is to accept help. I told Gail that yes, we would accept a whole roasted chicken and that Thursday would be perfect.
Tonight, Gail’s husband Russell, delivered to our door not only a gorgeous, perfectly roasted, organic, herb-encrusted chicken, but also fingerling potatoes and broccoli rabe with cranberries. Not just a whole roasted chicken, but a whole delicious meal! Thank you Russell and Gail.
It’s possible that you already know how to survive when your family is not up to par, but in case you don’t, please read on.
Having to care for an out of commission husband for an extended period of time, while not feeling 100% myself, has been a challenge. Here are some the things that I’ve learned:
1. Accept help. When someone offers to do something for me, my first response is almost always: No, that’s okay, I’ll manage. After all, their life is not any easier than mine, they might have 4 children, their own full-time job and family, friends visiting from out of town, or their hands full in some other way.
Thing is, when someone offers to help, they generally mean it. They want to help, and it makes them feel good to do it. So go ahead and say yes, and don’t feel guilty about it.
2. Throw money at the problem (and figure out how to pay for it later). This is not the time for frugality. I’ve thrown thriftiness out the window, and things are still tough! Hire a babysitter, a cleaning service, have groceries delivered, pay for a parking spot. Your bank account will suffer, your credit card bill will be sky-high, but life will be easier. To me, that’s worth a little debt.
3. Take advice with a grain of salt and then give some back. Over the past few weeks, it seemed like everyone and their grandmother had advice on what do do about Shane. In my heightened emotional state (due to pregnancy hormones and stress) I wasn’t always the most gracious listener. I was irritable, and I wasn’t able to hide it.
Most folks didn’t seem able to grasp the severity of Shane’s back problem. They suggested I take him here, bring him there, do this, try that (yoga?? hah!). All of which involved Shane actually getting out of bed and going somewhere. But he could barely walk farther than the bathroom! My emotional temperature was rising.
It’s all well and good to suggest he see a back specialist, but it took me hours and hours on the phone just to find one lousy doctor. Everyone I called was either booked up until October (despite my telling them it was an emergency) or didn’t accept our insurance. Not to mention the monumental task of actually getting him to a doctor.
I had to give him an elephant’s dose of Valium and Codeine just to get him out of the apartment. He nearly passed out several times on the way down from our 5th floor walk-up (and what the hell would pregnant little me have done with a 6′-5″, 250lb passed out guy?). By the time we were back from the doctor, his pain was worse than ever, he was back to square 1. Getting a second opinion was out of the question.
I understood that people wanted to help, I really did, and I was (and still am) grateful that so many people care. I also understood the feeling of helplessness, I was feeling pretty helpless too, but the impractical advice was doing me in.
Finally, I figured out how to handle all of the very well intentioned but unhelpful suggestions. One approach was to just thank you, and leave it at that. For the more persistent wanter-to-helpers, I said: Shane and I need to figure out how to handle this on our own, but if you really want to help, this is what you can do…
It’s hard to tell people to do things for you, but it works. You get what you need, they get what they need, everyone’s more or less happy. Problem solved!
Now to get Shane back on his feet.