As in, "time flies" since we won't actually be flying back to Ohio this time. We got to spend a couple of weeks back in St Louis catching up on house cleaning and doctor's appointments and the like, but on Tuesday we'll be renting a minivan and driving back to Columbus with Jack for Thanksgiving. He'll stay for the holiday festivities, but then he has to head right back to Missouri and Nathan, my mom and I will follow sometime later. I still need to figure out how long we'll be staying this time around. It really depends upon how my grandmother is doing and how helpful we can be for my aunt Brigid and cousin Kim, who are shouldering most of the day-to-day time commitment right now.
We've gotten occasional updates on my grandmother's condition, but I'm not really sure how significant her improvement has been since we left. I'm hope all those incremental improvements that don't seem all that dramatic on a daily basis, will end up seeming really dramatic to us after two weeks away.
I worry that this back and forth puts a noticeable strain on my mother's condition, so this trip will be a test as to how often we can get to Columbus to help out. I want to be able to support Brigid as much as possible, but if it's at the expense of my mom's health, then it's kind of counter-productive.
She's been okay the past couple of weeks here in St. Louis, but not great. We've had a lot of evenings where she's been basically non-responsive and getting her ready for bed on those nights takes FORever. She's exhibiting signs of depression and despite increasingly profound difficulties with communication, she's actually seemed to express on several occasions that she's not happy living here. Unfortunately she has NOT been able to engage in any kind of cogent discussion about the other choices available to her.
I'm sure this kind of conversation stirs up all kinds of anxieties in her, which tends to inhibit her fluidity with language. This leaves me guessing most of the time as to what she wants or what she is feeling and I'm sure I'm probably wrong as often as not. I really do think I do a good job at being patient and giving her opportunities to try and do things herself before jumping in, but while trying to help her through a difficult situation yesterday, she really shut down on me, physically and emotionally, and wouldn't even make eye contact with me as I tried to coach her through the necessary motions. When I asked at one point, I'm sure with some frustration, "why won't you look at me?" She said, "I'm scared of you."
I try not to take things like this too personally, but it leaves me wondering what I'm doing wrong and what I could do better or if maybe just the inescapable intimacy of the parent-child relationship makes it impossible for the caretaker relationship to ever feel completely comfortable.
All of these dramas, of course, usually occur with Nathan either screaming in the background, climbing on the dog, climbing on me, turning on the hot water to the tub, trying to take my mother's medications, playing patty-cake in the toilet bowl...the list could go on forever. I juggle the two roles as gracefully as I can, but it's impossible not to wonder if I'm just short-changing everyone, including Jack.
Over the last week, we've been trying to work on Nathan's sleep habits with an eye to getting him to finally start sleeping through the night. I went to a talk by a pediatric sleep specialist last week and came home with some good ideas and new motivation to make it happen. We actually have made some progress towards making the mid-night snacks go a little faster and end with him in his crib and not in our bed, though it's complicated a bit when Jack's daughter is with us since she shares that room too. I just hope this next trip to Ohio doesn't undo all the productive gains that we've made so far.
Really, all I want for Christmas is eight hours of uninterrupted sleep and I think that would be a sure thing if not for all of this inconsistency in our lives. As it is, maybe it's more realistic to hope for it as a Valentine's Day present.