Annie Lane: Partner’s health troubles are impacting my mental health
Published 5:29 pm Friday, May 26, 2023
Dear Annie: My partner was made disabled last year and is confined to a wheelchair. At the moment, he is in the hospital and has been since last August. When he was in the spinal unit, I only saw him three days a week but would FaceTime every day. Now that he is closer to me, he wants me to be at his bedside seven days a week.
My doctor, who knows us both, said I need to take time for myself and has explained this to my partner, but still he moans that I am not at the hospital seven days a week for five hours each time. When I do go, he is asleep most of the time or moaning at the nurses that he wants his medication. I understand that this is a massive change to his life, and that my life has to change, too, but is it wrong to want two days to myself so I can chill and do what I need to do? Please help.
— Bedside Bond
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Dear Bedside: Look at it this way: You can go to the hospital seven days a week, making yourself miserable and making your partner miserable with your pessimistic attitude, OR you can go to the hospital three days a week, take care of yourself the other four days (and possibly FaceTime when he is alert), and actually be uplifting and helpful while around your partner. The choice is yours.
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Dear Annie: I’m writing regarding “Toddler Missing Daddy,” who was the wife seeking help with her emotionally distraught daughter when the husband of the house is out truck-driving for days at a time. It made me wonder if Dad gets to be the “fun” parent because he is around less.
When our now-adult kids were tiny, my husband was gone from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. most days, sometimes till 11 p.m., two to three days a week. I was home with the kids. The days were often long and hard. Routine was what got me through. When Dad was home, he was the fun parent and schedules went out the window.
The kids would get overtired, and I was the “bad guy” who had them when they were exhausted and causing tantrums. I was the one who “made” them eat their veggies, brush their teeth and be in bed on time; who handled swimming lessons, dentist and doctor’s appointments, speech therapy, medication, and also played with them all day long while keeping the house clean, food in the fridge and everything else.
Once we realized this, we made sure that he spent some time on the tasks I usually handled, say swapping the laundry while I did puzzles with the kids or cooking while I cuddled on the couch with them. I loved your calendar idea. Being able to cross off days and have a concrete symbol of how much time is left until Dad is back home is perfect.
This stage passes. It seems like it won’t, but it definitely does.
— Mom Who Can Relate
Dear Mom: An excellent suggestion and one a few other readers wrote in with, too. It’s not only important for the kids to see but also for both parents to strike and keep the right balance of chores and play. Even though Dad might not be home all the time, it’s crucial he makes the most of it when he is, in the role of not just father, but husband and partner.
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