work life balance

Well, over the last few weeks, my life has clearly shown why I work from home: aging parents (one of which is still in the hospital and will likely still  be there for a few days), sick kids, field trip for Baby Bull, and the constant stress which tends to send me into sort of an obsessive-compulsive state of hypervigilence. Not sleeping well, constantly on the go, dealing with massive amounts of fatigue (had that fairly well under control)… 

The Good News? I Can Work from Anywhere

That’s one of the main attractions of working from home. I can take everything with me and, at least in theory, get some work done. Key word: some. This is important because when you spend your entire day driving around and getting people where they need to be for appointments, field trips, and then throw in grocery store trips (and other necessary things), you still have to work. Clients still depend on you (although my clients are the best clients in the world and understand what I’m currently dealing with). And there’s nothing worse in life than being in a car practically all day, going home and doing what you need to do to keep the house in (at least decent) order, and realizing Christ on a cracker…it’s 11 pm. And there’s still work. So, having the ability to work from a hospital waiting room, a fast food restaurant on a field trip, or even a parking lot…very important. You still won’t get it all done, but at least you won’t feel like a total fucking slacker. So, that’s the good news.

The Bad News? You Actually Can’t Work from Anywhere

Yesterday started off good enough. I had my personal cell phone, a work cell phone, my laptop, my calendar, and my notebook all packed up. The hospital has wi-fi. So, it sounded ideal. When we were on the fourth floor before he was wheeled down to surgery, everything worked: wi-fi, both cell phones…

We are taken down to the surgery waiting room on the first floor. Wi-fi is spotty and…the work cell phone has zero reception. Just. Fucking Great. First, I moved over to the area where we first came in (on the other side of the hospital) after he was wheeled back because I knew I had reception. Problem? It was probably 30 degrees there and a couple saw no problem with watching a movie turned all the way up on their cell phones. I got some work done, but not much.

Those two eventually left. My husband and oldest son brought my mother to where I sat and they left to go get food for all of us. What did she want to do? Complain about the cold (fair enough) and argue with me after asking me questions. I’d start to answer and she would start talking over me and arguing with me. I stopped responding which also pissed her off. I told her I wouldn’t bother answering her questions if she was going to talk over me.

I know when I’m beaten. I turned off the laptop, took her back to the surgery waiting area, and basically ran up and down two flights of stairs for the next four hours to check the work cell phone.

The Ugly? You’ll Get Told by Ungrateful People You Don’t Do Enough for Them

I have a moral dilemma involving my mother. When I was a teenager, she tried to kill me twice. I don’t mean that in a “parents wanna strangle rowdy teens” kinda way, either. She was adjudicated into a mental institution. She has paranoid schizophrenia, bipolar disorder, and dementia. For the most part, she takes her meds now. I would still never, ever be alone with her. To this day, she enjoys bragging to people about what she did and “got away with.” She’ll brag to her “friends” and her psychiatrist and doctor…but if they try to get her to see that what she did was wrong, she will conveniently pull the “I don’t remember ever doing that” card. In short? She’s the mistress of manipulation.

She doesn’t drive (she can’t). She can’t count her own money. She can’t remember where she puts certain things. She doesn’t always remember doing / saying certain things (but because she will also lie to get away with things, it’s hard to know when or if she honestly doesn’t remember).

When I taught college and worked in a law firm and still took care of her, she would call various family members and bitch and complain that because I worked, I didn’t do enough for her. These people would then text, call, and private message me bitching me out. They all knew I worked. And not a damn one of them would ever lift a finger to help. My brother doesn’t help with her either.

And here we are already starting down that road. The other day, Bull went to the store to get her some basic necessities (eggs and such). Then she started trying to add on other things to the list. Specific brands, etc. Originally, she asked her husband (hospitalized) for $15 to just buy those necessities. Instead of him having to deal with that, we’ll just go get them and be done.

A couple of days later, I looked in her freezers and pantry. Things were fairly bare. So I told her I would go to Crest and get some chicken and a few other things because it was on sale to help tide her over until her husband got home (because when someone is under the influence of pain meds in the hospital, it’s hard to know if they understand what’s going on). Then she started trying to give me this huge ass list of what she would and wouldn’t eat. No. That’s not how that works. But she “didn’t want chicken.” She wanted something else. I told her that when I do my own grocery shopping, we buy (primarily) what is on sale. That’s how you make your money AND your food last until the end of the month.

After we got home yesterday, Bull had to go to work for a while. I sat here and worked and her text messages started flying in about how I needed to drive back there (30 minutes) to pick her up and take her to the hospital. No, nothing was wrong with her husband. He was still asleep and didn’t even feel like company after surgery. For the record, when we go to the hospital, she doesn’t want to stay more than ten minutes before she’s ready to go home. I told her I had to work.

The texts have flown in this morning too about why I haven’t dropped everything at 8 am and taken her to the hospital. She does not give a shit that people have to work to take care of their own family and her. I had to lie to her and tell her Bull had to work. It’s just a partial lie. He does go to work this afternoon because he was called in for it last night, but if I don’t tell her it has to do with someone else, she treats me like I’m the bad guy and starts complaining to everyone about it.

Sometimes, there’s just no winning. There’s not even a reasonable compromise. I’ll try to get up there tonight, like I told the old man’s niece this morning. I’ll do what I can, but she expects me to just constantly be on the go and doing things only for her benefit. And life doesn’t work that way. She has what she needs so my personal moral obligations are met.

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