Friday, 27 April 2012

Respite - is it wrong to take a break?

I was due four hours respite yesterday but they cancelled and have come today instead.  It has actually worked out remarkably well, because Cheeky is at nursery so it really is four hours ‘me’ time. 

This is what I had planned to do in that time: wash up, change the beds, put two boxes full of folded washing away, ironing, tidy up the pit that is our conservatory  Cheeky’s playroom, sort out all the paperwork dominating every available space in the kitchen, find the table under more of said paperwork, chase up Little H’s statement, find the floor under the pile of clothes in the bedrooms and hoover it, make lasagne for dinner.

This is what I did: watched last night’s Coronation Street, had a really long bath full of bubbles, read a few chapters of a book I started two months ago, had two cups of coffee, wrote this.


I feel a bit guilty about taking respite when H is well.  Because when he is healthy, he is actually quite easy.  He’s quite a content, happy, chilled out little man.  But when he is poorly, my God he is hard work.  But then, when he IS poorly, I wouldn’t trust anyone to look after him properly anyway.  So what’s the point of me having respite, if I get it when I don’t really need it and wouldn’t take it when I do?  Does that make sense?

After the upset of last week forcing me to acknowledge some horrible truths that I had buried in the recesses of my mind, I genuinely considered not taking H back to the hospice for respite.  We’re not really using it effectively as respite anyway, more as a family day out with an extra pair of hands.  I know, I know, it’s ridiculous not to consider going back because of what happened, but the blinkers were taken off for me and I’ve been confronted by H’s mortality.  I’d hidden away from it relatively effectively on a day to day basis – surfacing occasionally so that’d I‘d write a few words about it (here and here) and then block it from my mind.  I’m not sure how well I’ll be able to hide from it now if I go back there.  I say if, I know I’ll be back.  The boys love swimming there so I will just have to get over it.  I know I’ll get over it.  But, well ... you know ...

Being confronted by the awful reality hit me hard and I still feel tender from it.  You know that feeling you carry with you after someone has died?  An air of sadness that seems to hang around your shoulders and weigh heavy on your heart?  I feel like that.  A bit battered.  A bit war weary.  That day, after the conversation, I wouldn’t let H go.  The idea was that I was supposed to be taking a bit more of a back seat, do a bit of reading and let someone else take over for a while.  But after that, I wouldn’t let them near him.  He’s mine, he’s my son, my baby, it’s my job to look after him.  And I started to question myself – when the unthinkable happens, am I going to be happy that I read that chapter of the book or will I rue the hours I spent away from him?  I can’t get that time back.  I decided I needed to spend every second with him and make the most of them.

I digress slightly, though I’m not entirely sure what my point was to begin with.  Perhaps I am questioning whether I want respite, whether I need respite.  I feel so guilty about asking someone else to have him for a few hours so that I can get some peace/get some jobs done/spend some time with Cheeky.  And yet everyone, no really – EVERYONE – says we needs it, we should have it, we should want it.  But I can’t quite shake this feeling that I am wasting precious hours. 

I’ve tried to put it into context.  If H was a different child, an easier child, then I’d actually not think twice about asking his Granny to babysit, dropping him to a mate’s house so I could get the shopping done in peace, I’d relish those hours and that time.  It wouldn’t make me a worse parent and it wouldn’t mean I’d love him any less.  Cheeky has sleepovers at his Granny’s; he spends afternoons with his Grandad; has days out with his uncles and he spends three mornings a week at nursery.  I know this is a good thing for him (and me).  I don’t question that it means I can’t cope.  Why then all these additional feelings of guilt associated with someone else looking after H for a few hours? Perhaps it’s because it’s strangers doing it and not friends or family.  Perhaps the fact that someone else is being paid to do my job makes it harder to accept.  But H isn’t like Cheeky, he isn’t like other children and so this is the way it has to be.

Our community nurse pointed out something yesterday when I was going round in circles over this.  She said that a few hours ‘me time’ would help to recharge the battery so that I could cope in the harder times.  (Well she actually said time for me and Mr. M.  She is mightily concerned that we need a night out together but we had four hours out together 11 months ago, what more do we need?  Anyway, that’s a thought for another day).  And there’s no denying it, when Little H is well he is a delight, but when things are rough they are REALLY rough.  And I am exhausted.  There are no two ways about it.  I also look like absolute shit because I am so exhausted.  So today, I have put aside my guilt, taken a deep breath and enjoyed the few hours of peace.  And H had a whale of a time playing with his carer.  The jobs that needed doing still need to be done – some of them will get done (dinner) some of them won’t (ironing) ever!

I’d be lying if I said I feel like a new woman – I am still exhausted and I still look like shit but I’m cleaner than I was few hours ago so that’s a start.

This post is written as part of the #definenormal blogging challenge courtesy of the lovely RenataBplus3 from Just bring the chocolate

Why not join in?  Define your 'normal' and get a fancy badge, like the one on the right, to add to your blog.

Don't forget to check out the other #definenormal posts too.