I had a column written. It was light and funny. About me going back and forth over having a second baby. And then my dad called.
My dad is in assisted living in another state. He’ll turn 72 this week. And he has dementia, but don’t tell him that.
He called me at the office. Of course I took the call, even though I really didn’t have the time. My workdays are packed trying to get everything done in eight hours. Once I get home, all my time belongs to Tommy until bedtime.
I know I need to stay in touch with my dad, but being a full-time working mom is no joke. According to a Pew Research Study that recently made the rounds on Facebook, 4 in 10 full-time working moms say they always feel rushed. And 56 percent of all working parents with children under age 18 say the work-family balancing act is difficult.
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The study also said that full-time working moms are more likely than mothers who are employed part time or not employed to say they spend too little time with their children and to say they don’t have enough time away from their children to get together with friends or pursue interests.
Sounds about right. It’s hard enough for me to juggle home and work. Add in an ailing parent and I just feel bound to fail.
When I talk to my dad, I’m not sure what’s real and what’s not. I try to be sympathetic because I know he’s lonely, frustrated, confused, angry.
And now that I’m a parent too, I think that this could be me in 40 years. I’d want Tommy to call me. I’d want him to listen and be nice to me.
I feel bad for Tommy, too. It breaks my heart to think that he will never know my dad the way I knew him.
This day my dad was telling me again that his assisted living facility wants him out. (Doubtful.) So he’d like to move to senior housing instead. He can’t live on his own anymore, but of course he doesn’t want to hear that.
I told him to wait until I come home for Christmas and we can discuss it then. I’m hoping he’ll forget and just be happy to see me and the baby. He’s only met Tommy once because he can’t travel on his own.
I’m hoping he will remember who Tommy is. Sometimes he calls him his nephew and he thinks I’m his sister.
It really is beyond hard to juggle working, being a good mom and being a good daughter. I try to look for little things that I can do so I don’t get stressed out just thinking about everything.
For Father’s Day, I made my dad a picture book and got him a mug that says “No. 1 Grandpa” so he’d remember he has a grandson now.
This Christmas, the small thing I will do for both of them is capture some memories.
I’ll take Tommy to see my dad. And I’ll try to take lots of pictures of the two of them. A year from now, neither one of them may remember. But at least I will. And maybe I’ll feel like at least that day, I didn’t fail at being a good mom and a good daughter.
To reach freelancer Pamela E. Spencer, send email to firstname.lastname@example.org.