That is the question . . .at least it is one that arises often in our home.
For those of us who live in a family where one spouse has a disability it can be a fine line to discern.
When Jerry drops something and it is out of his reach do I automatically stop what I am doing and go pick it up, or do I leave it for him to recover with his reachers? Is there a certain amount of time he should try before calling “uncle” and I help?
What about putting on his coat? These cold winter days tighten CP (cerebral palsy) muscles quickly making it harder and more time consuming for Jerry to put his coat on. Should I stop what I am doing to help him? Should he work it through on his own because when he goes to put it on after leaving the appointment he is headed to I won’t be there and he’ll have to be able to do it alone?
The question goes both ways.
What about for me – when I am missing one or two items to complete the menu? Do I ask Jerry, who is already out, to stop and get them at the grocery store even though it will add at least 45 minutes to his time frame, or do I run out and be back in 15 minutes? Should I be calling him when I am a few minutes from home giving him a heads up that I will need to his help to carry in the groceries? I could certainly unload them on my own, and likely even faster; meanwhile he has had to bookmark where he is in his reading, research or other work. Is it worth it?
We don’t struggle with questions like these because of whose role we think it might be. Rather the question come in thinking through what is the tradeoff? And the answer to that question varies day to day, and sometimes hour to hour.
There is the truth that I can help Jerry gain a significant amount of time in his day by assisting him with some of his personal care needs, household tasks and typing. Yet each time I assist him to gain time I lose a bit of time in my day. Likewise, he gives up some of his precious time to help me. Somedays that works just fine. Other days it can be a bit like sandpaper.
We often talk about how much is enough when it comes to money. That is a needful conversation. It is rarer that we talk about how much is enough when it comes to time, which perhaps is a more valuable commodity than money.
We don’t pretend to have the answers, though we sure wish we did. How do you handle these types of disability accommodations and time in your family?