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The pros and cons of assistance

“Do you think you will need some assistance when you go home?” the outplacement co-ordinator asked me.

Although my bullheaded instinct is to always say we can handle it, this time I hesitated. I was sitting in a team meeting about half way through my son’s 80-day rehabilitation from hip surgery.

“What kind of assistance?” I asked.  Well, “What did I think I would need? Help bathing Deane? Getting him up in the morning? Feeding him?” responded the co-ordinator.

Yes, yes and yes! I may be stubborn, but I’m not dumb. My husband and I have managed up until this point on our own, with private childcare covering the gaps. But going home while Deane was still recovering? Some help sounded like an excellent idea.

The government agency approved us for 7 hours a week – an hour a day freed up in my schedule.

Mornings have always been the toughest time for me. Getting Deane up, into the bathroom, dressed and fed while getting his lunch ready seems like a Olympic Pentathlon. My husband and I have divided responsibilities by floor: he’s upstairs in the bedroom and bathroom. I’m downstairs in the kitchen and dinning room.

That seemed like the logical time for assistance. The Government-contracted company sent a woman who was at our door, dark and early. She was diligent and responsible – and a stranger.

My husband felt awkward having her in the room while he was cajoling Deane into waking up. Deane didn’t like somebody he didn’t know physically positioning his head so he would eat. Soon, he began to refuse to eat for her unless my husband or I were at the table.

So, I switched my request to have someone help at dinner, acknowledging that none of us are morning people. This would also help me out as it can often take Deane more than an hour to eat dinner.

This is an improvement, but Deane, who does not like change, still won’t eat most days unless I sit at the table reading stories. He also figures if I’m nearby – washing dishes, cooking his sister’s dinner – I should be feeding him, not a woman he doesn’t know.

I’m loath to give up the government-paid hours, but I’m not sure this is simplifying things. Because Deane is having trouble staying awake through dinner at 6, our “dinner lady” comes at 5. This means I make dinner for Deane at 5, for my daughter at 6 and for my husband and me whenever.

All-in-all, I’m having a hard time finding those extra hours the assistance was supposed to create.

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