When my son was born, and after a day of lying-in I was told that I could leave the hospital and take him home, I burst into tears. It wasn't the emotion of the moment: it was shock and horror. Who in their right mind would allow me-ignorant of all childcare matters, an indifferent babysitter in my teen-age years, a youngest child who had never changed a diaper-to take full possession of this creature? Never in my life have I ever been presented with a job for which I was so poorly prepared. If, say, at age thirteen I had been told to drive a car, I would have at least seen cars driven in movies and probably had played on a simulator at some game arcade. A baby? I knew nothing about babies at all.
I never thought I'd ever be as dumbfounded by a life task as I was by parenting, but once again I am. My mother is eighty-seven-a widow, in fairly good physical health, but mentally deteriorating. This all came as a shock to me, the idea that my parent would start needing me rather than the other way around, and there is nothing that I can draw on to make me feel like I know what I'm doing. Just as I did when my son was born, I'm scrambling: I'm buying books about dealing with elderly parents, signing up for e-newsletters, doing research. It's interesting but finally useless. There is nothing new about my situation, just as there was nothing new about having a baby, but that doesn't help. The fact that I am not the first person to have a parent forget the day of the week or get lost driving home doesn't make it less upsetting, and doesn't help me know what to do. My son, who is now in kindergarten, has a class at school called "Life Skills" on Thursday afternoons. Was that the class I forgot to take?
(Read the rest at the link above.)
Causes Susan Orlean Supports
Human Rights Watch