16 years ago, when our daughter was 3 years old, everyone in the family had a cold. Zoey got it first and was too sick to go to daycare. The cold developed into a sinus infection for John and me, and an ear infection for Zoey. Zoey got better before John and me. We’d been trying to carry off our life responsibilities while we were feeling crummy. By the second or third week of this, we were cranky and bickering frequently. Zoey noticed and was curious.

Zoey: “Are you and Dad argoooooing?”
Me: “Yes, Dad and I have been arguing. I’m sorry.”
Zoey: “You shouldn’t argue. You should problem-solve!”

Some day I will write a book about rearing a child who outsmarts me right and left, but today is not that day. Problem-solving was a pretty good idea. Bickering really doesn’t lower stress, which was the main problem. We were sick, leaving us with inadequate energy resources for our normal life routines.

Recently, life has been piling on. My husband caught this horrible cold four weeks ago so I was picking up extra chores at home. Two weeks ago, I got the cold and it’s a particularly nasty and long-lasting one. I spent about a week on the couch and I am still recovering. I got all dressed for the March for Our Lives in Seattle and realized that I am just not up for it. My husband left and will be protesting for two. I’m disappointed because I really wanted to support the march. I am reminding myself that there are a lot of ways to support this national group of high school students working for gun safety including the monetary contributions that I have already made.

I have what will likely be a hard week coming up. My dad’s health problems have multiplied in unexpected ways. He was in the hospital for nearly a week while I was at the height of my cold. I couldn’t even call by phone for a few days because I had no voice. Thank goodness for email and texting. He has three medical appointments next week. I am going to two of them, scheduled back-to-back on Monday. We’ll learn some important test results as well as discuss a treatment plan. On Thursday, my oldest brother is accompanying my parents for a surgery consultation. On top of everything else, my poor dad has had gallstones and needs to have his gall bladder removed.

My husband has also been exhausted much of the time for the past year. About 2-3 years ago, I noticed that he was snoring heavily and that there were long gaps between breaths. I suggested that he get checked for sleep apnea. He agreed that it was a good idea but there were things that were higher priority for him at the time. As time has gone by, he has gotten increasingly impaired. He just found out that he has severe sleep apnea and he will get a CPAP machine in about a week. How bad has his sleep deprivation been? So bad that John is ecstatic with his diagnosis and eager to begin treatment. I think he will start feeling much better in about 6 weeks but it’s been a long slog.

I am doing as much problem-solving as I can to be able handle all of this. I’m prioritizing my activities and eliminating non-essentials. Unfortunately, that meant canceling a trip to Stanford University for a SCAD patient retreat. I am not eliminating all self-care, just the self-care that takes a great deal of time and energy. A trip to California meets those criteria. Getting a pedicure with leg and foot massage following an acupuncture treatment did not take up too much time and was restorative. Meeting my friend, Nancy, for an early dinner did not take up too much time and was very fun. I rarely get to spend time with my friends.

Yesterday, my life slowed down a bit after a busy work week. I am absorbing a lot. The hardest thing to absorb is acceptance that there are many important problems that I can’t solve. I can’t make my 85-year-old dad live forever. I can’t eliminate my 83-year-old mother’s caregiving responsibilities.

Life is a lot.