Monday, August 14, 2006
The Wheels on the Jeep go Guilt, Guilt, Guilt...
We got a call from my mother-in-law this morning. My father-in-law has apparently taken a turn for the worse and she wants Willem out there right this second.

Well... sure... but we live 8 hours away. And Willem is teaching a summer course, so that needs to be finished up, and he has a family here that needs to be cared for, and the various other details of life, so he can't just pack up and leave on ten minutes' notice. No matter how horrible that makes us.

Or - to be precise - me. It makes ME horrible. Because clearly Willem would never made a single decision that his mother doesn't like, so it must be my fault.

So, the plan is, Willem and Jacob are leaving first thing tomorrow morning, to head west. Jacob would ordinarily stay home with me, or I'd travel with them, except for this pesky JOB thing I have now. Ugh. Nothing worse than trying to be a responsible employee. I've been juggling all sorts of alternatives, how can we keep Jacob happy and cared for in the midst of craziness, and the best one I can come up with is to have him go with Willem, along with a list of phone numbers of people who can take Jacob for a few hours if things get REALLY bad.

They'll drive out, and then either Jacob can continue to Rochester with Willem or the ycan meet my mom part-way and Jacob can go with her. I asked my mother-in-law if she had a preference, and she was quick to (*gasp*) state a preference: "I think Jacob should see his grandfather one last time." Okay, a tad melodramatic, but at least she was stating a preference.

Then: "Where is Emily? Will she be coming out, too?" I explained that, no, she's at my mother's for the week and I don't think it's appropriate or necessary to interrupt her vacation to visit a sick grandfather. "WELL. Fine. You're the mother, it's your call. But if he dies and never gets to see her again......" [ominous trailing off here] ...what? If that, then what? Then her last memory of her grandfather will be of him coloring with her rather than of him breathing with an oxygen tank and barely able to speak? Oh, the horror.

Lest I sound totally insensitive, I do plan on taking her out for a short visit this weekend, on our way to Niagara Falls. But otherwise - no. She's six. That's an age that deserves some protection from the unpleasant realities of life, in my view. I wouldn't even be sending Jacob, if I had a choice, but I know that Willem will protect him from any really awkward situations (a death itself wouldn't be horrible for him to be around, but it would be very upsetting for him to see Dada and Grandma upset, too).

Ugh. Ugh. Ugh.

I don't NEED a guilt trip to make this harder. It's hard enough already.

I've already gone around and around in my head about whether I should pack up and go, too. My end-answer is no. Because there's nothing I can do to HELP my father-in-law, and my presence (or, for that matter, Willem's or the kids' or anyone else's) could be more stressful than supportive at this point - my father-in-law has been very explicit about not needing us out there, not wanting company, and so on. If I felt like there was something I could do, then screw the job, family's more important. Argh.

This being-a-grownup thing is just a lot more work than I was looking for.