Tuesday, February 26, 2008

The US Government Hates My Family (and isn't too fond of yours, either)

(WARNING -- Pregnancy/baby will be mentioned. Not to mention politics and I'M CRANKY. Be warned).

Like millions of other expectant couples, H and I are trying to figure out WHAT we are going to do with Spunketta, once he arrives.

The problem is, *I* am the main breadwinner, the one with benefits and a steady income. So that knocks ME out of the equation. I must work, or the family will starve. (Okay. Maybe not STARVE, but I think it's good for children to have health insurance. Don't you?)

So H comes up with an alternative: his job is mainly freelance, he can work from home and take care of Spunketta. And Mama too, for that matter.

We get excited. There are all these THINGS that we want to do for Mama that we have never had a chance to. We want to hook her up with a neurologist, and see what the brain doc can do for her. We want to send her to a psychiatrist, to monitor her condition. We want to get her in "aquatic therapy," which we don't know if exists. (Mainly, Mama LOVES to be in a pool. And we've always wanted to figure out a way to get her down to the local Y on a regular basis). And that doesn't even count field trips! The Modern Museum of Art has one day a month set aside for dementia sufferers and their caregivers; the museum is closed to all others. Oh, the places we could go!

And as for Spunketta, we figure he can be right there, handing with Dad and Nona, enjoying it all. Bobbing along in the water, giggling at the paintings, napping at the doctors. It;s going to be perfect, the best life imaginable.

And then.

And then we find out that the United States government hates my family (and isn't too fond of yours, either). Heck, I'll even go one further: the United States government is trying to destroy families.

Let me explain...

I have money set aside at work to pay for childcare (or Mama care, for that matter). DCA, or Dependent Care Account. I let them know my plans, or FAR TOO LATE to change my election, I get a troubling e-mail. "We're not sure you can hire your husband to watch your child," it reads, "contact the IRS.")

So I do. And they say, no. "You cannot hire either the parent of the child or your spouse for childcare and get a tax deduction."

"But if he takes a pay cut to take care of the family..." I restate.

"That's admirable!" says the IRS fella. Admirable, schmadirable. What about the financial toll on the family?

"It's what families are supposed to do," tax guy preaches, "so we're not going to pay you for it."

"So I can hire anyone else to care for my child, and use my DCA funds and/or get a tax credit?"


"I can hire an illegal immigrant who sympathises with Al Qaeda and has pedophile tendencies to care for my child... but not my husband?"

"Well, yes, but you can't get a tax credit for hiring an illegal immigrant," the witty IRS fella ripostes.


So H and I get disappointed. But he refuses to give up hope. After all, Mama gets a Home Care Attendant, and we can still hire him for that, right? (The V.isiting N.urse S.ervice, who lied to me about so much, who botched and bungled almost every aspect of Mama's care, assured me that it could happen).


"If you could get paid for taking care of your ill family members," explains my Geriatric Care Manager, "well, everyone would do it then, wouldn't they?"

Can you imagine? A country where you can not be penalized for taking care of your family? Where you can be rewarded for it? Can you see it?

*I* can't. I live in the United States of America. And they hate families here.

(I actually has a co-worker suggest that H and I get divorced, and then I try to apply for aid. Apparently, it's what she and the father of her children have done. They've been together for 5 years, but if they get married (as they want to), she loses all sorts of assistance with her rent and food. And they can't afford to live without it. So they lie to the government, because the government doesn't support family-building. Only family-fracturing).

So I will continue to work full-time. And H will continue work as much as he can (he's working two jobs for the entire month of March). And we will continue to hire strangers to care for Mama, and eventually for our child. Because even though there's a dozen or so reports that say that it's best to be cared for by your family (both elder and child), and even though every third politician will preach about the importance of family, well, the US government doesn't agree.

Monday, February 25, 2008

Social Service Workers and the Walker Wars

I've been dealing with folks who work in the Social Services a lot in the past few years, what with caring for Mama. I've found that the folks that you deal with usually fall into a couple of categories.

One is the really great people who are loving, giving, and truly trying to make the world a better place. Marie, for example, used to work at Mama's daycare and was always planning special trips and activities and all sorts of out-of-the box stuff. Because of her, Mama went to Christmas parties and visited the beach. (Mama loved it and misses her dearly. Well, the activities at least).

A second is the folks who just look it as a job. Which is fine, as long as they are competent and (to some point) caring. Or at least take pride in their work. This is the type I've run into most often. There's nothing wrong with them, but don't try calling on 5:01PM and expect them to answer the phone. (Heck, don't try calling at 4:45PM and expect them to care).

A third is the type that I lovingly refer to as Burnt Out Husk of a Human. This is the one who's taken a job in Social Service to work out some personal issues of their own. They're usually smokers, and extremely angry. They went in this industry to feel loved and appreciated and since that almost never happens (or at least not to their satisfaction) they get really, REALLY bitter. My mother falls squarely into this category, so I go on AND ON about the type. Sadly, she's not the only one of this category I've known. Others include an administrator at Mama's old day care and a nurse at Mama's old doctor. Sad, pathetic angry women, all.

The fourth (and final) type is the "do-gooder." These are the ones who will lecture, who will make choices against the wishes of the patient and family, BECAUSE THEY KNOW BEST. Mama's old social worker was one of these; she lectured to me repeatedly that it was "selfish" of me to have a full-time job rather than dedicate myself 24/7 to my mother-in-law. Mama's current physical therapist is like this; it's immaterial to her that Mama's new walker isn't not only causing Mama pain to operate it, but also causing her to stumble and trip. The PT knows that this one is best and that's all she cares about.

This is what I've been dealing with lately; the Walker Wars, as H dubbed them. Trying to get the PT to switch Mama back from to a 4-wheeled walker from a 2-wheeled walker. (It may not sound like much, but it's WAY different for Mama). The PT feels Mama is too "impulsive" and that a 4-wheeled walker gives her "too much flexibility." So she's switched Mama to a 2-wheeled walker to slow Mama down and make it hard for her to around.

What the heck? Mama is NOT D.anica P.atrick, for crying out loud. Even with a 4-wheeled walker she was slow. With a 2-wheeled walker she's slower and FRUSTRATED, because she remembers being able to move better, faster.


Thanks for listening. I know have to go fight round 12 of the Walker Wars.

And how are you?

Monday, February 11, 2008

So I'm Going to Break a Rule

It's a rule of my own, never discussed and never revealed until know, when I break it. But here it is:

My rule was to never complain about the p.

The thought behind my rule was that, well, this is at its heart an IF blog, and it seems (to me) just so rude to complain about something that I wanted more than anything nce I've gotten it. In additiona to which, I know that there are more than a few who would gladly switch places with me, mama and all, if it meant being five months along.

So. I'm whiny, I'm rude, and I know it. And I beg your indulgence.

And I'm going to complain now.

I would appreciate all of you out there to please PLEASE please fervently pray that I make it to 39 weeks, at least. In what, I'm sure, God thought was a pretty neat trick, my due date is one week after my one year anniversary at my job. Yes, I know I have actually been at my place of employ for FOUR lovely years, but they only OFFICIALLY hired me eight months ago.

If I give birth one day before my anniversary, and/or I am somehow incapacitated so that I cannot work until my that day, I get nothing. I have to be present, working and still pregnant on my one-year anniversary to qualify for Parental Leave.

If I don't make it, I get nothing. NOTHING. Six to eight weeks of "liability leave" which pays $170 a week. Have I mentioned that I support my family? Have I mentioned how broke we are? If I don't qualify for Parental Leave, we're going to have to declare bankruptcy.


I chatted with the HR rep in charge of Parental Leave to get this info. There is no wiggle room. To quote the rep, "Nobody says we have to do anything except give your job back to you."

Good times.

So. Repeat after me: 39 weeks. 39 weeks.