Usually it is fifteen hours per class.
This semester I have two classes that require them.
So a total of thirty hours for the semester.
It may not sound like much but of course most of them do not start right away due to red tape like fingerprinting and background checks.
Most must be completed by early April.
And the school teachers are hard to get set up with unless there is a connection already.
Do not even get me started on the lack of communication between me and the school teachers.
One of my professors gave the class a deal at the beginning of the semester.
We could volunteer with her friend's son instead of in a school.
We would be going to the child's home and working with him for an hour each week.
In exchange, we would not have to do the normal observation hours and we would not have to complete the weekly homework assignments.
Except this sixteen year old child is not normal.
He has a severe case of cerebral palsy.
I signed up.
Supposedly he is at age level developmentally but he is unable to communicate except for some grunting and some head movements.
He has a computer to communicate with his family but he does not use it during our sessions.
This boy can be lifted easily by one person he is so small.
His muscles have atrophied severely.
He is wheelchair bound.
He spastically moves his head, eyes, arms, and legs.
A group of four of us help him do some physical therapy exercises in order to help him belly crawl at the end of the hour.
Belly crawling may sound easy but we have to first warm up his hands.
Then deep pressure points on his upper extremities.
Then warm up his arms.
Helping him flip-over multiple times.
Then we use infrared on his legs.
Unlock his lower extremities.
Then in the last ten minutes or so, we help him crawl.
Maybe twice if he does well.
And sometimes maybe half.
Most days it takes the entire ten minutes to crawl about three feet.
It is an hour a week.
It is exhausting for me.
Yesterday, I realized something.
Roger would have never even been half as functional as this kid.
Roger would have been exhausting.
And it would not be an hour a week.
It would have been 168 hours a week.
I look at this child's mother.
She is tired.
She is stressed.
She is aging way faster than she should.
Her entire life is her son.
She tries to be positive and gives so much to him.
But he requires constant care.
That could have been me...
Except as a wife, not a mother.
And as crazy and dark and horrible as this sounds, I am grateful.
Grateful that this is my life.
Yes, I would love Roger to still be alive and well.
But I do not know if I could have been that strong.
This mother strong.
I do not know if I could have dedicated my entire being to the lifestyle of a caregiver.
When Roger was dying, I wanted him to survive.
But he didn't.
And despite the worst week of my life, I lead a mostly normal life.