When I was growing up, I always thought that when I got married, my husband and I would be equal. I guess I wasn’t just imagining “equal,” but completely the same. We would split up all our responsibilities right down the middle. It would be totally fair. Well, it hasn’t turned out that way, but I’m completely okay with that!
It turns out that my husband works full time, and I stay at home. I happen to like that arrangement, and for our family it seems to be the plan that works the best. Because Craig is gone most of the daytime hours, working a full day and commuting on the train to and from work, the majority of stuff around the house falls to me to accomplish. While this is different from what I envisioned as a kid, I’m also okay with that, mostly because once Craig gets home we are “equal” again, and he does a ton. But it also doesn’t seem fair (or nice) to require him to work extra hours into the night to do things that I can more easily accomplish while I’m here.
We have a similar balance in our “diabetes relationship” with each other and with James. I’d say I do the majority of blood sugar monitoring simply because I spend many more hours a day with James! That means that I also do more carb-counting, and insulin administration. I’m great at taking care of preparing meals for him, ordering diabetes supplies and even taking James to endocrinologist visits.
But let me be clear, Craig is totally my equal partner in caring for James. What I mean is, the minute that he is home, he is testing James, he is watching him for signs of lows or highs, he is counting carbs in snacks and meals, and he is giving insulin. He knows precisely how to care for James in my absence, and he has a couple of awesome skills that I really use to my advantage.
Craig is an awesome infusion set changer. James decided a few months ago that he didn’t like getting his insulin pump infusion set changed. So we started doing it at night once he was asleep. This can be a little tricky. First, James shares a room with his two brothers! We are very good now at sneaking in there and making sure we don’t wake the little guys. Also, James now sleeps on a bunk bed -- the TOP of the bunk bed -- and getting up there and moving around is a little hard for me.
That’s where my husband and his height (6-foot-4) and mad nighttime maneuvering skills come in handy! Each time we do an infusion set change, I prep the insulin and pump, and I get my talented husband to help get that thing on James in a nice secure way.
While I’m the “number guy” and am good at figuring out trends in blood sugar and insulin doses, Craig is definitely the “technology guy” who helps me figure out really helpful diabetes apps on my smart phone and any computer connectivity issues that we have when we download the information from James’ pump. I find this kind of help absolutely invaluable, and it takes advantage of Craig’s natural strengths.
I think this system works for the two of us because we’ve each figured out ways that we can be of help, and it works in the rhythm of our lives. We’ve given up trying to be “equal” and have concentrated instead on being fair, which is really kind of a different thing. I do more diabetes-related tasks (it is true), but I don’t feel resentment, because I know that Craig is helping as much as he can. For his part, despite his long day, Craig is happy to help out because he wants to be involved in James’ care, and he has made the effort to really learn diabetes inside and out. He’s totally emotionally invested, and he’s always looking to do his part. I must say, together we make a pretty good team.
About the author: My name is Jennifer, and I live in Southern California with my husband, Craig, and our three boys. Our oldest son James has been diagnosed with type 1 diabetes. I’m thankful for this opportunity -- along with my sister-in-law Kim and her daughter Kaitlyn, who also has type 1 diabetes -- to share our struggles and triumphs with our friends in the diabetes community.
Disclaimer: The experiences and suggestions recounted in these articles are not intended as medical advice, and they are not necessarily the "typical" experiences of families with a child who has type 1 diabetes. These situations are unique to the families depicted. Families should check with their healthcare professionals regarding the treatment of type 1 diabetes and the frequency of blood glucose monitoring. Jen and Kim are real moms of kids with type 1 diabetes and have been compensated for their contributions to this site.
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