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'A childhood that began with a sort of cautious optimism quickly devolved into absolute horse shit.'
June 20, 2012 7:15 AM   Subscribe

My mother became my daughter when I was nine years old.
I sat in the waiting room with the kind of faceless authority figure who sits with your child when you are her only person, in my pajamas: milk spilled down the front, urine staining the crotch, reading Harriet the Spy and completely unaware of the major shift occurring beneath the tectonic plates of my life. There was a blood clot in her brain, at the site of impact, and the doctors had to shave her head and crack her skull open to get it out before it ruptured and killed her. And they did, which was a kind of a little miracle.
posted by the man of twists and turns (62 comments total) 43 users marked this as a favorite

 
Thank you for posting; this piece devastated me yesterday.
posted by psylosyren at 7:21 AM on June 20, 2012


Oh my God.
posted by wenestvedt at 7:26 AM on June 20, 2012 [5 favorites]


Heartbreaking and amazing piece.
posted by ColdChef at 7:27 AM on June 20, 2012


At this point, pretty much everyone else can stop complaining about whatever they were complaining about.

Powerful article, thanks for posting this, it really puts life in perspective.
posted by HuronBob at 7:28 AM on June 20, 2012 [12 favorites]


Ok. Basically, shouldn't have read this at work. So near to tears that I can't speak.

Although the "my baby" bit got a little repetitive, and it seemed a little forced.

But holy shit. Wow. Intense.
posted by Night_owl at 7:30 AM on June 20, 2012


Okay, depressing.

But: I'm having sort of a weird reaction here. Yeah, that's a shitty story. But it sounds like it was made a lot shittier by the author's childhood refusal to accept the help that was offered. Social services may not be awesome, but they're there, and it's hard for me to see how they could have done anything but make this situation better. The author is, in a sense, incredibly lucky that things worked out as well as she did, because as a nine-year old kid, she might not have been able to deal if a serious emergency had occurred while her mother was under her care. What if she or her mother had gotten sick? What if she had been in an accident of her own? While foster care is no fun, is it worse than this?

I mean, here:
If only we knew our neighbors better, if only I could call someone to help me, if only I hadn’t been a selfish fucking bitch who thought it was more important to hang around the park with this group of idiot popular people who were all completely oblivious to my existence than it was to get home to my mother four hours earlier than I did, maybe this would have turned out a different way.
The author seems to be coming down a bit hard on herself, but there were people she could have called to help. They made themselves known to her. She seems to have been constantly involved with social services and constantly refused their help. Which makes a certain amount of intuitive sense, given her age at the time, but it was still probably the wrong thing to do, and she knew it at the time.

I dunno. It's a terrible story, and it shows the kinds of choices people make for love. I'm reminded of this. I dunno.
posted by valkyryn at 7:33 AM on June 20, 2012


Childhood comes with little in the way of perspective. To an adult, accepting social services in exchange for reduced time with your loved one is an acceptable compromise. To a child, compromise == failure.
posted by LogicalDash at 7:35 AM on June 20, 2012 [15 favorites]


But it sounds like it was made a lot shittier by the author's childhood refusal to accept the help that was offered. Social services may not be awesome, but they're there, and it's hard for me to see how they could have done anything but make this situation better.

Adults understand that. Nine year olds, not so much.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 7:37 AM on June 20, 2012 [14 favorites]


But it sounds like it was made a lot shittier by the author's childhood refusal to accept the help that was offered.

Kids are dumb. This is not meant as an attack on kids, but a nine year old just isn't equipped to understand that yes, putting her mother into long-term care and yes, entering the foster system, are probably the best options. She just knows that people are trying to end her life with her mother, 'who had done nothing but love me and try her hardest to make me feel special.'

Fierce loyalty.
posted by the man of twists and turns at 7:38 AM on June 20, 2012 [31 favorites]


The social services system failed the kid. The kid didn't fail the system.
posted by brain_drain at 7:43 AM on June 20, 2012 [29 favorites]


I see some parallels with my own Daughter's relationship with my Wife in this; and it frankly chills me to the bone. This was heartbreaking to read.
posted by NiteMayr at 7:43 AM on June 20, 2012


It's really difficult to say anything about this story. I hope the author is getting help and taking care of her well-being, because this experience still seems to be a huge part of who she is and how she feels about herself.

But more generally, what's up with that instinct to not let on and keep a lid on it that most people, but especially children seem to have in situations like these? It's common with the chronically ill, and people who are losing their ability to live independently, and victims of abuse, and in all sorts of other situations.

I think, like a lot of very strong responses, this one is fundamentally rational. And the rationale is, "Given what I have survived, any change from the status quo is bound to be much, much worse."

It is the tragedy of the care-taking professions that this kind of thinking is so difficult to short-circuit.
posted by Nomyte at 7:45 AM on June 20, 2012 [3 favorites]


But: I'm having sort of a weird reaction here. Yeah, that's a shitty story. But it sounds like it was made a lot shittier by the author's childhood refusal to accept the help that was offered.

At the end, she mentions that her mother was abused in the nursing home and she was abused in foster care. So, yeah, I'm not sure how much the help that was offered actually improved the situation. Changing out one shitty situation for another equally shitty but different situation is not an improvement.
posted by jacquilynne at 7:49 AM on June 20, 2012 [18 favorites]


I thought of my 11 year old daughter while I read this (how could I not), and I simply cannot imagine her put into this kind of situation. It's not that I am unable to imagine it, it's that I must not allow myself to imagine it, because it will wreck me emotionally if I do. Thanks for posting this powerful piece. I really hope the author is getting the help she needs.
posted by Rock Steady at 7:52 AM on June 20, 2012 [3 favorites]


But it sounds like it was made a lot shittier by the author's childhood refusal to accept the help that was offered.

I would read this piece as a sort of child-like account of those years, rather than a factual recounting. Clearly, there was some sort of help, because these things didn't arrange themselves and hint at some kind of social service involvement:

We had moved again so that we could be closer to the fire station... There was a bench for sitting and a bar installed in the shower, and a raised toilet seat to make it easier for my mom to do things for herself during the day while I was at school.

Having said that, I can understand the need to lie and disguise the truth, because had the true measure of this family's situation been known to social services, the mother would have been institutionalised and the child would have been put into care. That's why children are big on not let on and keep a lid on it.
posted by DarlingBri at 7:53 AM on June 20, 2012 [6 favorites]


Hey, so, you know, guys: when the girl was finally forced into accepting help from the social services system, it ended with her mother being placed in a nursing home where the workers beat her for not moving fast enough, and the girl being placed in a foster home where she says she was mistreated.

She and her mother had already been on food stamps and disability and it's quite possible the girl had already interacted a fair bit with the system and already, even at nine, understood that certain really bad side effects -- including abuse of either or both of them, and prolonged separation from her mother -- were a distinct possibility.

It's awful, but maybe she wasn't making such terrible decisions refusing help after all. When you grow up in poverty you learn to distrust the system for good reason. My parents divorced when I was four, and my father was crazy and neglectful toward his children, and my very young mother struggled to provide. There were certain times during my childhood when I could have called social services on myself and had a shiny new foster home in a hot minute. But I'd interacted with social workers, and some of them were kind, and some of them raised every hair on the back of my little neck for what I imagine now were damned good reasons. And I knew some kids who had been in and out of foster (because, you know, it's not usually the case that you get to go to one stable new family and stay there -- instead, usually, you get shuffled around and around and sometimes go back to your bio family). And those kids were not happy.

Besides, when you love your mother, and you know she is a good person, the last thing you want to do, as a kid, is go find yourself a stranger to replace her. Those feelings don't change just because your mother is poor, or because she has a disability.
posted by BlueJae at 7:54 AM on June 20, 2012 [58 favorites]


So I'm going to veer a little bit and then come back to that, Nomyte. And this is a generalized 'you,' not a specific.


Task saturation, also known as helmet fire in the aviation community, generally doesn't happen all at once. You get one thing, and you handle it. It went well. So you get something else, and handle that. That goes fine. So you get a third thing, and then it goes ok.

But well, fine and ok are pretty damn good, handling three things together. But there's another - four. Another, five. Another, six... and now it's not ok. So maybe you put the first one down for a bit - 'No, sorry, I can't come to the sleepover.' Becuase six is really important. And then its seven, and eight, and then two drops: 'I didn't finish that paper, can I get an extension?'

And nine, and ten, and eleven, and twelve and thirteenandfourteenandfifteen.

You have to run as fast as you can just to stay in the same place. And everything that isn't essential, and necessary (sure friends are important, and school is important, but there isn't that TIE, that BOND, these are just things to get through) get dropped. Like a juggler with too many balls.

Being able to break task saturation (or avoid it in the first place) is a very important skill. Many many people never develop it.
posted by the man of twists and turns at 7:55 AM on June 20, 2012 [35 favorites]


I think the author is also the one who writes the hilarious and insightful blog bitches gotta eat.
posted by clockzero at 7:58 AM on June 20, 2012


Her mother.

.
posted by Fizz at 7:58 AM on June 20, 2012 [2 favorites]


Powerful stuff.
posted by Uther Bentrazor at 8:01 AM on June 20, 2012


A childhood that began with a sort of cautious optimism quickly devolved into absolute horse shit.

And not sugar-coated, adversity-made-me-a-better-person horse shit either. Because, despite what we so often read, it doesn't always do that. Sometimes adversity fucking blows and you want to wail and bash yourself against a wall.
posted by scratch at 8:04 AM on June 20, 2012 [2 favorites]


You know you're on Metafilter when a beautiful, powerful, moving story like this is posted -- and grown-ups immediately begin judging a 9-year-old girl for her childlike lack of critical thinking skills.

Thank you for posting this, the man of twists and turns.
posted by Coatlicue at 8:05 AM on June 20, 2012 [20 favorites]


That was just heart-breaking.
posted by oddman at 8:15 AM on June 20, 2012


I would read this piece as a sort of child-like account of those years, rather than a factual recounting. Clearly, there was some sort of help, because these things didn't arrange themselves and hint at some kind of social service involvement:

It was a bit hard to tell what was the author's current perspective and what was the author's recounting of a 9-year-old's thought process.
posted by deanc at 8:17 AM on June 20, 2012


Cool, I wasn't feeling like a shallow faker enough this week, this should do the trick nicely.
posted by Sokka shot first at 8:19 AM on June 20, 2012


Suddenly, my life seems a lot less stressful than I thought it was a moment ago.

I can't even imagine having to go through what she's gone through at such a young age. And yet, she survived it. She is a very strong person.
posted by eye of newt at 8:31 AM on June 20, 2012


That is so heartbreaking. I want to reach out and give Samantha a hug and tell her, "It's not your fault. NOTHING was your fault. You were just a child, coping with circumstances no child should have to deal with. You didn't cause your mother's disability and death, you couldn't prevent it, please stop saying it's your fault."

She did the best she could - she was NINE, for god's sake.

As for social services, they can be helpful or they can be a nightmare. For poor kids of color, it's often more on the "nightmare" end of things. I can't really blame Samantha for her decision to not involve social services - especially since she was abused once she got into a foster home, and her mother was abused in the nursing home.

What does make me wonder (and shake my head) is the apparent lack of family and friends. Dad was a homeless alcoholic. It seems Samantha was an only child. Did her mother have any friends or family at all? Did anyone on her dad's side give a shit about their grandchild or niece? I think one of the saddest things implied in this article is of a woman so socially isolated that her young child is truly the only one who cares about her. No family or friends who cared; not even a neighbor who would do more than let Samantha borrow the phone. That's chilling. I don't blame Samantha at all, I blame any friends and family there were for not giving a shit about a CHILD in dire circumstances and stepping up to help. The neighbors must have at least suspected that there was a child trying to care for her disabled mother all by herself and their response was a collective "meh?" Not even "I can watch your mom for an hour" or "Here's a casserole?" WTF?
posted by Rosie M. Banks at 8:37 AM on June 20, 2012 [2 favorites]


The neighbors must have at least suspected that there was a child trying to care for her disabled mother all by herself and their response was a collective "meh?" Not even "I can watch your mom for an hour" or "Here's a casserole?" WTF?

A few years of reading "AskMe" has taught me that there are lots of people who don't really get out much or talk to that many people and like it that way. And lots of people aren't in touch with their parents or extended family. Of course we aren't really aware of who these people are because, by definition, how would we?
posted by deanc at 8:42 AM on June 20, 2012 [1 favorite]


Absolutely tragic story. Completely heartbreaking.

Let's not forget that this will affect this woman terribly for the rest of her life. Will she have children of her own? What if her health eventually mirrors her mother's life when her child/children is/are nine? OK, she better not have children. But then who will take care of her should her health fail her? This isn't run-of-the-mill old age here.

It terrifies me just thinking about it. Strong woman is exactly right!
posted by InsertNiftyNameHere at 8:46 AM on June 20, 2012 [1 favorite]


But more generally, what's up with that instinct to not let on and keep a lid on it that most people, but especially children seem to have in situations like these? It's common with the chronically ill, and people who are losing their ability to live independently, and victims of abuse, and in all sorts of other situations.

Because social services are not equipped to help very well, and tend to lean towards "take the child out of the situation." Even if the parent is not abusive, loves their kid very much and would never lay a finger on them. In some states, kids can even be taken away if the adult can't afford enough rooms for gender-segregated bedrooms. And if you're a kid, as said above, you don't want to lose your parent just because you're poor. Just because your parent is weak.

That's not to mention the fact that the foster system is rife with both physical and sexual abuse, and institutionalized care is really shitty. You don't want to send your parents to it. That's why you have elderly people taking care of increasingly more elderly parents they're barely able to handle.
posted by corb at 8:46 AM on June 20, 2012 [7 favorites]


At the end, she mentions that her mother was abused in the nursing home and she was abused in foster care. So, yeah, I'm not sure how much the help that was offered actually improved the situation. Changing out one shitty situation for another equally shitty but different situation is not an improvement.

This. A thousand times, this. In my personal (and admittedly limited) experience, government intervention often takes the form of cataclysmic change, as if the Holmes and Rahe Stress Scale is being used as a checklist, instead of an evaluative tool. Family members are separated, and often shunted into situations that may not be equally crappy, but are still utter shit. Existing associational networks (if there are any)—of neighbors, family members, schoolmates and teachers, etc.—are disrupted, leaving individuals even more dependent on governmental solutions, and isolated from one another.

The way things stand, there are a number of benefits to not entering that system. It's not so much a matter of "short-circuiting thinking," as it is providing individuals genuinely better options, and some semblance of personal control.
posted by evidenceofabsence at 8:51 AM on June 20, 2012 [4 favorites]


Oh man I hope Sam Irby sees this thread and joins MeFi. I've had an Internet crush on her since I stumbled across her blog, bitches gotta eat, a while ago.
posted by BitterOldPunk at 8:52 AM on June 20, 2012


Will she have children of her own? What if her health eventually mirrors her mother's life when her child/children is/are nine?

MS isn't thought to be hereditary, and the mother's dramatic loss of function all at once was likely the result of the brain injury from the car accident.

That said, my mum died when I was 12 and that's why I didn't have my own children.
posted by Sidhedevil at 8:56 AM on June 20, 2012


She was sitting on the side of the bed we shared, eyes unfocused, drooling and unresponsive.

That's more horrifying than every horror movie ever made.
posted by qxntpqbbbqxl at 8:58 AM on June 20, 2012 [2 favorites]


Will she have children of her own? What if her health eventually mirrors her mother's life when her child/children is/are nine? OK, she better not have children. But then who will take care of her should her health fail her?

I don't think that anyone shouldn't have kids just because of their health or a chronic illness. But if the issue is, "who will take care of her should her health fail her?" then it's not about having kids to forestall that. It's about having someone, anyone, who will care about her - not provide hands-on nursing care, necessarily, but at least visit her in the nursing home or reach out to say "hello" if she's stuck at home.

It's a whole universe of suck if the only people looking after you are those who are paid to do so. I don't think family is necessarily the answer, because God knows we see toxic abusive family stories here on MeFi all the time. Nor was there a Good Old Days regarding this, either - a quick look through London Lives or a read of They Way We Never Were by Stephanie Coontz will dispel any notions of that.

The way I read it, the only person who gave a frog's patootie about Sam's mom was Sam herself. That's not good, when the only person who even cares if you're alive is your nine-year-old, because kids aren't equipped emotionally to deal with that - though Sam really did her absolute best, as much or more than any child could, I think.

What Sam and her mother needed were adults who cared, friends or family, not just impersonal professionals. That's what they didn't have - Sam went into foster care (no family willing/able to take her in) and mom went unvisited and abused at the home.

For the record, I'm childfree, and I never thought that "having someone to care for you" was a good reason to have kids, at least for me. But I have given good long thought to "who will care if I live or die?" (and kids don't necessarily care, either!).

I hope, with all my heart, that Sam finds peace, and knows she did her best, and that she cared about and loved her mom, and nothing that happened was at all her fault.
posted by Rosie M. Banks at 9:03 AM on June 20, 2012 [3 favorites]


But more generally, what's up with that instinct to not let on and keep a lid on it that most people, but especially children seem to have in situations like these?

Totally rational in this case. Her other options were foster care or living with the abusive alcoholic father; caring for her mother, however grueling it must have been, may have seemed like the best option by far.

Another thing is that black people in the US tend to have a far more skeptical attitude than their white counterparts that the People Who Are Here To Help from the government will actually help. This is also absolutely rational, as the many accounts of systemic racism in social services attest. (And it seems to have been totally rational on Ms. Irby's part, given what went down in the nursing home.)

It kills me that she blames herself for her suicide attempt and for her mother's catastrophic collapse. She did everything she could, and it was so much more than most people could or would have done. She was climbing an Everest of misfortune, and she did so heroically.
posted by Sidhedevil at 9:08 AM on June 20, 2012 [5 favorites]


I know it's been mentioned twice already, but holy shit, her blog is amazeballs.
posted by evidenceofabsence at 9:14 AM on June 20, 2012 [1 favorite]


But: I'm having sort of a weird reaction here. Yeah, that's a shitty story. But it sounds like it was made a lot shittier by the author's childhood refusal to accept the help that was offered. Social services may not be awesome, but they're there, and it's hard for me to see how they could have done anything but make this situation better.

Social services wouldn't had let her live together with her mother/daughter, would've broken up the family to warehouse them both in inadequate or hostile environments.

As it did in the end.

If you haven't been in that situation, you cannot judge.
posted by MartinWisse at 9:20 AM on June 20, 2012 [3 favorites]


If you haven't been in that situation, you cannot judge.

Geez, people, who said I was doing that? I just wondered if even though her decision is understandable, letting social services take the hand they wanted to take might have been a better idea. I can't say I would have done differently in her shoes, but that just means that kids don't necessarily know what's best. I shouldn't think was controversial.

So I totally know why she did the things she did, and it's not as if she had made different choices that everything would have been better. Seriously.
posted by valkyryn at 9:33 AM on June 20, 2012


You know you're on Metafilter when a beautiful, powerful, moving story like this is posted -- and grown-ups immediately begin judging a 9-year-old girl for her childlike lack of critical thinking skills.

Yeah, the second part of that sentence is shitty, but I have difficulties with calling this beautiful or moving or anything that reduces the live of this woman to just another story for us to shed a few tears about; this wasn't written for our entertainment.

You can't help but feel for her and be touched by what she went through, but graah I'm feeling uneasy about it.
posted by MartinWisse at 9:34 AM on June 20, 2012


I can't say I would have done differently in her shoes, but that just means that kids don't necessarily know what's best. I shouldn't think was controversial.

I think the only controversial part was that it did sort of sound like you were criticizing her for her actions; you said, "yeah, shitty story, but it sounds like it was made shittier by her actions...." That sounds kind of like, "yeah, shitty story, but it was her own fault."

The fact that kids don't know what's best is not controversial; on the contrary, it's something we all know. And that's maybe what you said came across in that unexpected way (I mean, yeah, we all know that she didn't know what was best, and that's why we were staying with the "sympathize with her for not knowing what else to do and having to go through that" instead of going to "sage acknowledgement that she should have done something different", I guess).
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 9:37 AM on June 20, 2012 [1 favorite]


MartinWisse, I totally understand your uneasiness.

What I'm consciously trying to do after reading is remember the story so the next time I feel the urge to judge someone by their appearance, I can take their circumstances into account first.

Yeah, I'm a straight white male with the invisible backpack of white privilege that goes with that, but by God I'm going to try to keep this story near the top of the pack so it comes out first.
posted by infinitewindow at 9:42 AM on June 20, 2012 [2 favorites]


Besides, when you love your mother, and you know she is a good person, the last thing you want to do, as a kid, is go find yourself a stranger to replace her. Those feelings don't change just because your mother is poor, or because she has a disability.

From experience, I would add: even when you know she is a bad person who could destroy you, and even if you don't particularly love her, or you have days when you do and days when you hate her.

Both of my parents were abusive and I was offered a couple of chances as a kid from distant relatives to "escape" the situation and "better" myself, which were probably made more out of a sense of noblesse oblige than anything else. Who knows? Maybe I was a shithead for refusing those offers. (Not to say that they weren't tempting.) But I will say that family loyalty is a pretty damn strong bond, even when it's a noose.
posted by blucevalo at 9:43 AM on June 20, 2012 [7 favorites]


Whether it's social services or assisted living or a nursing home, some people don't believe in shoving others off for someone else to take care of, even when things prove difficult.

Everyone told me to put my mom in assisted living/nursing home when she was dying. We trid it for one day. As soon as I saw the place, I KNEW this was not right---not right for me, not right for her, and overall not right for the majority of patients. I saw a disoriented woman sitting there just moaning alone. My god, I wouldn't want that to happen to me, why would I want it for my mom?

I saw my aunt take care of my grandmother who had Parkinson's for nearly 20 years. It's what I saw and I admired it.

Now that my mom is gone and my dad is alone, the FIRST thing people are saying is put him in a home. No way. Either he lives closer or he moves in with us. I don't trust people. People at their weakest are too vulnerable for abuse.

Not judging those who participate in the care system, I just know for me, I just couldn't do it.
posted by stormpooper at 10:11 AM on June 20, 2012


My mother became my daughter when I was nine years old.

As tragic and depressing as this story was, I am grateful that it wasn't the tragic and depressing story that I imagined it would be when I read this line.

Today I read a story in which a nine year old was not married to her own grandfather. At least there's that.
posted by Parasite Unseen at 10:27 AM on June 20, 2012 [7 favorites]


For those folks in-thread questioning why Sam didn't let social services help... you might want to check out the Fosterhood in NYC blog. It's written by a single white female foster parent, about her experiences with the system and the unique and shitty ways that kids continually get fucked over by the people we put in charge of "helping" them.

And she's one of the awesome foster parents out there who is working to change the system from within. There aren't enough foster parents like her in the system. There are way, WAY too many foster parents of the variety that Sam got stuck with.
posted by palomar at 10:31 AM on June 20, 2012 [3 favorites]


From experience, I would add: even when you know she is a bad person who could destroy you, and even if you don't particularly love her, or you have days when you do and days when you hate her.

This.

Avedon Carol, a long long time ago, said something similar, that abused children don't necessarily want their mother or father taken away and put into prison, they just want the abuse to stop.
posted by MartinWisse at 10:35 AM on June 20, 2012 [5 favorites]


I spent about 30 minutes straight crying. I've been in this woman's shoes. My mother has MS, I've been the primary caretaker when all you wanted to do is hang out with your friends. Instead, it's rush home to get your mom onto the toilet because she can't do it by herself and my gosh how long has she had to hold it by now?

It's a blanket of pain, fear, and love all wound together with the thoughts that it all rests on your tiny shoulders to keep it together. Your concepts of failure are unlike any other child's around you. They fail a test, don't make it to the next level in a game, whatever - they get to dust themselves off and try again. Your failure could spell the end of it all. Whether the "all" refers to your mom's life, your ability to live together, or just that that night's dinner will be another round of rice stuffed with rice because you couldn't afford the beans - you don't know, and at that age, you don't have the ability to comprehend it.

The people who weren't family that were supposed to help ended up in red tape and hoops to jump through rather than actually providing real help. You do learn quickly that even if they mean well, that the help to be provided comes with strings attached.

You can't expect a nine year old to understand. You really can't even expect them to hold it together as well as she did.
posted by skittlekicks at 10:42 AM on June 20, 2012 [10 favorites]


All I can think when I read things like this (and I do, far too often for my own good) is how incredibly important it is to be kind to every person you come in contact with, even the ones you don't like very much, because you can never tell what kind of hell they're dealing with when you're not around.

I'm in awe of how long and how well that young woman kept her hand on the fire.
posted by Mooski at 11:51 AM on June 20, 2012 [6 favorites]


This hurt my heart so much. I have nothing but admiration for Sam, trying so hard to hold her family together by sheer force of will. MS is a horrible disease, and her Mom's accident surely didn't help.

I know a number of folks with MS, from fairly mild relapsing-remitting to dog-awful primary-progressive (this poor dude is only 26!), and it just breaks my heart to see the havoc this disease wreaks. I'm riding in a 100 mile charity event for the National MS Society this weekend, acutely aware that the folks I'm riding for often can't walk across the room, let alone ride a bike, and now painfully reminded that some of them have caregivers who've been forced to grow up too soon.
posted by MissySedai at 1:19 PM on June 20, 2012


I might be older and my mother might not be as ill as her's.. but this is exactly what it feels like to be the caretaker of your parent at a younger age.

She mentions that people normally get 50-60 years to get use to this. I had 16 before I was actively helping my mother take care of my grandparents and now I take care of my mother.

You miss out on a lot and you're forced to grow up quickly. Sometimes you're resentful. Sometimes you just want to run away.

It's extremely scary watching your mother grow more fragile by the years and know that it will reach an inevitable conclusion much sooner then you ever expected.

This woman, and all young caretakers of ill parents, deserve hugs.
posted by royalsong at 2:01 PM on June 20, 2012 [1 favorite]


Sad, sad, sad.

What Sam and her mother needed were adults who cared, friends or family...

How about a society that gives a fuck all about kids and families?
posted by BlueHorse at 5:27 PM on June 20, 2012 [2 favorites]


Wow. That was really powerful. She is a really good writer, too.
posted by onlyconnect at 6:44 PM on June 20, 2012


But it sounds like it was made a lot shittier by the author's childhood refusal to accept the help that was offered. Social services may not be awesome, but they're there, and it's hard for me to see how they could have done anything but make this situation better

In a lot of minority communities in the United States, accepting help means admitting weakness, inadequacy, and defeat. You spend so much of your life trying to prove yourself as legitimate, that anything other than straight up self-sufficiency means you've lost all face - even if accepting a hand may make things better, there's always a trade-off that includes some level of admitting failure.
posted by raztaj at 7:26 PM on June 20, 2012


This is my version of a horror story right here. And as a childfree, permanently single person whose only relative that really gives a shit about her is her mom, I do think things along the lines of "I hope I'm able to kill myself if something like this happens to me, because NOBODY is gonna be there."

And when your best option in the world is that a 9-year-old be a full time caregiver...our world is fucked. Nursing homes and foster homes are indeed awful, but shit, where the hell else can you go when you can't take care of yourself either?
posted by jenfullmoon at 10:04 PM on June 20, 2012


Kids are dumb. This is not meant as an attack on kids, but a nine year old just isn't equipped to understand that yes, putting her mother into long-term care and yes, entering the foster system, are probably the best options.

Kids aren't dumb. Naive is not the same thing as dumb. Adults aren't smarter than children, they're just more experienced. Which is how I can say that experience only superficially resembles smarts.
posted by desuetude at 10:54 PM on June 20, 2012 [1 favorite]


That was a horrifying story. Just, awful. There was no good outcome possible and it breaks my heart that she seems to think she could have made one happen if she'd only done something differently. At NINE.

But I'm confused about something. If the samantha of the blog people keep linking to above is the same person, why is she talking in this post about things her father said to her "in fourth grade" and saying, "my father, who cut my meat for me until I was sixteen years old."? I don't think it can be the same blogger.
posted by lollusc at 3:52 AM on June 21, 2012


The blog read like it was written by a completely different person to me.
posted by thinkpiece at 4:13 AM on June 21, 2012


I started to wonder if this was fiction based on the inconsistencies and the unimaginable horror. Maybe I just don't want to believe this can happen.
posted by desjardins at 6:18 AM on June 21, 2012


This is a masterfully written story, powerful in its choice of words and imagery. I hope Samantha Ivry will publish in traditional media/publishing outlets in order for her to gain the world stage recognition she deserves. Powerful and genius, I hope she

lollusc, thinkpiece - both the blog and this autobiographic piece are written by the same person. Both are true to fact retellings of Sam's life. The writer masterfully focuses our attention on different details. (If you closely read the the autobiographic piece again, Sam's father dies 6 months before her mother, when the author was about 17.)
posted by ruelle at 7:26 AM on June 21, 2012 [1 favorite]


Addenums:

1) Powerful and genius. *Period.

2) lollusc, thinkpiece *and desjardins*
posted by ruelle at 7:30 AM on June 21, 2012


.
posted by jann at 9:57 AM on June 22, 2012


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