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Vieraskieliset / In-english

Blog: My place in the world

Vieraskieliset / In-english
14.4.2020 6.10

Juttua muokattu:

27.3. 16:16

“Mum­my, you are here for me. You are here for all of us who are dear to you”. The words spo­ken by our three-ye­ar-old make me pau­se with a warm fee­ling in my he­art. “Yes, I am here for you”, I say. “For eve­ry one of you who are dear to me”.

I dis­cus­sed with my hus­band how much I should share about our fa­mi­ly’s life in my new blog. Our life has not been an ave­ra­ge sort of life. Three ye­ars ago I cal­cu­la­ted that, over the pre­ce­ding ten ye­ars, our fa­mi­ly mem­bers had been in hos­pi­tal for a to­tal time of about two and a half ye­ars. The in­pa­tient days af­ter that have ad­ded up to se­ve­ral months more. At the worst time, three mem­bers of our fa­mi­ly were in dif­fe­rent hos­pi­tal wards in two dif­fe­rent ci­ties.

I star­ted wor­king when I was 16, sor­ting mail along­si­de my stu­dies. Just be­fo­re my se­cond ma­ter­ni­ty le­a­ve I gra­du­a­ted with ho­nors from a com­mer­ci­al ins­ti­tu­te. There was not­hing to pre­dict that, for the next 15 ye­ars, I would on­ly have odd jobs for a few months at a time and no full-time emp­lo­y­ment.

Whe­ne­ver pos­sib­le, I grab­bed at the chan­ce. I wal­ked in­to an in­te­res­ting firm to ask if they would take me for the mi­ni­mum pay. I wan­ted to hang on to my mem­bers­hip of so­cie­ty, even with the rest­ric­ti­ons im­po­sed by my own he­alth prob­lems and those of our child­ren, es­pe­ci­al­ly the spe­ci­al needs of our ol­dest child.

I on­ce cal­led a city of­fi­ci­al to say that I had found a job with pro­per pay. I al­so told him I had ap­p­lied to a nur­sing prog­ram. He did not ap­p­re­ci­a­te that as a good thing, be­cau­se they could not pro­vi­de day care for our ol­dest child. I per­sis­ted in my plans, and we had a care wor­ker in our home for the sum­mer. I star­ted my nur­sing prog­ram in the fall, but had to drop out a few weeks la­ter, be­cau­se there was no af­ter­noon care avai­lab­le for our spe­ci­al-needs child. I sta­yed at home. There was no al­ter­na­ti­ve.

Our ol­dest child li­ved for less than twel­ve ye­ars, spen­ding al­most all of his last ye­ar in dif­fe­rent hos­pi­tals.

Be­fo­re that fi­nal ye­ar I had been his un­paid ca­re­gi­ver. Even while the child was in ins­ti­tu­ti­o­nal care, I fought for his right to good care. His last few months were ea­sier, and I could fi­nal­ly bre­at­he a sigh of re­lief. But then, wit­hout any war­ning, came the grief of his de­ath. It was as if we had been he­a­ring a rumb­ling thun­ders­torm gra­du­al­ly going away, but were still struck by the last de­vas­ta­ting light­ning.

Grief was mi­xed with re­lief, ho­we­ver. We no lon­ger nee­ded to wor­ry about this child, kno­wing that he was sa­fe­ly in he­a­ven. Our life see­med cal­mer for a while. We even had a lo­ve­ly glim­mer of hope, as there was a new baby on the way. But be­fo­re the first third of my preg­nan­cy was over, I was on sick le­a­ve again. I had to stay in bed for 22 weeks, and I woke up eve­ry mor­ning hap­py to know that the baby was still safe in­si­de me.

Af­ter the birth of the baby, the phy­si­cal prob­lems of our child­ren and the trau­ma­tic me­mo­ries of our ol­dest child’s life be­gan to take their toll. Af­ter anot­her dif­fi­cult preg­nan­cy, we had our third tiny pre­ma­tu­re baby. I got used to ha­ving a ca­len­dar boo­ked full with me­di­cal ap­point­ments and mee­tings. By the end of March last ye­ar, we had had about 90 dif­fe­rent ap­point­ments, 7-10 per week. I was on fa­mi­ly le­a­ve and sta­yed home even af­ter that. I was al­so an un­paid ca­re­gi­ver for our two school-aged child­ren, who sel­dom were at school for a full day. My hus­band was the sole bre­ad­win­ner.

I read po­li­ti­ci­ans’ opi­ni­ons on how to make stay-at-home mot­hers ap­p­ly for jobs, and how the long-term unemp­lo­yed are not even in­te­res­ted in wor­king and need to be ac­ti­va­ted and ur­ged to find emp­lo­y­ment. I be­gan to feel bit­ter. I knew how things were in re­a­li­ty, but sta­tis­ti­cal­ly, I had al­wa­ys be­lon­ged to eit­her or both of those ma­lig­ned groups. I knew that there are ga­ping ho­les in so­cie­ty’s sa­fe­ty net­works and that of­fi­ci­als do not al­wa­ys treat pe­op­le fair­ly, be­cau­se bu­re­auc­ra­cy is neit­her fle­xib­le, nor adap­tab­le to ex­cep­ti­o­nal si­tu­a­ti­ons.

While doing the hou­se­hold cho­res, dri­ving, or en­jo­ying the rare op­por­tu­ni­ty to go for a walk, I of­ten lis­te­ned to a ra­dio voi­ce spe­a­king about life in a fas­ci­na­ting, me­an­de­ring mo­no­lo­gue. I knew the spe­a­ker was my po­lar op­po­si­te: a he­alt­hy and we­alt­hy male who could ea­si­ly make him­self he­ard. It see­med we had not­hing in com­mon, and even our views of life were dif­fe­rent. But still so­met­hing hap­pe­ned: very gra­du­al­ly that man hel­ped me re­vi­ve my self-es­teem. Each epi­so­de see­med to con­tain a sen­ten­ce ad­d­res­sed di­rect­ly at me. He see­med to ap­p­re­ci­a­te the va­lue of the work I was doing at home, to speak on my be­half – and al­wa­ys give me a small push for­ward.

I re­a­li­zed I had stra­yed on to a long road of vic­ti­mi­za­ti­on, which would not take me to­ward par­ti­ci­pa­ti­on but rat­her to­ward mar­gi­na­li­za­ti­on. I see­med to re-dis­co­ver my ta­lents and re­a­li­zed that I could use them even now. I could do things that would help me find my nic­he in so­cie­ty. I took my lap­top whe­ne­ver I had a free mo­ment and be­gan to write, even if I had not been as­ked to write a small poem or song or so­met­hing. I de­fi­ned go­als for my­self and be­gan to work to at­tain them. I most­ly did t in the night­ti­me when the hou­se was qui­et, but it did not seem to make me ti­red. Rat­her on the cont­ra­ry, I was hap­pier, bet­ter ab­le to en­joy my child­ren, more or­ga­ni­zed. I kept the hou­se ti­dier and found my dai­ly life ea­sier than pre­vi­ous­ly.

I had ne­ver li­ked the word em­po­wer­ment. Now I was per­so­nal­ly ex­pe­rien­cing em­po­wer­ment. I was sud­den­ly my­self, not just a mot­her and a fa­mi­ly ca­re­gi­ver.¬ I no lon­ger found it ti­ring that I was nee­ded all the time. I had held my head high and ap­p­re­ci­a­ted the va­lue and me­a­ning of my work, but I had al­lo­wed the pub­lic dis­cus­si­on sow seeds of doubt in my mind. That had re­sul­ted in a con­su­ming fee­ling of em­bit­ter­ment. I had of­ten felt that even the He­a­ven­ly Fat­her see­med deaf and blind to our fa­mi­ly’s prob­lems.

Now I am wri­ting, we­a­ving my thoughts in­to sto­ries, em­bol­de­ned to try. This blog is one out­co­me of this pro­cess. I have de­ci­ded to try how well my wings car­ry me, and whet­her I can make my child­hood dre­ams come true. And yet, the first sen­ten­ce of this text is al­so still true. I am here for my lit­t­le three-ye­ar-old and my whole fa­mi­ly. And I know that the He­a­ven­ly Fat­her has not for­got­ten me. He has gi­ven me abun­dant re­sour­ces for this en­de­a­vor.

Text: Pau­la-Maa­ria Itä­nie­mi

Trans­la­ti­on: Sirk­ka-Lii­sa Lei­no­nen

You will find the ori­gi­nal blog post here.


Kiit­tä­kää Her­raa, huu­ta­kaa avuk­si hä­nen ni­me­ään, ker­to­kaa kan­soil­le hä­nen suu­ris­ta te­ois­taan! Ps. 105:1

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