Today I reached out and poked Pat’s leg. Why? To see if she was accumulating excess fluid in her body. Unfortunately, I forgot to ask permission. Big mistake! Typical, though, of a helicopter husband.
You probably have heard of helicopter parents. They hover around their kids, over-protecting them from all the terrors they imagine: not looking good, being abducted by aliens, too much You Tube/Facebook/, dressing incorrectly for the cold. No kid likes a helicopter parent.
Sometimes I think I may be a helicopter husband. I’d like to say I have a few helicopter husband traits, but Pat would say I’m understating the truth. So, what does a helicopter husband do? He worries, worries, worries about what calamities might overtake his wife, not necessarily weighing the likelihood of these tragedies occurring. Will Pat slip on that piece of paper over there on the floor? Maybe. Better get it picked up right now. Will she get lost in the store? Well, it’s happened before so it could happen now. Better keep an eye on her – better keep both eyes on her.
Will Pat take her medicines on time? “Probably, but so what if it’s a couple hours late? It won’t kill her.” Come on, that’s not what I think. It’s more like “I know she’ll forget and then she’ll have a heart attack and it will be all my fault for not reminding her (several times if need be) to take them”. Helicopter husbands assume the worst.
Now, in my defense, Pat has always been a little careless around survival concerns. She forgets to take her coat in the winter, much less wear it. Good dietary habits are not a large part of her culinary repertoire. Getting lost has been a good thing much of her life, as in “Oh, I got lost driving around but that’s the fun of it.” Also, in my defense, we are facing life and death matters every day with LB disorder. Thirdly, this whole LB thing is like living every day as if it were Halloween, waiting for the next scary creature to jump out of the woodwork. Finally, I think my children would like me to be more of a helicopter husband than I am, believing I don’t keep their mother as safe as they would. (Beware the helicopter adult child).
Nevertheless, helicoptering is not really a good thing to do. Pat gets angry with me when I am too “thoughtful.” She feels distrusted, enveloped, smothered, and disrespected. I then back off, or at least I try to back off, thinking that I could quit helicoptering if only Pat would be more careful. If only Pat would think ahead. If only she would be like me. But Pat refuses to quit being Pat, Lewy Body or no Lewy Body. She keeps demanding autonomy. She needs more space.
OK. I’ll just say the Serenity Prayer and let go. Sure, I will. Or not. Or for a while but not long enough. The reality is that I try not to intrude and to remind myself that Pat is still mostly able to take care of herself. But mostly is a very fuzzy word. Will the next event be the one I should intervene upon? Could just letting Pat be Pat result in a terrible fall? Every situation is unique. There is no final resolution to the helicoptering issue.
Helicopter husbanding from Pat’s perspective.
[Pat to Ron] “You make me feel like I can’t do anything when you get worried and try to stop me from doing things. It’s like you’ve given up on me.”
Pat’s perspectives: on the helicopter husband. He’s always worried about something and at the same time trying to get everything done. He keeps a close eye on me, and on anything I may do that would worry him. He reminds me and reminds me to take my meds, even if I have already taken many of them already, and just need more water to finish them up.
Ron works his heart out doing everything he can possibly get done, and then more. He also attempts to keep rounding me up to pick up and sort things I can’t quite master as quickly as he would, and the habits I have had way too long to change so quickly to choose in the ways he does.
Part of his helicoptering is that he has lost his patience with me because I’m so different from him. Change comes slowly for me, whereas he gets his ideas all arranged in his head and does ideas on how and what I ought to do, or how I ought to change things to be more like him.
At the same time I see his worry and concern and love for me, and his deep caring.
I also see, some days, lists of things to do poking out of his head. And at the same time, I see him thinking ahead of me, or looking behind at me to see what he’s missed or what, just in case, I’ve already lost track of since he just looked…AND he can put into my hand as I wander off.
I wouldn’t be upset if he trusted me more. All said, I love him much.
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