Magazine article The Exceptional Parent

Work and Family

Magazine article The Exceptional Parent

Work and Family

Article excerpt

"Work and family"--some days, these words just don't seem compatible. I'm a registered nurse who works a 12-hour shift three days a week in a local hospital's busy labor and delivery unit. It is a demanding, stressful job--not unlike my job as the parent of seven-year-old Zachary, who has opsoclonus-myoclonus syndrome, a disorder involving involuntary contractions of skeletal muscles and irregular jerks of the eyes. In my son's case, the disorder was triggered by a neuroblastoma when he was almost three years old. He was left with a number of neurological symptoms including opsoclonus-myoclonus, ataxia and short-term memory deficiencies.

The rewards of nursing are both financial and emotional; it's a thrill every time I hand a new mother or father their newborn baby. The rewards of parenting are many--from seeing Zachary learn to read a new word to successfully helping him find ways to be less disruptive in class.

My husband, Guy, is my loving partner in the daily puzzle of parenting Zachary. Guy works a regular Monday-to-Friday job. On the days I work, Zach attends early morning and after-school daycare. Guy brings him to the daycare center in the morning and picks him up again after work. Then he and Zach cook dinner, play and do homework until I arrive home at 7:30.

Zach is extremely talkative and active. Guy and I must wait to communicate anything important until Zach is asleep. But we never know how long he will sleep. We take turns getting up with him. …

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