Elise Pannemann: Covid life was already challenging, then mom got hurt


For the last year and a half, in this age of Covid-19, I have had to maintain a balance between keeping up my mental health and keeping up my grades.

My house, which once was my safe space where I decompressed after a long and hard day, also became my school.  It transformed into the only place where my schoolwork was done.

And for a while, I was successfully able to keep up this need to compartmentalize my normal and school lives.

This semester was even starting to feel normal, with most classes being offered in person.

However, that changed quickly.

Back in summer 2018, while helping my younger sister’s old swim club, my mother was running down a flight of concrete steps when she hyper-extended her leg and injured her knee.

At the time, she believed that it was a minor injury that would go away.

For awhile, it did.

Unfortunately, the wound resurfaced last month.

My mother is now attending physical therapy every Monday and Wednesday.

The physical therapy has been doing wonders for her.

“I have not felt this good since June of 2018,” she said.

Though the physical therapy has been working, my mother is not nearly in tip-top shape.

While my mother is nursing her leg, someone must do the work around the house.

On top of my finishing my senior year of college, I have been picking up the work that my mother would normally be doing around the house.

Cooking, cleaning, caring for the pets – these are tasks I would normally help with when I had the time.

But with my mother having trouble getting around the house, the tasks have fallen squarely on my shoulders.

This has really been a learning experience for me.

I have never before been in a caregiving position like this.

I have worked with children before, babysitting and serving as a camp counselor. But that was for only several hours per day.

But caring for my mother and father and my cat and dog is full time.

I find myself in a position where I have become a full-time caregiver to my parents while also having to be a fulltime student.

And I have never felt closer to my mother.

When I was growing up, my mother worked fulltime and had to care for my father and raise my sister and me.

Though I have always admired my mother for the hard work she does, I was never quite aware of how difficult it would be to keep house, cook meals several times a day and be responsible for the wellbeing of multiple loved ones.

I am grateful for this opportunity to repay my mother for all those years she took care of me.

Now it is my turn to care for her.