When My Dad Had a Stroke, I Realized That ‘Balance’ Is Impossible

Wondering aloud why my California-based sister would be calling at 7 a.m. Boston time, my husband picked up his buzzing phone. Something had happened to my dad. A blood clot, brain surgery later that day. The doctor suggested that family members come to the hospital. It wasn’t clear what the outcome of the surgery would be.

On the face of it, deciding where my body belonged that frightening day was obvious and simple. But thanks to inopportune timing, clarity evaporated. When that phone rang, I was living in a hotel in the last weeks of a two-month period of itinerancy between homes. I had commitments to patients in my psychology practice, university research duties, responsibilities to my two young children, and, oh yes, a pregnancy nearing its due date. My partner was also juggling: an itinerant life, children, a tired pregnant wife, and his own demanding job…

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