I realized as I was helping my family in the face of my mom’s return to the hospital that there will never be a time when I’m not a caregiver and that given my family’s medical woes, I am much more likely to need to drop everything to caregive than many other people. It would be wise to design my life to accommodate this fact, rather than hoping for some imagined time with minimal caregiving responsibilities. Even if I get my own conditions well-managed, even as M. grows and becomes more independent, I will still benefit from the flexibility I need as a parent of a young child and a chronically ill worker.

This is a radical shift in my thinking about the future. I’ll write more about it as I tease out what it means for my planning practices and daily life.