It’s been a while

I haven’t written much lately. A lack of time is partially to blame. Being caregiver to Mom means that one day  often runs into the next. If I didn’t have to work, it would be so much easier. But I like working! Plus, having an income is nice.

Also, we may have bit off more than we can chew by deciding to build an addition on the house this summer. Thankfully Jack is managing that pretty well on his own. He checks in with me when he knows I’ll want to have a say in some aspect, but otherwise is moving the project along without me for now. I’ll get more involved when it’s time for flooring, paint and furniture.

I frequently find myself wondering where my life has gone. Then I remember my friend from high school, the one whose dad suffers from Alzheimer’s and lives with her. Her Faceb00k posts tell stories of sleepless nights, constant worries for his safety, the exasperation of trying to have reasonable conversations, and the sheer loneliness of being an only child with such an ill parent. I try to remember that I have it so much easier, that I actually have other people to help out now and then, and that I should stop feeling sorry for myself.

Still, I do feel sorry for myself, which is the other reason I haven’t written much lately. I can hardly stand to be around myself and I’m not fond of this version of me. I hear the words coming out of my mouth at times when it’s safe to just let loose, and I wonder how I slipped into such a bitter place. I cry too easily lately and hate that I feel like such a wuss at times.

It’s dark inside my head too much these days, and I’m embarrassed to share that. I hate feeling sorry for myself, but feel so helpless to fight it. I’m angry a lot, which I would also prefer not to be, but can’t seem to let go of it. I feel abandoned by my siblings. I don’t hear from any of them or see them much at all. And that’s fine. I  guess I can live without them. But Mom can’t. She misses them and I hate knowing that. She might hear from them periodically, but some of their visits with her are rare and  often all too brief.

I want to scream at them sometimes, tell them that Mom needs them and remind them that I’m the one who’s there almost every single day. I want to ask them how it’s fair that they don’t have to plan their days around Mom’s needs. I want them to realize that I’m the one who will be there when no one else is. I’m the one who takes time off work to take her to all of her doctor appointments. I’m the one who makes sure she has a hot meal each day, takes out the trash, changes the bedding, walks the dog, picks up the dog sh*t, fixes the computer, brings in the mail, waters the plants and a host of other things that Mom used to easily manage but can no longer handle on her own.

I’VE BECOME A WHEEL WATCHER for crying out loud! And deep down, gladly so. Mom loves her Wheel of Fortune.

The hardest part is that I feel like I’m the only one seeing her slowly slip away, day by day. And there’s no one to lean on while I worry that Mom isn’t safe in her house and wonder how much time we have left together. I see my siblings’ Faceb00k posts and feel resentment. I see them out with friends, on vacation, proudly displaying the results of hobbies they have time to pursue. I haven’t read a book in forever. My camera is literally gathering dust. I can count on one hand the number of times I’ve spent time with friends this summer.

Once in awhile, a little light seeps in and I feel a little bit more like my old self. That’s happened this week and it’s a relief.

Perspective. Everyone has a back story. We don’t always know what it is. My siblings have back stories and I guess I have a small sense of each one of them. I need to remind myself that I don’t really know what it’s like to be in their shoes.

It’s my privilege to be the one whose life allows me to be there for Mom. She’s appreciative  and she never fails to tell me so. And the reality is that at least once a week, one of them, usually my sister, takes a turn and gives me a night off. I rarely know until the last minute when that might be, but I’ll take what I can get.

Clarity. All I can often see is what things look like to me. I imagine my siblings breezing through their lives without a thought as to Mom’s well-being, without any sense of sharing in her care. In my heart, I know that’s not really the way it is. Still doesn’t make it any easier that on a daily basis, I feel like I’m the one who has to carry the weight. But I know that Faceb00k tends to showcase only what others want us to see. It’s not the whole picture. My brothers and sister are struggling, just like me, but with other issues. I feel sorry for some of them. I know I’m  probably the lucky one.

A break in routine helps, and that’s come this week. I’m going away for a few days. Leaving the state. Getting out of this house and away from the office. I’m going to see my best friend. By all accounts, cancer is going to take her away from us long before her family or I could ever have imagined. It was suggested that I make this visit before it’s too late. It’s been a tough journey for her, and hope seems to be drifting away. But not if I have anything to say about it. I am praying daily for her. I am praying fiercely for her. Every once in awhile, there are signs of hope. Maybe I’m just seeing what I want to see, but I can’t and won’t give up on her.

I’ll cut myself a little slack, because I don’t think anyone would argue that watching your mom and your best friend hang in the balance at the same time is a lot to ask of anyone.

I ‘ve worried about being away from Mom for four whole days. I pondered reaching out to my siblings while at the same time feeling bitter that I would even have to ask them to look in on her. But by some miracle, things are falling into place and it seems there will be someone to look in on Mom each day while I’m away. It occurs to me how arrogant it was to think that Mom couldn’t survive without me for a handful of days. How prideful of me it was to struggle with the thought of reaching out for help for my mom’s sake.

I’m hoping this break shakes me up a little bit and helps me to keep my head in a higher place. I’m better than this person I’ve allowed myself to become. I am so blessed. I’m stronger than I think I am sometimes. And I need to remember it.


9 thoughts on “It’s been a while

  1. Every one I know who has been through this process – of being the one child who seems to have to carry the burden – including myself, feels this way. For whatever reason we are given this burden/blessing/job/fate because we are deemed to have what it takes to deal with it. Until it is all over, it is what it is. I wish I could give you a hug and tell you something that would make you feel better.


  2. I was just thinking of you and wondering how you were doing. Your plate is full, my dear. Have you ever hugged yourself? At night, as you climb into bed, rap your arms around yourself and tell yourself everything will be okay. Whisper, Divine order.

    I saw a meme on facebook today of an empty cup and it said, “Remember to take care of yourself. You can’t pour from an empty cup.”

    I have something funny I’m going to email you, too. You also need a laugh break once in a while.


  3. Tee, this one could’ve been written by me. I share so many of these conflicted emotions — from gratitude that I *can* help my mom, to fear that I’m doing it all wrong, to anger and resentment that I’m having to do it alone. Sure, my only sis is miles away, but you’d think she at least could sympathize over the phone…or express sincere gratitude that I’m doing what she won’t. No, she’d toss mom in a home and promptly forget about her, something I can’t do. At least we can face ourselves in the mirror, right, and know we have nothing to feel guilty over. Care-giving isn’t something that was modeled for me (my own parents didn’t care for *their* folks), but God gives us the strength and wherewithal to do what’s right. What’s honorable. And after all, would we ever trade our “cross” for somebody else’s?? Hang in there, my friend, and don’t forget to take time for Tee!


  4. Well welcome back! (Like I can talk.)
    You are one busy girl. I wish your siblings would help out more. I wonder if they back off because they know you’re on top of it. As you mentioned, they miraculously found some time while you’re out of town to help out. Maybe you just need to “be out of town” every once in a while. So what if you have to ask them? At least you get some well deserved relief.
    Anyway, I sure hope your visit with your friend goes well. I can not imagine going through that. Makes our troubles seem so meaningless.
    Take care Tee. I’ll be thinkin’ of ya.


  5. Hi, dropping in to catch up again.

    Hm, I know exactly how you feel, we were in that situation for some years, just kept on doing the right thing. Exhausting, disheartening at times, but worth it in the long term.


  6. Seems like we have all been away for a while dealing with life.

    I totally understand your angst/feelings. We’ve gone down the same path with my wife’s parents and sister. The frustration, anger, sadness all take a toll, both physically and mentally. Even though it seems overwhelming right now, these are the moments you cannot get back and you will not regret the time and love you have given to your mom. I am glad to hear you are able to take time to see your friend. Hopefully, the rest of the family can pick up the slack while you are out with your friend. I hope the trip out west to see your friend goes well and you are able to catch up. Time is way too short not to spend it with the ones you love. Take care, Tee.


  7. 🙂 I can say i read your article and understand it.
    I cannot say i feel everything.
    I am that type of individual you would have no idea how to categorize. I am way aloft from my siblings, not because i don’t love them, just because i like being by myself.
    My mom and older relatives kept asking when am i going to remarry… and i had to smile politely with my heart screamed murder at this breach of privacy.
    I love my mom 🙂
    And good luck with the renovation.


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