For anyone that mistakenly believes I have my shit together even part of the time lately, just because I can sit and reflect upon events and write about them in a calm and orderly fashion – I apologize if I have misled you. Calm and orderly is not a reflection of my life presently.
The truth is, lately I have felt like I’m drowning. I’m behind on laundry – so much so that I’m throwing in loads at 5:15 in the morning on a Saturday just so the kids have something clean to wear. I have taken care of some of the Christmas decorations which came down on New Year’s Day. The cellar looks like a hurricane swept through due to my frantic, time-constrained search for what was put up for decorations this year, and boxes and totes lay all akimbo down there, mocking me and my Virgo nature that practically cries out for order and organization.
I haven’t yet succumbed to making boxed mac and cheese every night for the kids for dinner. I’ve fallen in love all over again with my crock pot, as I can take five minutes and throw in the makings of a dinner before leaving for Mom’s place, turn the thing on, and forget about it until it’s time to eat. I’ve become accustomed to three minute showers and gulping down one cup of coffee to at least keep from committing homicide in the morning and find myself wishing the dog peed faster so I could finish up that task and get on to the next one. Taking care of a house, two kids, and most recently my Mom has gotten to be three full-time jobs now….let alone taking care of myself.
I have, from the beginning of her living here, been trying to get her to socialize a bit more, to meet new friends, to find distractions and activities. She has made one friend who chats with her at least four of seven days of the week, and has been to visit at Mom’s apartment a couple of times. Other than that…I’m her entertainment, her housekeeper, her personal shopper, her medical appointment transport, frequent lunch companion, sounding board, etc., etc., etc. – Mom all but refuses to do anything unless I’m doing it with her.
I suppose I should insert a disclaimer here – I’m not saying I don’t wish to spend time with her. I’m saying that while I’m devoting time to that, everything else in my life is pretty much going to hell. My house is a mess (which causes me anxiety – I’m not spotless, but chaos is difficult for me), my laundry is piling up day in and day out – one of the boys is upset with their grandmother because I’m with her so much (taking me away from him) – and a whole host of other things that are falling down around my ears because I’m doing so much with/for Mom right now. I don’t resent it, I wanted her here. It would be worse if she were still two hours away with her two recent trips to the hospital. But I also don’t want to let everything else slide in the process, least of all my duties as a parent to be there with and for the boys.
So what do you do when your 83 year old mother who, less than sixty days ago, moved out of the house she was in for 48 years, all but refuses to socialize on her own no matter what you try to do to help her along, and at the same time you see your child hurting for and wanting your attention and know that while they ‘understand’ that you are with Grammy because she needs you…they need you too….and you aren’t there….that’s pretty much all that remains with them.
You get up at 5 in the morning to do laundry. You tell Mom you have to take a day off for some one on one time with your child. You leave the events of that day up to them, and go with the flow, and let them be your guide. You see the look of fear and disappointment in your mother’s eyes that you are telling her she won’t be going out the next day or have a visitor (unless she does something about it herself), and know that unless you follow this course, no matter how you hate to see that look in her eyes, she’ll never, ever do anything different unless confronted with a stark dose of reality hitting her right between the eyes. You see the sparkle in your child’s eyes when you set up your ‘one on one’ date with them and know that that one day, since you didn’t put it off and will honor even if you are bleeding out your eyeballs the whole time, will make a huge, huge difference in the child’s feelings about all the time you have to devote to his grandmother. You spend time with Mom the day before and consult with her visiting nurse so that you are up to date on what is going on medically, and have to send regrets to your cousin who put you on a very short guest list to her post-elopement reception even though you were likely going to get to see family that lives thousands of miles away and were so looking forward to attending. You have lunch with your other child as well, one on one, so that he doesn’t feel left out, even if you took him to his first Bruins game just a couple of weeks ago and had an incredible one on one night that hopefully he (and definitely you) will never forget.
What else do you do? You pick up things as you go along and don’t try to do it all. You decide, as much as it pains your Virgo nature, that some things really don’t matter in the grand scheme of things, like the unfolded blanket hanging off the couch that one of the boys left; or the plastic tote of Christmas decorations in the guest room that will likely sit there another week until you hoist them up and take them to the basement. You completely ignore the basement and decide that if anyone asks, a hurricane DID come through, and fortunately the upper levels of the house were ‘mostly’ spared, and you’re waiting on the insurance adjuster to come assess the damage before you try to clean up.
You decide what tv shows you REALLY can’t live without, and cut back to three hours a week of programming at the maximum. You read because it helps you escape the reality of every day life at least for a little while. You blog, because writing is almost as important to your soul as reading is to your mind and sleep is to your body, and you know that to nourish all three: Mind, body, and soul, is vital to your well being. You recall the words of a wise person that if you don’t take care of yourself you can’t take care of anyone else, and you jump back into the water day in and day out and take a few mouthfuls as you go down and rise again. You accept that you can’t do it all – and you’re only setting yourself up for defeat if you try.
You learn to tread water…and realize that you have the power to keep yourself from drowning if you just admit you are not able to do everything….and you continue to tread water until you catch the wave that will bring you to the shore where you can take a deep breath and heave a sigh of relief.
Most importantly, you admit you’re human…not SUPERhuman…..and accept your limitations and reset your priorities accordingly…and you realize that in being able to take this step – to recognize that you are not letting anyone down, you are actually doing them all a favor by taking better care of yourself – because you’ll be better at taking care of them.
And what’s more…you’ve saved yourself from drowning already.