Life with my mom
Staring at a blank piece of paper (ahem,blank page on the computer screen in this case) can be somewhat intimidating, especially if one is just committed to writing a little every day. Generally, I am not interested in doing a whole lot of research; I tend to want to write about what I know or perhaps better said, what I think I know. It could be about a book I've read, or something I saw on TV or an incident in my day that caused me to pause.
On the days when I am home all day with my mom, there might not be much that will spark my imagination. And on top of that, if the day is all gray and dreary, it becomes all the more difficult. These are the days of laundry, tidying up, becoming engrossed with stuff on the internet or cooking shows on TV; some of this done with the idea of conversation starters with my mom.
She is going to be 87 next month. My mother was an impressively independent woman. After my dad died, she was determined to live on her own and did so. Last March, though, she had a stroke and although it did not do much harm physically,except for making her somewhat unsteady on her feet, it did seem to cut a jagged edge into her thought processes. She couldn't remember my name for a few weeks following this event and forgot everything she knew about her medications, using the computer...yes, she would check on her bank accounts, read e-mails, and order books and her prescription meds, all with what I would consider, pretty amazing savvy for a gal her age. She also could not figure out how to get a meal together or how to turn on the TV and she was calling objects by other names; for instance she would call a phone a clock. My brothers and I determined almost immediately that she could no longer live by herself and it came to pass that she moved in with my darling husband and me. We redid two rooms and greatly modified a bathroom in our house for her so that she would have both a bedroom and sitting room and that way, have some space of her own.
I know that people do this all the time. As a child, my favorite TV show was The Waltons and I thought it was so great that all those generations could live so nicely together. I didn't really expect that it would be easy, but I also didn't realize that it would be so hard. I love my mom. She taught me many things like sewing and cooking and even organizational skills. However, there are a lot of ways I am not like her. I am extremely extroverted. She is not. I love to go and do and she would rather not. I do not like living life on a schedule and she thrives on it. I drink wine, and she does not! Her coming to live at my house was a shock to both of us. More so than either one of us could have anticipated. She told my brother one day that apparently, I do not like the way she does things and she does not like the way I do things so she just stays back in her rooms most of the time. And I worry about that. I can't think of anything worse than not feeling like one is wanted or loved and I couldn't bear for her to feel that way. I know that I take care of her physical needs. I make sure she takes her medicine, help her get a bath, fix her meals and keep her rooms clean and do her laundry and get her to her doctor's appointments. But how do I take care of her emotional needs? Is that up to me as well? She doesn't want to get out in the cold or wet, so she stays home a lot in the Winter, and has done so for the past few years. I offer to take her places, but she doesn't want to go. She has a friend or two that she will do things with occasionally, but there are not many friends left at her age. She cannot hear well so she doesn't talk on the phone much.
Not only am I worried about her, but I worry about me. How do I keep my world from becoming as small and narrow as hers? How do I continue to be a sparkling and lively conversationalist for my darling husband when I am stuck at the house all day and am not experiencing the stuff that comes with working and having lunch with friends and being involved with my church and all the other stuff I used to do? It is just way more complicated now because I don't feel like I can leave her at home very long by herself, due to her medication schedule and the fact that she is unsteady on her feet. Complicated, huh?
I don't feel like I am doing this all alone. My darling husband is right there with me. My three brothers are always ready to listen, to sympathise and even come from significant distances to stay with her so that I can have a break. One of my daughters gives up several hours of her precious Saturdays so that husband and I can go to lunch or just run errands together. My friends are always willing to come to our house or include Mom in invitations to their homes so that I don't have to try to find someone to stay with her. Enough. Tomorrow will bring a more cheerful post.