From bras, to brakes, to back to school shopping. This was one of those marathon weeks in the life of me, when life became achingly exhausting. Deadlines mounted, a magazine article was due and then back and ready for edits that needed to be done yesterday and then of course brakes on my mini-van needed an unexpected service and eight paid jobs were due and so on and so forth. Oh, and somehow in there I am supposed to squeeze in massive dental restorations and back to school shopping – Huh?!
Anyways the life of a sandwich generation Mom is never dull.
I love my job and my kids, my husband, and my mother too, but they don’t always peacefully coexist or work well together or even get along. And around noon on Wednesday after an already epic few days of working until midnight or 1 a.m. and pushing myself to the limit my mother came knocking on the door. I had an editor waiting and someone expected at the door for a business meeting and I had to tell my mother I had no time to chat because I was working.
I visit my Mom almost every day. Truly. I am writing her cheques and paying her rent and making sure she has money and clothing and preparing her condo for sale and yes, even taking my Mom bra shopping now that it is my job. I check on her medical care, accompany her to doctor’s appointments and occasionally even remind someone they have forgotten to give her the medicine she requires to function. I typically do all this without losing my marbles, for the most part. Stuck in the loop of trying to be a good daughter and yet, really truly here’s the thing: by the time my grandmother was in a retirement home my mother had been retired for a few years already and could pop by easily as needed. We were grown and moved away at university, or married already. My grandmother never lived two blocks away, or in the home of one of her children, and she tried to stay independent as long as humanly possible.
My mom lives about two blocks away from me in a retirement home and until very recently had been experiencing some vertigo, meaning she was dizzy and not walking as much as usual. Then it lifted mysteriously and I went through a two week period of her showing up at my door every day. I don’t mind that she does that, because I know that walking and physical exercise will keep the Alzheimer’s disease from taking over even more aggressively than it already has. So, I invite her in and we chat and visit and have a coffee. Usually.
But I also have a job and two kids who are relatively young still and my work too and I am just a slightly over 40 Mom who would occasionally like a break. I am pretty sure I am not retiring or quitting making money as long as the kids need clothes, the roof needs to be fixed and the furnace and brakes keep requiring servicing or replacement.
The other day my little one said: “Mom, I love grandma but why doesn’t she ever give us a break?”
“Alzheimer’s,” I say.
The other day, Mom appeared out of the blue, in my backyard, startling the life right out of me, then proceeded to tell me that I never visit and I never have time for her and my backyard is a total disaster, as is my house. And then when she went on, even as a flurry of tweets and emails appeared from my editor awaiting my edited article, to tell me: “Paula, if you had any common sense you would know you have to quit working.”
To what exactly? Take care of her full time?
Well I had enough and I calmly agreed with her:
“Yes, my house is a mess, my yard is a disaster, I am working a lot and I just do not have time to take a break right now. You are right I never come to see you or do anything for you.”
If I had been less exhausted I might have said it kinder, with a hint of I am sorry I am too busy to chat right now, but I am working. I realize you want to go shopping, or hang out and watch Ellen, but I have to finish this article. Then I will have a moment to take you for coffee.
It is a terrible disease _Alzheimer’s_ for what it takes from all of us, not just the one with the diagnosis.
By the morning of the day after this exchange, she might have forgotten entirely about it. I wish I could.
There are a few resources on the Internet for people who are seeking retirement advice, retirement home information, or for those making health care choices for their parents. One of my favorite resources is http://www.comfortlife.ca
I was not compensated to post this. I just felt like venting.