Because the Middle of Week Five (is When Things Begin to Get Challenging). Part 2.

Yesterday’s eye opening mid-morning downdress did not keep me awake, thankfully.  I do feel warned and better prepared to navigate that territory, should I find myself there, again.

While I know, fundamentally, why I’m here – why I up and moved; why 97% of my belongings are in temperature controlled storage; why life is house/work/house and the occasional trip to Food Lion – I’m wrestling with “what”.

Like what contributions am I to make to the household?  (Women generally cook, clean and do laundry but there are other capable people here with me who have been doing these things long prior to my arrival.)  It might need a review or re-balancing, the distribution of tasks.  I’m happy to jump into any of it.  I’m just not sure how or if I should, and to what extent.

Since there is not -and I write this plain and not with the intention of antagonism whatsoever – space to bring my things (books, kitchen inventory, furniture, artwork) – nor am I feeling any urgency to ‘be’ with my things right now, they can keep waiting.  I suspect that once this really feels like home, my/ours rather than his/ours and “I’m new here and adjusting”, my familiar things will slowly find their way.  For now, it’s fine they’re elsewhere.

I miss my girl.  I miss being her mom.

The full force and weight of missing my DD has arrived and there is little I can do but sit with it, as one quietly present in prayer.  I have tried hard to stay busy, focus on positive things, be happy despite our rift but I wish it were her here instead of the months of awful sadness and longing for her.  The confusing and hurtful events of the last nine months have taken a toll and, at times, my capacity for joy has been limited or forced; maybe true for her, too.  I really do not know.  Parent Weekend at her college is in three weeks.  My hotel stay was booked in early July, but I am undecided about going.

Lastly, there is this.  It feels related to all the above in its own way.

A couple days after moving here, my mother was hospitalized for a series of age-related issues. She then entered a rehab facility for physical therapy and, equally important, care and maintenance of her diabetes.  Before this, she had been Type 2.  She is now fully insulin dependant.  After three weeks of medical care, she was released to our father and taken home for a day; they then spent a week away on holiday.  She did “less than satisfactorily,” according to our father, though he would say she’s “fine” in general.  She’s not fine, as far as her children are concerned.

So, how much do adult children interfere with their parent’s right to freedom and independent living?   How little do we say or do?  How much?

Later this week, my sibling, who resides out west, is going to New York to help our folks begin downsizing to, eventually, and hopefully soon, move.  They live in the same house they raised us.  It is too big, too needy, and inappropriate for them now.

Part of me feels a business-like obligation to attempt to help with the process of weeding their belongings to a manageable, meaningful quantity.

Part of me hopes to have the time off to do that.

And part of me is beginning a life I am enjoying (learning to, on some days).  That has not been the case in such a long time, I don’t want to put other things first.  Particularly, I am wary of extending myself to someone who never appreciates it or criticizes what I have to offer, in general.

How to Remain Authentic While Protecting Yourself.  That’s the thing.

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2 Comments Add yours

  1. JRF says:

    Jennifer, thanks for sharing The Hard Stuff so vulnerably. All of that undercurrent is weighty, and just as relevant to your experience as the day-to-day and Good Stuff. It makes sense that these challenges are impinging more – a sign that you’re more settled, I’d guess. I wish I had more time to write a thoughtful response, but I can only muster up a few passing comments (below). What you wrote deserves more.

    Division of labor by traditional gender roles: Nothing helpful to say here, just sharing my own experience. We have fallen into this pattern in my household and it drives me nuts, even though it’s mostly pragmatic and not assumed that it should ever thus be so. I mean, my guy will do almost anything I ask to help out. But I DO have to ask, especially when it comes to cleaning and organizing, and I very deeply wish I didn’t, so I often don’t, which leads to its own set of complications. Also, I LOVE to cook, and I’m a bit picky about what gets prepared and how when we’re home. I’m even pickier at the grocery store (BTW, I highly recommend Kroger over Food Lion!). I’ve scared him out of the kitchen, I’m sure – at least when it comes to cooking for me. He does feed himself when I have other things going on – not my problem that he chooses to eat crap when we have a larder full of healthy ingredients. No worries here about ensuring that minors have nutritional sustenance – I realize that adds another dimension for you. I look forward to hearing about if/how you choose to discuss restructuring.

    DD: I can’t imagine living with that painful hole, with no mutually desired communication, much less resolution, in sight. Your ability to compartmentalize that hurt and longing in order to have a life, the waves of emotion that ebb and flow, and your uncertainty about how and when to reach out all make sense to me. If you choose not to go up for Parent Weekend, or if you’re asked explicitly not to, can you set yourself up with a consolation? I mean, it would be a “legitimate” (for lack of a better word in my haste) occasion to grieve, but can you set yourself up to do something life-affirming as an alternative that weekend, whether it’s spending time with your father or loving friends, or retreating to the nearby mountains alone or with your guy, or seeing a show you didn’t think you could attend – you would know better than I what might be meaningful. If I felt like I had to choose to miss a milestone occasion like that, I wouldn’t want to go on with business as usual that weekend.

    Aging Parents: Those are all tough questions – a thoughtful person’s burden. I wonder if you went to NY this weekend? If you did, I imagine it was to connect with and support your sibling and to give the gift of your time and energy to lighten your father’s load rather than “extending myself to someone who never appreciates it or criticizes what I have to offer, in general” (my understanding is that this person is NOT your sibling or your father). If not, I’m guessing there will be other opportunities to honor what feels like your obligation in a way that feels meaningful to you. As for what to say or not, you have to live with yourself – both what you say and what you withhold. Can you express concerns or make observations without conferring judgment? Can you do that and then let it go if it’s not received well or acted upon?

    I admire how reflective you seem to be about all things and, again, I appreciate that you choose to share your observations, musings, frustrations, etc.

    To be continued . . . though probably not without more prompting.

  2. It’s hard experiencing a child leave home when they have been a big part of your life for so long. There seems to be something missing about why you may not attend the parents weekend but the details may not be signitificant when the conflict is so strong. Have you talked to her, what does she want? Girls seem to be so much more complicated.
    Parents are people too, they want their independence just as you do.. Grant me the power to accept the things I cannot change.

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