By the time most people are in their 40’s, they are in that phase of life where they are being pulled in different directions. I find myself in this in between part of life. It’s the phase of life when your kids need to be taken care of, the house needs to be cared for, you may or may not be working outside of the home, and you are taking care of aging parents. It’s not easy for sure, but you still have to do what needs to be done.
I watched my parents aging, but still fiercely independent for several years. My parents were the lucky ones who needed nothing from us but love, phone calls and visits. I happen to live just a few houses away from the house I grew up in which meant that if something was needed, I was just a phone call away. Over the last 6 months, however, the independent life my parents once knew has been altered forever.
My wonderful, vivacious, energetic, healthy mother had a hemorrhagic stroke while she and my dad were visiting a friend at a nursing home. Mom never came home again. I write a great deal about my mom because she was such a great force in my life and she and I were always very close. Most of the poetry I write these days centers around her, too.
Since my beautiful mother passed away, my dad’s life has gone through unexpected challenges as well. He was always independent and never relied on anyone but mom for anything. The only problem was his eyesight. He relied on mom to chauffeur him to this place and that, and the two of them always had a great life together. In fact, I’ve always said that if a person wanted to see what true love was all about, just look at my parents. With mom gone, dad had no way of getting out of the house and going to the places he liked going. He needed someone to be his “good eyes”.
With 4 kids, life gets hectic all by itself. My oldest kids can drive, but the younger 2 still need to be carted around. My son is very busy with his hockey at the moment, but soon it will be hockey, baseball and soccer. He lives to play his sports and at nearly 9, we have a way to go before he can drive himself. We also like being involved in activities with the kids, so that takes up time too.
I’ve been off work since mom was hospitalized and it has helped me tremendously in many ways, but still, the role of caretaker always lingers. I now have the role of being dad’s chauffeur. Dad is a congenial, soft-spoken gentleman with a sharp wit when you get him going, but for the most part, he doesn’t say too much. He is doing really well with coping, too. He accepts that things are as they should be. His faith in God is immeasurable. He is the most faith-filled man I have ever known. He cooks for himself and can take care of the house, for the most part. He does, however, need to be taken to a great deal of doctor’s appointments, the grocery store, church, the library, etc. Where ever he wants to go, we take him.
It’s so hard at times to know what comes first. When dad wants something, we just jump right to it. It’s so hard because we often find that we are in the middle of something, but we are expected to drop whatever that may be and hop to it. I’m learning to balance this new role, but oh, it’s a tough one. I’m daddy’s little girl and will always be that in his eyes, but I’m also a wife and mother.
When I return to work, the only thing I know is that I won’t be able to work so many hours. There simply is no way I can manage anything else on my already, overfilled plate! At least at this point I’ve been fortunate to have the help of my older 2 girls, but come next fall, both girls will be in college and everything will be left up to me again. I don’t know yet how to organize life to work through it all, but I know that somehow, by the grace of God, we will manage to take care of everyone.
I’ve always been the caretaker in my family. From the time I was a little girl I have been taking care of someone or something. I struggle with wondering about “what if something happens to me” scenarios all the time. Would my husband have to take my place? It’s certainly not that he couldn’t. He’s great and he takes care of me as well as the kids, but if it wouldn’t fall to him, then would my role fall to my daughters?
I try to take care of myself but I find myself exhausted by thinking sometimes. Perhaps it’s just the stage in life that I’m in, but while being stuck in between can be daunting, it can also be enlightening and freeing. You finally get to that point of life where you just don’t care what others think. You can finally be you, maybe for the first time ever! Life certainly has some strange ways in leading you from one stage to the other, but even with the death of my mom and continuing to watch my once fiercely independent dad need more assistance, I think I’m going to like it here.
I don’t plan on going through anymore crisis that aren’t necessary. I see no fancy cars or fur coats in my future. I will just continue to do my best and hope for the best. What more in life is there anyway? You are born, you pay taxes and you die. If you’re lucky, you get to have some great adventures along the way. I plan on taking things one day at a time and just live everyday as though it’s my last. We aren’t guaranteed another day, or even another moment, so make the best of what you’ve got even when you’re stuck in between.