I suppose I could say I have not had the best of a couple of months and hence have not written in my blog. I only write my blog when I am driving to write something on a topic but I am also conscious that like any creative activity it also takes discipline, energy a bit of oomph! With so much going on oomph has been in short supply!
I am indeed a very fortunate woman to have grown up with caring loving parents . My father has been dead many years but he remains close in my heart with lovely happy memories. My Mum now in my eighties is my supporter and protector in life particularly when the children were young and I was a single parent doing it alone. My Mum just does unconditional love full stop. No more no less. She helps, she listens , she gives gifts, and her time and all and always unconditionally. She is indeed a wise, kind and wonderful woman.
As Mum gets increasingly older and frail with various ailments including Parkinson’s there has been a gentle shift in our relationship. I realise that I now do not share as much with Mum these days or only share the good bits. More time is spent listening to Mum’s challenges and tricky bits whilst I take on the role of carer/protector all be it from a physical distance and Mum the protected.
I believed up until a couple of months ago that I was a strong woman who despite all that life has thrown at her remains invincible in adversity! Oh but how this mighty woman has fallen! A couple of months ago I had a phone call saying my lovely Mum had been admitted to hospital . I am not going to go into all the ins and outs of Mums month of hospital treatment as I have written that in a letter to the hospital. It is the mother daughter stuff I want to take note.
As I write this I weep. Dealing with a situation that I had no control over seeing my Mum confused and vulnerable in hospital really tipped me over the edge. I was running back and forth to Plymouth my home town over 200 ,miles away from here to be with Mum but then feeling guilty as was not here caring for my boys. I felt guilty wherever I was and became exhausted with all the running around. I work in social services as a social worker in adult services so know all so well the situation I now found myself in. Yet I still struggled to come to terms with accepting that I indeed need help, support and I was indeed much stressed. Weirdly so work which may have been a source of support was the least sympathetic apart from a couple of work colleagues who had the good sense to push me home. One wonders that due to us dealing so much with distressful life events we have indeed become de-sensitised it is certainly something I will remember when I see colleagues in distress.
Stress brought on by life events is a weird one to be “off sick “ with. I still in between weeping not sleeping and being generally out of sorts had to carry on being Mum, daughter and general carer. A friend noted that in our society there is neither plan nor support for working women who live away from elder parents. Yet from Mum’s friends and relatives there was a huge expectation that I would just come and sort Mum out.
I am her daughter she has cared for me so it is now my turn to do the same. I don’t dispute this and have spent the last ten years mulling over options and offering these options to my lovely Mum. I live in a small terraced house when Mum comes I sleep in the conservatory . I have suggested she moves nearby, we move together , tomorrow next year or year after. I have always stated that I will care for my Mum. However my life and children’s life is here over two hundred miles away. She is out of hospital now and recovering with a care package. I phone daily and am that long distance daughter burdened with guilt that rings social services to sort out care and makes letters of complaint to the hospital. It is funny. All the systems processes and expectations are that you will be there to care. I am also expected to be a good mother and indeed go to work. Whichever way I have looked in the last six weeks it has always felt the long way. Whilst sitting at hospital bed side holding my confused Mum’s hand large boy struggles with UCAS/ university applications and small boy with showering, homework and stuff. They are bigger and have coped with the lovely support of my partner H but I always got “when are you coming home Mum?” on the phone.
After the afternoon rush of hospital visitors ( my Mum has lovely friends and relatives who love my Mum) Mum and I would sit quietly together. I have a brother with learning disabilities so you see for many years it is just her and me. We have done birthdays, Christmas , high days and low days together. The love and intimacy I share with my Mum is indeed special even on a hospital ward.
So we have got through this episode. Mum is a little bit frailer but home determined to remain independent in her own home. I am back in my world feeling fragile, still a bit stressed but about to return to work and hold down a sense of normality. I have also realised how important H is in my life and what a lovely support he has been these past weeks. A plus has been we have become closer and he has developed closer relationships with boys including showing large boy how to use a washing machine and small boy how to polish shoes!
Christmas looms and the regular plan of us all being here is topsy turvy. Mum can’t come here and we can’t go there as I am her “working daughter” who must work Christmas Eve. I bet I am not the only one as we live in a society where the expectations of work and earning money so often over shadow the needs of family life. So we shall head down south Boxing Day. I dreaded telling the boys; a week without internet might kill them! However this is where that lovely unconditional love reaps what it sows. The boy’s attitude is of course we must go see Gran at Christmas and we will cope without internet if we can do activities and of course take the Xbox and spare telly!
Christmas for me has always been about family and this year it will be the same with lots of love but with a sea view!