(whatever “nick of time” even means)
But here is a description of the situation as of Thursday: Mom and I had been together, at home, virtually 24/7 since she was released from the Dreaded Hospital post-brain-surgery approximately two weeks prior. I don’t want to put words into her mouth, but I’m pretty sure she was super-annoyed with me by Thursday. I was on the verge of a nervous breakdown. The situation was dire.
Basic Problem: Mom is somewhat of a neat freak, and I’m probably a recovering hoarder. And cancer.
Suffice it to say that Mom’s tolerance for disorder (and by “disorder” I mean “anything that isn’t exactly where she thinks it should be” and is therefore a much broader term than “mess”…) is equivalent to my tolerance for criticism
of any kind of my writing. Non-existent. So, even in her post-brain-surgery condition (which is scads better than I imagined one could be after brain surgery) she, ummmm, noticed that her room wasn’t very orderly, her laundry wasn’t done and the kitchen could have been cleaner. She also seemed to notice (ha ha) that I wasn’t containing my inner fuck you very well.
I was a mess.
It is one thing to care for the physical needs of another human being. It is quite another thing to care for the physical and emotional needs of your brilliant, artistic genius mother (with great hair, even after brain surgery) who has been blindsided by her sneaky ovarian cancer branching out to her brain, especially when you are also in the midst of a mid-life crisis of seemingly epic proportions and all you really want is for your mommy to give you a hug and tell you everything is going to be ok.
Just writing about it is fucking exhausting.
And I can’t even really dig into all of it right now, because it’s scary and huge and sad. Mostly I just want to say that I wasn’t coping well after Mom came home from the hospital. I was still in shock (brain tumors?!?) and I was feeling overwhelmed with all the shit I hadn’t done for the two weeks she had been in the hospital + the need to get started on my thing before I lost all momentum. And it seemed that every time I started to do something there would be an interruption. The phone, the door, giving Mom her meds, getting her something from the kitchen, taking something back to the kitchen, helping her get around, running errands, etc. And have I mentioned that we live in a rowhouse? The front door is two levels (read: lots of stairs!) away from the bedrooms, the kitchen is in between and the office is one level up. I love this place, but running up and down these stairs all day long is not fun.
So. Instead of rising to the occasion, I began to shut down.
I have a picture in my head of how a “caretaker” should be and I would really really like to be that person, but right now I don’t look much like her. The caretaker in my head rises to the occasion, probably cheerfully. She knows what to do and is proactive, rather than reactive. I, on the other hand, don’t always know what to do, I get overwhelmed, forget the basic rules of taking care of myself and then get bitchy. And withdrawn. And generally annoyed. Mostly with myself, which then becomes a vicious circle that typically results in total shut down. Oh, and it turns out that I am an emotional eater, but that is a topic for another post.
Thank God for my sister. She is sassy. And a Virgo.
I don’t know how I got so lucky in the sister department. Honestly. She is eight years younger than me and the wisest, sanest person I know. Which is only surprising if you knew her as a teenage wild child [insert wink]…. I should hate her. She’s smart and she got the curly hair, the nice teeth, the dimples, the skin that tans, the pretty eyes, the organizational gene (Virgo!) and she can whistle. Oh, and she can sing. She also kicks ass at Rock Band. I know, right?
Totally. Not. Fair.
Unfortunately, she is hilarious. And kind. Which makes her impossible to hate. So I settle for adoring her relentlessly.
Anyway, she got here on Thursday and life got better for Mom and I. She encouraged me to (a) be nicer to myself, and (b) to get away from the house for the weekend. Which I totally did. Yay! A retreat! (more about my retreat later…) Then she laid some Virgo-love down — she cleaned and organized Mom’s room, she cooked and cooked and stocked our refrigerator/freezer with homemade goodness, she ran errands, organized Mom’s paperwork and probably more stuff that I don’t even know about. When I returned home on Sunday the atmosphere in the house was entirely different. And she made Easter lasagna, which was awesome.
This is not what I planned to write about.
I was planning to write about my weekend retreat, but I guess I needed to set the stage. And express my gratitude for my sister. (My brother is fairly awesome also, but this is a thank-fucking-god-for-my-sister post.) And also for her uber-supportive husband and daughter who sacrificed some time with her so that she could come help us.
I feel like there should be a moral to this story/post. Instead I feel like I’ve raised a ton of issues that all need to be addressed in more depth. Good thing I started a blog!
Anyway, gracias seester.
And thank you to all my family and friends and beloved new internet pals for all the support.