Tuesday, January 03, 2017

break almost over

I guess my mom is almost totally better; she took my dad out to PT this afternoon after cancelling the past few sessions.

I go back tomorrow. I am not as ready to as I am most years for two reasons: (a) still worried about how my parents will get on in my absence and (b) I really honestly didn't have a relaxing break.

Oh, intellectually I can say, "How lucky it was I was here when she fell" (And I literally was - I was outside carrying groceries up to the house; I didn't see her fall but I was there immediately after). I'm guessing they would have had to get a home-health worker in if I hadn't been here, and that's always difficult. The one thing we got help for was bringing in and setting up the (live) Christmas tree; a neighbor came over and helped me get it in the stand. My mom was ok enough to help decorate it a little....and I undecorated the tree and hefted it out to the curb yesterday.

And yeah. Christmas is now over. (Yes, yes, I know: Epiphany, but most Protestants don't do very much with that). I sent off a couple boxes of things (books, older clothes, a birdfeeder I got for Christmas) that I can't fit in my suitcase to haul home, so it really does feel like break is almost over.

I confess, as much as I can say intellectually, "How lucky it was I was here to help out," emotionally - that fragile-six-year-old part of my psyche - I feel very cheated. I didn't get to relax as much as I wanted.. I didn't get out to the Sewing Studio's sale, though I'm also thinking maybe a minor resolution for this year is to work down my accumulated fabric and yarn as much as possible and not buy new stuff - both to save money for my summer-of-no-teaching and to (more importantly) clear out some of the clutter I have around. (I probably also need to weed my books a lot.)

I did buy some new shoes (there being no good shoe stores near me, and I'm not entirely willing to do the buy-try-and-maybe-return business through somewhere like Zappo's) but I had to go out alone to do it.

There were also several nights after my mother first fell that I really didn't sleep. Part of it was listening to see if one of them needed something in the night; a bigger part was that I'd lie down and all the gloomy thoughts would come - 2016 was really bookended by bad stuff for my parents; January was my dad's trip to the ER (and my panicked series of phone calls to try to find out where they were when my brother couldn't reach them) and December was me driving my mom to Urgent Car under slightly less-worrying circumstances to make sure nothing was too terribly wrong. Though for the couple days before I could get her out there I would lie awake at night wondering, "could she have cracked a rib that might still puncture a lung?" or "she couldn't have any internal bleeding, could she?" (I probably watch too many of those "Life in the ER" shows). I didn't really relax totally about it until a day or so ago when she seemed much improved.

And of course, in and around all that, other bad news - the attack on a Christkindlmarkt; the attack on a nightclub in Turkey; Carrie Fisher suddenly dying and then her mother going two days after her. And just the general geopolitical worries I've alluded to over the past months, and some new concerns about the budget for next year in my state.

And yeah, I get that I'm very lucky in a lot of ways - most immediately, that my mom didn't hurt herself badly and she's getting better - but I am ready for at least a few weeks of good things of some kind happening for a change.

I stayed home a lot. I wound up watching a lot of the cooking shows on Food Network - my mom likes them too and she was mostly tied to a heating pad in a big chair - and I realized something about these shows. (I mean shows like "The Pioneer Woman" and "Barefoot Contessa" and a couple of the other ones - there's one done by a woman who lives on a farm in upstate New York). What I realized is this: the reason I like these shows is probably the same reason a lot of people dislike or deride them: they are unrealistically ideal. The people in them seem to have fairly perfect lives - they must have a lot of money; their houses are always clean; they live near good places to buy food so they don't have to fight the crowds at the Wal-mart and they don't have to try to find the least-squashed-looking cauliflower in the produce section there. And you know what? I want that fantasy. I want to believe that someone out there doesn't lead a life like mine, which feels like it's about thirty percent making it up as I go along, twenty percent having no idea what I'm doing, and fifty percent fearful that I'm actually doing it all wrong. And I know (intellectually, again) that the people don't have perfect lives - surely Ree Drummond and her husband argue sometimes, or their kids aren't as sweet and cooperative as we see on the show, and Ina Garten probably gets angry at times or maybe has that one flakey friend who agrees to do something for her but never does - but emotionally, I want to believe there are people out there who don't seem to have so many big messes in their lives.

Even if I never get to the point of having an ideal life. I don't even care about that. Oh, it would be nice to have such a pretty and well-arranged life, where I wasn't running around like my hair was on fire a certain amount of the time, but it's just reassuring to imagine that there are people who actually have it figured out.

And so, tomorrow, I have to go and be a total adult again. I will have to plan balanced meals again, I will have to either figure out which clinic my doctor moved to, or failing that, find a new doctor (woe), I will have to write my last syllabus and make up my BlackBoard pages and start my next run of research and pay the bills that are coming due and hope that my refrigerator and freezer didn't die while I was gone (they're getting kind of old for an appliance) and I'm hoping very hard that mice didn't invade my house while I was gone and I'm hoping my car didn't get damaged in the apparent heavy weather that came through East Texas yesterday, and and and....and it makes me tired all over again, and makes me wish I just had someone to take care of me once in a while. (I will say, when I was in the thick of all the cooking/marketing/cleaning/getting stuff for people, I thought bitterly, "This is a message from the universe to me, I guess: I come home hoping to be taken care of a little, and I wind up having to take care of everyone. I guess that's my role in life - that I am only here to take care of others and I will never again get to be taken care of, short of paying someone to do things." I don't feel quite that resentful any more but I do still feel a little sad that my break wasn't what I hoped it would be.

1 comment:

purlewe said...

I am sorry your break wasn't what you were hoping for. I do hope you did find some comfort in being with your parents. Just being in their presence and being in your hometown. I am sorry you had to do so much, but I am glad you were there to help them.

One holiday my FIL had surgery on 12/18 and we got home to him being in bed for the duration of the weekend. I made the whole meal and we did a smaller tree etc. it was what it was. All of them remember that holiday less fondly. But to me it just showed that it doesn't need all the trimmings, it is still the holiday.