Caretaker

It had occurred to me a while ago to start posting using the titles of the Voyager episodes, but life has been overwhelming over the past 6 months while I myself have – in a sense – been co-opted into the position of caretaker.

My (fairly) elderly mother moved in with us 6 months ago due to ill health at the time. But it transpired that much of her physical ill health was due to toxicity from her prescription medications, and now that that has been addressed, she is feeling physically well enough to go home again.

I can’t say how relieved I am.

We moved house into our new home with my mother, but consequently it has felt as though we were living in her house rather than the other way round. And I can’t begin to tell you how excruciatingly stressful it has been to have an effective stranger living in our home. Yes, she is my mother, but I have lived independently for almost 30 years, having left home at 16.

That’s not even to mention the fact that mother’s illness is not primarily physical but mental. I really don’t want to dwell on that here, but suffice to say that being a carer for a mentally ill person put extreme stress on me personally and my own mental health as well as the family generally.

One good thing that has come out of mother living with us has been that I finally admitted that I could not cope on my own with the housework (without putting to fine a point on it, none of the other 6 adults and teens in the house really do their fair share), and so I decided to employ cleaners to pull up the slack.

I wish I had been able to get over my pride/ guilt/ shame ten years ago when the children were little and I really needed help. Why do we women do this to ourselves? Struggle on, berating ourselves, assuming we have to do it all?

The only thing is that I’m not sure I’ll be able to afford them when mother leaves. But to be quite honest, I think that having my house and my life and independence back will be so wonderful that it won’t matter. I am really just looking forward to being alone together again.

I wanted moving to our new place to be the beginning of an adventure. It’s not quite the ‘homestead’ that I had dreamed of but it is our own place finally – with a garden where we cook grow food and do all those homemaker-y things I imagined I’d be able to learn here. It hasn’t been possible while mother has been living here, because all my energy has been focused on her. I feel terribly guilty about being selfish letting her go. But it is what she wants, and I am looking forward to resuming my “journey toward home”.

Perhaps, when we are more settled and have a solid routine, we could manage to let her return. But for now, I just need space and time to recover myself.

LLAP, Kathryn

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