Not quite the plan

on finding my groove as a 30 something single girl and caregiver for mom with dementia


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Mom takes on okcupid.

As a typical 30 something, online dating has been a constant in my life for the past few years.  When not in a relationship, I have profiles up and active, in the hope that one day I will find someone and join the ranks of my friends raising small children.  How this will happen while balancing a job and the caregiving, I am not certain but I am not willing to give up on it.

Since one of my mother’s major preoccupations in life is marrying me off, I finally realized that we might as well make online dating a joint endeavor.  We scroll through profiles together almost every day.  Usually, we begin with a discussion of why the people I look at list “straight,” on their profile which entertains me every time she asks.  But, Mom is quite adept at quickly assessing their photos.  Today, she rejects one man for his eyes closing too much when he smiles while a man holding a cat in his picture gets high marks.  She tells me the guy with the cat might be the guy for me.  I ask, “based on his face?”  And she says, “No, for his deep emotions.”  And cracks up.

I message the guy with the cat.  She is right; he does look like a nice guy.

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You need to use a coaster.

They say you turn into your parents, whether you like it or not.  And I always disagreed.  My parents were conservative, I was liberal.  My parents were religious, I was spiritual.  My parents were all about building their finances and I was a hard core non-profit girl.

And then one day, I found myself in the middle of an argument with my mother in our living room.  In my mid-30s, I live with Mom — more on that later.  For the moment, my Mom had brought a water bottle into the living room and plopped it right on the middle on a very nice wood coffee table.

“You need to use a coaster,”  I pointed out to her.  And she argued back that indeed she did not and that I was being unreasonable.  The furniture was fine.  Our discussion quickly became heated and suddenly it hit me– I have had this conversation before, with my mother.

Except the last time we had this discussion, I was her and she was me.  I was the kid arguing that I did not need the coaster.  She was the one trying to protect the furniture.  And I realize in the moment that what they say is exactly right.  We become our parents in all the important ways.  We take responsibility.  We say no to too much candy.  We become the parent.

I never expected to be living with my Mom at this stage of life — or really, ever again.  I had happily left home when it was time for college and thought that would be it.  She used to joke about living across the street from me and my kids one day and I would roll my eyes.  But then my dad died and my mom was diagnosed with dementia.  And so after a long, hard look at my values, I found myself here, arguing about coasters with Mom.