Not quite the plan

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

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Ah, balance.

This post should probably be titled the complete and utter lack of balance in my life.  So, like many people, I made a new year’s resolution this year to exercise more.  The funny thing about this is that I used to be in reasonably good shape.  I have memories of biking to work, regular yoga classes, getting to the gym often enough.

I am not saying that I was perfect but I did pay attention to this area of life.  And then… So many of my stories now seem to go back to this moment.  And then my father died and everything shifted.  I think I made it to the gym twice in a one year period.  LA Fitness really got an amazing deal of out my membership, since of course, cancelling a fitness club membership was beyond my capacity for that same year!

So here I am with a new year’s resolution to go to the gym.  And I am doing it, all of once a week, when I get my pathetic self to Zumba class. As I said, the complete and utter lack of balance.  In the end I get a lot of hours at my job, some socializing there, and then Mom time.  One of my parenting friends suggested home videos but thus far, I cannot get those to stick.  When I am home, I find the to do list too staggering to focus on myself for long.

I have these lofty goals to add a second weekly class.  Craziness.  And yet, shockingly difficult.


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Mom and the children of the world.

Mom loves kids.  I mean, she absolutely loves kids.  Anytime we see a child or baby when we are out running errands, she stops everything to say hello, chat, admire them.  It’s lovely.

We were shopping in Ikea recently and I got highly distracted with the question of whether I was finding the 27 parts that seemed to be required to build the particular shelving unit that I wanted.  I looked up to find Mom happily chatting with a rather adorable 7 year old down the aisle.  Mom was channeling her inner school teacher — she taught elementary school for about a decade before having me.   It was quite sweet.  Mom was using our tiny Ikea pencil to write the little girl a report card giving her all As.   The girl’s father and I hovered, carefully watching the two of them.

It makes me happy when I see kids bring out this kind of happiness in her.  It also breaks my heart that she will not be around, at least not in a high functioning way, to be a part of my children’s lives, if I ever have them.  Mom recently told me out of the blue that she would like to open a day care in our house.  It was a brilliant idea for who she is at core, and yet not an idea that is possible anymore.   A more functioning version of her would have loved that.  And she would have been wonderful at it.

In the meantime, it always gives me a moment of joy when I see a child in our path these days.  I know that the minute of saying hi to them will make Mom’s day that much brighter.  I wonder whether the families we encounter have any idea of the joy they are bringing.

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Calling in sick.

So, I have a full time job.  And I need it to pay the rent, the student loans and the rest of the nonsense. 

Mom no longer is interested in such things.  She likes her ice cream and watching movies with me.  Every day she asks what I am doing tomorrow and about 4 of 5 times that I say I have to go to work, she suggests that I call in sick.  She even typically suggests that she could do the call for me since I think she imagines me unable to fake sickness as effectively.  She does some terrible fake coughs to demonstrate her superior faking sick abilities. 

Sometimes it is tempting of course.  A free parentally endorsed sick pass– what I would have given for that 25 years ago!  Sometimes I wish so much that I could stay home and treasure this last mostly good period with her.  Though there’s a lot if stress for me, we spend a lot of time joking and in happy shared moments.  I know Mom treasures her time with me.  She looks forward to when I come home from work to hang out with her.  She loves holidays and snow days when I am home all day.  And mostly I do too; calling in sick for the year sometimes sounds pretty right on.