Not quite the plan

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


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I like what I like.

I got Mom some ice cream tonight and we sat together while she ate it.  As she was enjoying her fudge bar, my cat jumped up on the couch and began wandering over to Mom. 

While Mom is increasingly fond of my cat, she prefers not to touch her.  She likes the cat on the floor, with a nice distance between her and that fur and claws.

So Mom immediately jumped away from the cat and asked me to get her down.  I laughed and asked her why she lets my cat bother her.  Her answer,  “I like what I like.”  Mom likes the fudge bar, not the cat.  Simple.  Clear.

All of us could use that kind of clarity sometimes.  I like these things.  Not those.  I don’t like my job.  Some days I would rather read chick lit than anything more literary.  But for many of us, our likes and dislikes get swept up in our responsibilities, the compromises we make with and for with the people around us, and concepts of what we should prefer.

Some of this is good of course.  Eating Mom’s pizza and ice cream diet would be a terrible life choice for me right now.  Neither is quitting my job the right choice for the foreseeable future. 

Though most of what Mom navigates now is challenging and painful,  I envy her the clarity that at this stage, she can simply like what she likes. 

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Some days I think dementia is contagious.

Like today.  Where I actually mix up words as I say them. I obviously know all the right words but I hear them coming out of my mouth in a slightly wrong order.  And it takes me three trips back upstairs to gather everything together to be ready to go to the doctor’s office.  Some days I forget things that should be easy to remember, like what book I finished just a few days before.  And it scares me.

Do not be confused.   I am not actually scared that I have dementia right now.  Odds are good that I get it one day, but my plan is to worry about that then.  But what scares me is how far my life is stretching me.  My brain can only juggle so many loose ends and unresolved questions.  I need to pick up the meds, call the assisted care place, find the missing toilet paper, pay the bills, talk to the caregiver about hours, and take the random items out of the freezer that Mom has stashed there.  And when did she last have a glass of water? 

And too, I find myself feeling that I need to remember everything I have shared with Mom since if I forget, then those memories are gone forever.  So I want to hold on to the memories of a happy family.  Of my competent mother.  

Which leaves my mind full of these memories and worries and the endless things to do.  My brain is simply too full and stretched by the crazy life of mine.  And so I find myself grasping for the right word.  Just like someone with dementia.  Just like Mom. 


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Dating and caregiving.

So another relationship ended a couple of months ago and I am back to the wilds of dating life.  This week I have my first first date in a couple of years and am of course contemplating how to juggle dating and caregiving for Mom.

I find myself staring at the question on the online dating site I frequent:  “Would you date someone who still lives with his/her parents?”  Answer– from every guy who appears like an interesting date for me: “No.”

And then there is the message from someone who thinks he is being creative by asking me what the movie about my life would be titled.  I ponder whether I share one of my possible titles for my memoir about this whole caregiving journey.  Not quite the plan?

At what point does one mention, by the way, I live with my mother with rapidly advancing dementia?  Is this a topic for the first or second date, or the twentieth?  Or even via email before the date if I share my honest answer to this man’s question?  How will any of them react?  The questions overwhelm me.  I know and value the incredible life lessons caregiving has taught me but fear my choices make me a far too complicated woman in a pool of less complicated and of course younger women.

Even Google provides me with no answers.   An internet search for dating and caregiving finds me various musings on dating for caregivers caring for spouses who explore dating on the side as their spouses’ conditions worsen.  Complicated also, but nothing like what I am navigating.  An article on Match.com only depresses me as it explains, ” 40 million people — most of them baby boomers — provide care to an aging parent.”  It does however provide the helpful advice to manage my time wisely.

This does however give me a new idea for my memoir title:  If only I was a baby boomer.