Not quite the plan

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


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Mascara on a good day.

Once upon a time, before caregiving took over my life, I used to make a modest effort with my appearance.  Lets be clear that I was never particularly enthusiastic about makeup but I was aware of personal presentation.  I gave some thought to clothes, jewelry, purses, hair. 

When caregiving came along, it was all too much.  A lot of days early on, I did not even look in a mirror.  I did not wear earrings for so long that it surprised me that the holes had not closed up when I finally found some to wear. 

In the last two years, I can probably count the number of times I have walked into a store that sells women’s clothing and nothing else.  Once, Mom and I passed an H&M on a walk and spontaneously decided to shop together.  Mom picked up a bunch of clothes for me in the wrong size but also picked out a necklace for me that I wear often now.  It was a lovely outing since shopping for my clothes once was a regular bonding activity for us.  On another occasion, I convinced Mom to stop at an outlet mall we were passing on a drive and similarly had a happy hour of shopping for both of us once I figured out how to manage the wrong size and style clothes that she consistently selected for me! 

But wirh these occasional exceptions, steps to take care of my own appearance are a lot lower on my list.  At some point, all my makeup expired.  Pedicures stopped happening. Where once I would have planned an outfit for a friend’s wedding weeks in advance, the last few times I have found myself wildly throwing a couple of dresses in a bag hoping that the shoes I had already packed would coordinate reasonably well.

Caregiving has taught me the limits to how many things I can juggle.  At some point, the list simply overflows. 

As I have improved my juggling skills, I have found that little bit of energy again for these kinds of steps.  Lately the daily goal is mascara and one item of jewelry before I walk out the door.  Sometimes I manage one, sometimes achieve both.  Today was a good day for mascara and I am pleased enough by that. 

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Hair and nails.

Mom was always a polished woman.  Her hair was dyed and coiffed, makeup smooth, nails long, red and shiny.  She likes to match colors and usually had shoes, purse, belt and earrings all neatly coordinated.  Even in the early stages of memory loss, she maintained this level of appearance.

Now it is a lot harder.  She no longer drives, and amidst everything else that I do, I have not taken Mom to a salon for a while.  For the first time in her life, the grey is seriously showing.  I no longer take her to a nail place so she paints her own nails at home and does not do the best job of it.  It’s a dilemma to me whether I should prioritize this more given her self image of a lifetime.  Or whether it’s okay to let this go on the not quite as important list.  Hair and nails are lower on my personal priority list but Mom was always different from me in this way.  I wonder what others do about this particular issue.  Sometimes I tell her we should go get this done and she says that she will do it tomorrow, or next week, or that she needs to let it grow more before getting it done.  This last response from her confuses me so I just let it be.

With the delays in visiting a salon her hair is growing out a bit and Mom is getting more creative with her hair styles.  I bought her a pack of different colored headbands and she likes to match them to her outfit.  She also found some hair clips and uses them quite generously.  I find it really cute but I don’t know that “cute” is her ideal look at almost 70.

We have agreed that I am taking her to a holiday party in a couple of weeks and this discussion led to an immediate assessment from her that she needed to get her hair done.   I think she is right.  The party will be the biggest social event she has attended in a long time.  Good hair is a solid start.  Maybe we will get bright red manicures together too.