I have spent the last two years trying to handle a world where I am the
Funny thing is that it is harder than, say, a 5 year old. A young child will fall, wail, get up, and a kiss makes it all better. A 75 year old will fall and it's a ride in the ambulance, xrays, and 6 months of doctor offices.
Guilt. I suppose I feel more guilt than exhaustion, though the latter is certainly real. I feel guilty because I am unable to do it all, as in everything. I had always believed it was just a matter of scheduling, commitment, determination and planning. I even had some pride in myself that I could do more than my peers, tackle the tougher assignments, be more in-depth regarding a topic, and still have time to give to a few Good Causes to boot. No longer.
I'm lucky if I can just put out the daily fires that need to be extinguished, and I'm leaving the infernos still raging from the previous day, week, or even month.
Yet, I feel compelled to write. Not just for someone who may be reading this but for me. Yes, me. I need to put my thoughts together in some format that makes the world make sense again. I need a voice. I need a place to lament. I need that blank screen to scream, yell, curse, shout, cry, or just speak, even if it's only to myself.
I miss people.
Really. I miss people. That sounds strange to me; strange because it is my job to meet people, understand their unique situations and needs, offer solutions, give comfort, celebrate, or just chat. That's my job. I do it well. I talk with at least 30 people a day in serious conversation. But I miss people. Not people as in human contact, but people as in complete strangers who just strike up a conversation and enjoy the moment of that real connection. Or time with friends when we can sit and enjoy the meal without the worry of getting home in time to make sure the medicines are taken, the cat box is emptied, the food is stored away properly, or having enough drive time for the next medical appointment. No, I'm not talking about the employees at the grocery store who know me by name because I'm there nearly everyday to get food, prescriptions or cleaning supplies. Nope. I'm talking about conversations for the sake of conversations; laughter from the belly; sharing stories never heard before; feeling other people's hurt and not just my own.
I miss that. I miss feeling the humanity in others because I'm consumed with the demands of being a parent to my kids, and a parent to my own parent. There is no time left to feel -- I only have time to do.
I'm not my best for anyone: the rest of my family, my clients, or the causes I support. I'm my best for a situation for which I have no control and I am only along for the ride.
America is going to have to come to grips with my present reality as the Baby Boomers begin to enter the retirement years. Soon, my reality will be the norm, not the felt-sorry-for-circumstance-of-someone-down-the-street. Society will have to come to grips with the financial and emotional drain of aging parents. I'll leave that discussion for another time.
Now, don't get me wrong in all this. I am not complaining about task at hand because I'm thankful I can do this. I wouldn't trade this situation for anything in the world. It's been fun getting to know my mom in a whole new way. Frankly, I never knew she knew so many swear words, and that she could use them so quickly and so correctly in such amazing patterns.
What I'm saying is that one day, I'm fairly certain, my kids will have to do this for me and my care. I apologize to them now for their future anxieties. But what of others who have no one, nor the resources, to care for their aging relatives?
I no longer have the answers, the time, nor the energy I once had. Instead, I have a mom who needs me. And it's the least I can do.