I can’t believe it has been nearly three months since I last blogged. I’ve been feeling pretty rubbish the last week or two and it’s been nice to come back here and read my posts to remind myself of how far things have come.
In summary, on the surface, we had a pretty, fantastic summer:
- Seven weeks where I only worked seven days, loads of lovely free days out with the family and an amazing if totally exhausting trip through Europe with the hubs and kids.
- Brother, cousins and friends stepping in to look after my parents while we were away in Europe.
- No major depressive or anxiety episodes for hub.
- No major injuries or falls (aside from firstborn breaking her arm in two places two days before school broke up; but, relatively minor when you consider the fall that led to my mother in law’s passing at Easter and my mum’s major fall back in April).
But I guess this version is reflective of the Facebook society in which we live where we paint everything in an overly positive light. The reality is that summer has been tough and I’m looking forward to getting back to work and routine.
Kids have been bickering, all over-tired from too many late nights and too many devices. Hub has had enough of the hols too and the constant cleaning, cooking and entertaining our delightful progeny and I’m questioning the whole three generations living together thing.
It’s been over six months since my parents moved in to the annex and nearly ten months after they arrived in the UK. I am still not sure if the move was the right thing to do. Hub and my mum barely talk to each other and relationships are tense. Mum isn’t the grandmother I thought she would be, doing crafts and teaching the kids to cook as she did with me. She has established herself as another disciplinarian constantly telling me, telling hub and the kids to shine their shoes, do their hair, cut their nails, iron and help her out with a never-ending list of chores from dead heading the roses to sorting out finances. I guess she’s earned it and she’s ‘old school’, but it is hard getting the kids to be effusively loving when faced with a constant task master.
It’s funny because when mum talks about us to others we are the best thing in the universe, the kids are angels and I’m a star, but I wish she could show some of that positivity to us rather than everyone else.
I know it is a huge adjustment for them and writing this I am feeling awful for being such a bitch. They’ve moved across the whole world, uprooted themselves and probably imagined a very different future too.
Dad’s dementia has got worse over the last 6 months and particularly over the summer. He is happy in the annex, but if we try to take him out he gets angry and quite aggressive. His bathing and shaving has gone to pot, which I never knew was a common thing with memory loss. He last had a shower about a month ago, and it really isn’t pleasant. He’s grown a beard which he hasn’t had for about 35 years. It could be that he’s forgotten how to bathe, but also apparently showers can seem quite scary and loud when you are confused and there are often also issues with depth perception which mean people with memory loss can’t quite see things properly in a white bathroom. I feel for mum, and it’s sad for me too to see that dad I knew disappear.
We’ve got our lovely dementia navigator from the Alzheimer’s society coming over on Monday so I am hoping she can help with some practical advice on getting him clean!
Even though hub he says he is ok with me spending time with my parents in the annex I feel guilty about leaving him with the kids as I know how stressful and overwhelming it can be for him. This means each time I rush in and out of the annex as quickly as possible to get back to our house. As a result, I don’t spend as much time with my parents as I’d like and I feel guilty about that too. I also feel guilty that I’ve taken mum away from all her friends and a vibrant community to live an isolated life in the bottom of the garden. I’m sure she doesn’t see it that way, but that’s how I’m feeling at the mo.
We kind of feel like neighbours who look in on each other, and I feel like paid help brought in to do the banking, shopping, and life logistics rather than the happy family I naively imagined. Perhaps it’s that ‘fixer’ thing I’ve got going coming back to bite me. Hub has complained several times over the holidays that I am totally incapable of chilling. I can’t just sit. When I sit, lists form in my mind of all the things I want to do. And my mum is the same. Then I rush around a mile a minute and get annoyed because no one else is helping me, or I get tired, or I turn into a martyr who feels they are the only one who ever does any work. I know…. It’s all of my own making.
And being the fixer that I am when I do steal 15 minutes to go over to my parents I spend time doing all the things mum’s written on her lists as I want to be as helpful and productive as possible. But I leave feeling deflated.
That said, I know what I need to do. It’s what I’ve been writing in these posts for nearly a year. I need to chill out, I need to do nothing, I need to enjoy games and silliness and chats with no purpose. I need to accept that mum isn’t going to change, just like I accept hub’s illness, then I need to focus on quality time, not ticking boxes.
Reading my ‘Facebook’ version of the summer holidays in the first paragraph I do have so, so much to be grateful for. I need to stop putting all these expectations on myself and everyone else so that I can enjoy what I have and stop feeling frustrated about all that I haven’t yet done or got sorted. So, here’s waving goodbye to my summer feelings of inadequacy and hello to autumn of being present and stopping with the lists!!
p.s. Since writing this post on Friday I’ve had two cups of tea, had a little sit and taken mum to the shops. I’ve still got a mega list of things to do not least because I have 45 people coming today to celebrate mum and dad’s 40th anniversary, but baby steps… I’ll get there.