Monday, May 31, 2010

The child is parent

I'm having a hard time dealing with my mom lately. Hard as in, I really have to restrain myself from laying it all out for her, from asking her if she's giving any thought to how her decision to stay in her current house, without Dad, is affecting her children. She seems blissfully unaware of the fact that her staying in the house is only possible because her children are taking up the slack, managing bits and pieces of her life for her. But that all of her children are reaching their elder years, and are pretty much consumed themselves with dealing with a harsh and unforgiving current modern life. Elder Brother is retired, but worrying about loss of income due to investment downturns. Sis is working way too many hours, with 12 hour shifts, because her husband has been out of work for over a year. He's trying to do the best he can at going back to school (paid for by job & family services) in the hopes of finding a new career. He's training for a job as a medical office tech, which should be a solid career move: except for the fact that he's in his 50's, which really hurts his chances of finding work once he's graduated. 2nd brother is working full time at job one, filling his day off with a part time job, and worrying about a wife who hasn't worked in years due to back problems, and a child with severe psychological problems. 3rd brother has a full time job, an invalid mother-in-law, a wife who had two good jobs, quit them both because of health issues, and now works part time, but still  spends money full time. 4th brother works full time, deals with an ex wife who loves to spend money and use their children as weapons, and a new wife with a recently widowed mom. And then there's me. The only singleton. Who works full time doing stuff she loves but with people she finds more and more irritating.
We're in a retail business. Customers are, or should be, our raison d'etre, but my co-workers often act as if they just can't be bothered. It's quitting time, so slam the door in the face of the potential customer. Or let's watch stupid youtube videos instead of returning phone calls or dealing with paperwork. Or (and I find this especially irritating) let's talk on our cell phones and ignore both customers and our fellow workers. I'll admit it, once in a while I take a personal call at work. But if someone comes into my office, or the office hone rings, I put the personal call on hold or end the call, and attend to my job. Other people here just continue on with the call. Somedays I'd like to take just grab their phone away from them and throw it out the door.
Enough digression. Back to mom. I think part of it is because I'm single and mom must think "well, she doesn't have family to worry about, so she has more time to deal with my requests". Not stopping to think that being single means that everything that needs to be done in my house has to be done by me. The 9-5 job, the shopping, the cleaning, the laundry, cutting the grass, trimming, maintenance and repairs, getting the car to the shop for oil changes, all of it done by me. Which is OK most of the time. It's not the life I chose, it just happened, but it is my life and I deal with it. But when mom calls and asks if I can pick up a gallon of milk, or a prescription for her on  my way home, I know she's just not thinking about how much time it actually takes. Go to the store. Park. Enter store. Make purchase. Wait in line to pay. Back to car. Drive to Mom's house. Pick up an Rx is an hour gone. And the store will deliver Rx's for free. I keep reminding her of this, and she says "but then I'd have to be here when they deliver it". It's just so much easier for her to call me instead.
She frets over older brother, wonders why he and his wife don't visit as often as they used to, because she has some things she'd like for them to do.....and I have to bite my tongue to say, well maybe if they could just visit and not come here to work, they would visit more often.
I know, someone reading this might think: well aren't we supposed to help our parents when they get older? Yes. But how much of our lives do we owe our parents? I don't expect my son to take care of me. He has his own life. If he helps me sometimes with something I can't do on my own, I am very grateful to him. I don't expect him to help me with the chores of everyday life. For this is my life, not his.

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