TRADING DEPENDENTS

About 15 years ago, my sister-in-law glanced incredulously at me while flipping the pages of my sketchbooks. “Loraine, why on earth aren’t you doing your artwork? Or your writing for that matter?

I laughed. “Oh, sure, I think I have all of a ½ hour per day when I’m not either driving the kids around to their school sports, cooking meals for said children, or taking care of our acreage and horses. Oh, yes… I guess I also have a husband in there too who requires a little attention. If I allowed myself creative outlets, I would be like that cranky dog with a bone. I would not be a nice mommy or a supportive wife if I was dragged away from my writing or artwork. Besides, creativity can’t just be turned on and off like a tap when the few moments arise.”

The excuses rolled out of my mouth faster than our kids and their friends exiting their school at 2:30. And to be honest the excuses were mostly valid. At that point in my life the kids were my priority and I wasn’t going to miss a thing. Their desires and needs for my services and time would soon pass as their priorities and lifestyles changed.

Andrew in track

(My son Andrew in his track years)

It might have been different had I not had my other hobbies taking up my time too (my horses and showing). So my creative side waited, not all that patiently, along the sidelines.

Later, after my kids graduated and the hours spent as a taxi driver and fan of their sports diminished to zero, I allowed myself to tread tentatively toward my neglected artistic and creative side. Also due to nagging injuries, I had to let go of my horses and acreage. My creative juices were flowing full steam ahead in the form of writing courses, conferences and contests. I was also commissioned to illustrate my first book. Hallelujah! I’d turned the page of my life.

However…

Dependents come in many forms. First it was the children but now my last remaining parent, my mom, whom I adore, needs my help. Of course, as before with my children, when her needs arise, I leave everything and leap to her side. Thus my creative outlets are yet again sometimes leashed and tethered.

Mom and girls

(Me, my mom and my sister)

But I have now found, perhaps as a more assertive ‘over fifty’ woman, that delegating has had to become the norm, rather than taking on everything as I did before. We luckily do have a large and supportive family in town and there is now a schedule of duties. Even though I’m the only daughter in town, the other brothers have been roped in for duty as well as their fantastic wives.

Also, my age-old excuse of being unable to ‘turn on my creativity like a tap’ doesn’t cut it anymore. If I have only a few minutes to spare, those minutes are put to use. Every person has an ideal time to write and work, and mine is in the mornings. However, if have been up with the owls on occasion to get some deadlines met. Even though my kids do ‘all nighters’ for school frequently, I detest them. But do them I must, to get done. Oddly enough, my body seems to go through a bit of a sleepy snit-fit about midnight, but then gives in for the second wind now.

So, tell me. How do you all get your projects done when dependents tug at your collars?

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10 thoughts on “TRADING DEPENDENTS

  1. Oh boy do I hear ya! I don’t have any kids of my own, but my parents were older when they married, so my brothers and I are quickly reaching the age where we need to take care of them. As the only girl (and the only single person left in the family), it can be easy to feel like I have to do it all, but I’m learning that I simply can’t, and I have to be very direct and ask my brothers if they can help out.

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    • Hi AJ! I really see how people would assume that you have ‘lots of time’ since you are single. Plus being the daughter naturally puts you up in the line too. I really had to be direct too with my brothers. But also there are services (for a cost) out there that can help out. But when you don’t know how long parents can live, their dwindling savings are always a concern. So again, it’s back to the family. Thanks for your thoughts!

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  2. And then there’s the flip side of living halfway across the country from your widowed parent (Daughter Guilt). Currently, one brother and one sister (who is single) live near my mom. Of course, the bulk of the burden of time is on my sister’s shoulders, mostly because of my brother’s work schedule.
    I try to visit twice a year and make sure to communicate with them, but it never seems like enough. Any suggestions for distant siblings?

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    • Linda, is your mom very computer literate? I have found that skyping is a really good alternative when you can’t be there in person. Phoning is fine, but skyping (or FaceTime on a mac) has kept us close to my son in China. We have our little Skype visits about once a week. But living far away from family is so hard, especially when the parent’s needs change quickly. I feel for you! If she isn’t very good at skyping could your sister arrange it at her place or something? That’s what we do with an old friend of mom’s in England. She goes to her son’s place and they chat from there. Good question!

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      • Thank you for all those suggestions, Loraine. Sorry it took me five days to get back on this web page! I don’t have Skype, but we do use FaceTime with our own grandchildren, and I might be able to videochat via Google with Mom. I’ll check that out.

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        • You are most welcome Linda. I’m hoping it works. I couldn’t imagine being away from my mom’s voice for long. Things can happen so quickly when they are in their senior years. Good luck!!

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  3. After my father died last year, my relationship with my mother changed in an unexpected way. Though I had been attending her doctor visits the last few years, she was otherwise spry — still driving and even taking her car in for repairs (at 81!). In the void left by my father’s absence, she and I are expanding into more of a companionship than before.

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    • Vanessa,I would imagine your mom is really needing and appreciating your companionship now. Is she still living by herself? I ask, because, when my mom moved into a facility, she found many new friends and I wasn’t her only source of companionship anymore. It was a relief for both of us when her activities expanded!

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      • Mother is living with me. She is very attached to us, especially since my dad died. She’s a good influence on my younger daughter too. Lot’s of wisdom…. 🙂

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        • That’s so great! She must love that! And it is also great that your daughter can benefit from the closeness and wisdom! With our family we are all living within about a couple of miles and are all actively involved with Mom (when she’s not busy with her friends!) So both situations can work really well.

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