I was struck by a television show I was watching earlier tonight: the character was Latino, and he had come home to find his mother lying on the floor, she had fallen. The caregiver had been gone for a couple of hours and the character was furious and went after the caregiver with the can of whoopass. At the end of the show, this character was going into his mother’s home, where he tells her how beautiful she looks, to which she responds that she had to look her best because she was so happy that her son was moving back home. And then the mom starts being a mom – “come sit down with me, watch my show, can you make me a sandwich?” I had to laugh because I sooo related to this and this proves to me that I am not the only one who has “had” come back home.
As I write, I’m now in my “apartment” AKA the “girls room” – the place where I grew up. It is sooo deja vu right now, the way the light looks, the way the house sounds kind of quiet, the way I’m playing the radio low, and, as it is tuned into a classic oldies station, it feels as if I am back in time to when I used to be in the room doing my homework! LOL
My view in the “girls room”
Regular readers of my blog know my story of moving back home to be with my folks. Mama has since passed and it’s me and my father. While I admit that I miss my former life profoundly which consisted of spending time with my now FamFriends, going out a lot, working a lot, trying to work on having a meaningful relationship in my life, and finding my place in the world. However, I now realize that I was always looking for a sense of family and togetherness in every city I have lived/worked. As I was alone with family far away, I didn’t really have to deal with work getting in the way of family things plus I was usually far enough so I wasn’t mired in the day-to-day routine. To my amazement, I now realize that one of the things that I missed was the sense of ‘home’ – that peaceful feeling of being able to relax completely, to be yourself, to know that you are totally safe and loved.
I’m now all up in the day-to-day trying to keep this house in order, always watchful of my father. Tonight, he seems down and, while I try not to get all up in his business, I feel better knowing that he’s not by himself. My fear is coming home to find him fallen down or hurt or worse. I just want him to be safe and happy. I know now that familia has to work together to contribute to the peace, safety, and love that makes our house feel like a home.
This peace and joy did not come easy. Caregiving is not an easy gig and the struggle is real because, at the end of the day, you are NOT their parent, even though it feels like it a lot of the time. You are all up in their things and, in this house at least, no one likes it when you move their stuff around. Also, in this house, Mama used to say that her kids were all chiefs as we all have our opinion on everything LOL. She was right. I especially would go crazy when things did not go my way and when this family would not follow the schedule that I made for us. I had to learn to bite my tongue and to pick my battles. I had to stop judging them for a million things, and just love them.
For any of you who have “had” to move back home, these tips really helped me to make it a little easier.
- Respect that it is not easy for your parents either: someone, even their daughter, coming into their space can feel disruptive and they may be embarrassed that the house isn’t as neat as it used to be, or that they can’t do the things they used to.
- Dignity goes a long way. I learned this first-hand when I was the one “assigned” to clean and change Mama’s clothes. I was so concerned that she was comfortable as fast as possible that I didn’t cover the exposed parts of her body like I should have One day, I just watched Toni, one of the hospice nurses, as she moved and bathed Mama with such care and dignity so that I could try to make her comfortable.
- Live like roommates and have the roommate talk: This sets simple ground rules and has worked wonders for family unity and understanding. It allows everyone in the house to live their lives, work, spend time with friends and work out issues.
- Respect each other’s space, get out of each other’s way when need be. I have, on occasion, dropped Dad off to have a few drinks and sing with the mariachi and then pick him up … talk about Turning the Tables! He, on the other hand, is always telling me to get out of the house and go out, that he’ll be alright.
- Create Your Support Crew: You may need help getting folks to appointments, getting meals handled, picking up meds, cleaning the house or to listen to you vent. People do want to help how they can and, even if it’s just for a couple of hours, let someone be there for you as you care for your parents.
Change doesn’t have to be disruptive forever. The way I see it, my parents gave us everything we needed to get out there in the world and as, nothing is free, it is important for me to be here now for my father. Respect, dignity, open communication, support system, and stepping back when need be can make any situation bearable, even fun. My Dad and I, thank God, are able to talk to each other.
Hablando se entiende la gente. I’m smiling right now because we just had what is a typical nighttime conversation between Dad and I: “Mija, quiero un taquito para tomarme la medicina” he usually likes a snack when he takes his meds. This Daddy’s girl says, “ok but ‘con tortillas de maiz‘ because it’s late.” My father is Team Flour Tortillas all the way and I’m Corn Tortilla girl — and this is how we compromise LOL . There you have it: Another peaceful night at home on the Ranch.