Do people forget?

By now, I’ve been intimately involved with my mother’s affairs for several years. And whereas even members of my family will say on occasion, “It’s just to collect Mum’s meds, she’s just out of hospital!” or “It’s only one day, what’s the problem?” I can’t help feeling an ache and exhaustion in my bones, nor can I escape the regret of knowing that doing any physical task – let alone tasks for my mother that have become loaded with worry, regret and sorrow – takes me three times as much energy as for someone who walks easily, who can stroll at the run twice as fast as I stagger, and who doesn’t have to worry about falling off pavements and such like. For me, there are no longer any ‘simple’ things.

Do people forget to see that? In the midst of others’ busy lives, I find that my very real limitations impede their expectations of what I will do for them. Even my nearest and dearest sometimes appear to be oblivious to my exhaustion. But though I’m still here, still working, I have finally begun to accept that the end result of continuing to work as I have done, navigating and dealing with constant demands and a shifting landscape of imperatives and semi-disasters, for me will be complete physical and emotional collapse.

I have no wish to go down that route. So, as a first priority, I have to do what I can to set my own agenda and stick with it. Faced with seemingly endless and tiring jobs to manage for other people, this is the only answer I can summon: I must do first what I need to do, and the rest will have to be dealt with by others, or simply not dealt with. Any and various disasters that crop up will either have to be endured, allowed to languish, or sorted out, and not always by me. It’s what we planned for in any case: no-where has it ever been writ, or stated, that I am my mother’s physical carer, or that I am available for her every beck and call.

In recognition of that, I have to truly begin to accept my limitations and step back, so that, little by little, I can reassert my right to make choices which, though they may not always be the best, are at least my own.

My mother will approve of my desire to reassert my freedom in what is, after all, my own life.

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