Coffee: Maxwell House Master Blend, Office Coffee
He told me he takes care of his mother, full time. She can’t walk, can’t drive, needs a chauffeur for shopping. But she takes care of him too. He can’t afford a house, can’t work due to a lifelong back injury keeping him on disability. He loves her, but he calls her a job. He’s embarrassed when he says it, but I get it. We talk a little more about her, then he tells me about how proud he is that he won a bit in the lottery and got to pay his back-pay in child support.
A couple years ago, I got taught about care-taking by a friend whose family was caring for her grandmother with dementia. I was invited over sometimes, joined them all for home cooked dinners or take-out Chinese, chatted on the couch, watched old episodes of British sitcoms, and in those fits and starts it was easy. I’d hear her grandmother’s circular stories, the way she’d mention the same place twice, and I’d see my friend steal away for an hour in the evenings to help her get ready for bed, but what looks simple on the surface is hiding an always-on exhaustion. Love can be a ring of iron roses around your neck.
There’s this image that the family bonds that bind us make things easier, and they certainly can, but not without a lot of behind the scenes work. Kids, parents, anyone you’re taking care of constantly, whose wellbeing is directly dependent on you, is nothing short of a full-time job. And though it might be a job you love, there shouldn’t be any shame or stigma in saying it’s exhausting.
Currently Reading: Queen, Suzanne Crain Miller
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Everyone expected Emily to take care and take charge. It had always been this way. When her mother was sick, she’d filled out her own permission slips for school. When Jess signed up to bring home the kindergarten rabbit for the weekend, Emily took care of it.Allegra Goodman, The Cookbook Collector