I find myself quite unable to write these last few weeks. We spent two weeks in Canada over Easter, helping my parents to move to a retirement home. Despite the fact that we worked flat out trying to do absolutely everything imaginable, my parents are still struggling to settle into a new way of life, and finding obstacles at every turn. Having spent two weeks working 16 hour days trying to get everything done, I find this almost incomprehensible, and also very sad.
It is, without a doubt, a totally different way of life, and a hard thing to accept at any point in one's life. It is doubly hard for my father, as he refuses to accept that he really does need help, although he can barely walk 100 yards without gasping for breath. I feel so sorry for him, and for my mother, who is suffering his frustration, which manifests itself as snide comments and snappish remarks. They are due to celebrate their 50th wedding anniversary tomorrow and it pains me deeply that they are both so very unhappy, and so very unwell.
But still, life goes on - and I have to remember this is my life and that I deserve to enjoy it, even if two of the people I love are suffering and unhappy. I have to find a way to accept that we have done our best as a family, that I have done my best as a daughter, and that really no one can expect more than that. Mom and Dad are in one of the nicest retirement homes in their town, one that bears more resemblance to a Hilton hotel than a hospital, and their two room suite (which also has two bathrooms and a kitchenette!) contains their own furniture and belongings.
More importantly I need to be able to move on from this experience and also to move forward. Whilst of course I continue to support them emotionally, I cannot allow my parents to drain me of my own life and potential - nor can I allow them to swamp our own family life. This is the dilemma faced by so many housewives today. How do you support everyone you feel responsible for, balancing their needs and leaving no one feeling unsupported? And how can one possibly do this without neglecting oneself and/or driving oneself quite mad? I appreciate that putting other people first is important, but one cannot do that all the time, indeed one should not do that all the time.
Having been on a real roll and moving forward, I find myself somehow stuck in the quagmire of this strange situation. And of course whilst I remain metaphysically stuck, how can things move forward? The hardest thing about being metaphysically stuck is that you are the only one who can un-stick yourself. One has to learn the lesson and then one can move on. Which is easier said than done when so many of these lessons are things we would rather not learn or accept! Yet the more I resist, the more stuck I get.
The concept that life isn't fair, and that what goes around doesn't always come around, really pains me. As a Christian it challenges me to accept that nasty stuff happens to good people and good stuff happens to nasty folks.
Nigella Lawson said it very well when she said something along the lines of "Awful things can happen at any moment, so while they are not one might as well be pleased." Depending on your point of view that can either be encouraging or totally depressing. I do feel confused - and very frustrated, because until I sort this out in my own head I could potentially stay metaphysically stuck!! I think it truly must be a case of mind over matter - of clinging to that certainty that God is good and that the universe was made to support us, that "all things work together for good" and that our thoughts are the only things that can limit our potential. There is no limit to the abundance in the universe and the next great thing may only be around the next corner.
So the 21st Century Housewife© has to accept that it is okay for her to be happy and move forward, even if she is unable to help some of the important people in her life do that for themselves. So even if my Dad is having a bad day, it is okay for me to celebrate and enjoy myself, and it is not in bad taste to share my joy with him, even if he feels that it is. The only way out of this situation is through it, and the only way through is by changing my perspective and refusing to allow myself to feel responsible for other people's happiness. We are all responsible for our own happiness.
So, it is a gorgeous day outside, and I have just had a lovely pub lunch in the country with my favourite person. We are having a 24 hour test drive of a lovely little convertible which is sadly too small for all of us, but that is an awful lot of fun to borrow for a day - and that might even lead us on to a slightly larger model. My writer's block is gone, and everything is possible, there are no limits. Watch out world - The 21st Century Housewife© is back!