You know that tired old cliché about the middle-aged spinster living alone with two cats? Yup, that’s me. Although if someone had ever called me a “spinster”, I’d have laughed in their face as I rushed past them on the way to the airport. I’m single by choice, I enjoy my own company, I love to travel, and I’m rarely lonely.
When it was time for one of us five children to step up to the plate and care for Mom and Dad, I kinda knew it would be me. As a contract writer, I’m not tied into working for one client or one company. I have no partner and I’m child-free. And as of this spring (sadly) even the cats are gone. My only hesitation at the outset of this caregiving journey was that I was planning to move out to the west coast… and I had to put those plans on hold.
So I was surprised when, about a year into caregiving, I found myself dealing with a lot of negative feelings. If I tried to pin it down, it seemed tied into the neighbourhood where my parents live, and to which I moved in order to be next to them. The people were dull and stupid. The retailers were slow and inefficient. The cashiers were rude and impatient. The drivers were aggressive and inconsiderate. The health care providers? Don’t get me started!
Wherever you go, there you are…
I could write a book on old clichés; they endure because we really are that predictable. And I’ve always loved this one. Which is probably why, deep in meditation one morning, it hit me. This is where I am now. This is my life. Why was I walking around acting as if it wasn’t? Why was I living each day as if it was a big experiment that I could easily opt out of and exit?
Aha. I was resenting my decision to become a caregiver. And (not wanting to admit that to myself) I was redirecting my resentment to another target; an easier one to dismiss. Because I could tell myself “This is just temporary. When you move out to the west coast, you’ll be living with people who speak your language and love nature and are healthier and happier!” Oh, the illusions we cling to. And what’s a day without a rationalization?
I wouldn’t even be here if it weren’t for my parents.
Both my parents devoted their entire lives to raising five children. My father came from poverty, and worked hard to bring our family into a middle-class lifestyle. My mother married him at the age of 19 and went through five pregnancies as she followed him through many jobs and several homes, providing the nurturing and attention we children needed, one after the other. Five children… who are now five adults with full, happy, healthy lives as a result.
And me? One daughter who has the freedom to do whatever she wants, because her parents encouraged her to go out into the world and make a difference. One daughter who has had an incredibly fascinating and fulfilling life, and who is still chasing moonbeams and discovering magic at the age of 60. One daughter who, if it weren’t for these amazing parents, probably wouldn’t have reached middle age.
The beauty of awareness is that it allows you to let go. Once I was aware of my resentment, it completely disappeared. I’m here. Right now. For my parents.
“You don’t drown by falling in the water. You drown by staying there.”
– Edwin Louis Cole