2005-03-31, 1:19 p.m.
"So, you are going to come home this weekend, right?" she said in a small voice.
"Yes," I said, kind of exasperated. "You begged me to, didn't you?"
"I need so much help. This place really needs to be cleaned..."
(Note: right before this she had been berating me for not keeping my place neat and tidy, AGAIN, and saying that she wouldn't buy me any birthday presents if I wasn't going to "take care of them," and I said fine then, don't, I didn't actually expect you were going to after how last Christmas went anyway. This actually kind of shut her up for about a minute.)
"I know. I know. Even thought I'm horrible at cleaning and you're just going to yell at me all weekend long for how badly I clean."
"I really need to go through all of those papers..."
"Mom," I said, even more exasperatedly, "if all you want to do is spend the weekend going through your papers, which I CAN'T HELP YOU WITH because you insist on reading them all first and you're slow, and by the end of the weekend absolutely nothing has gotten done because you were reading papers, I'm going to reconsider this coming home every damn weekend I possibly can for the next month and a half thing. Because obviously I won't be helping you and I do have other things I could be doing here."
I put my foot down, but I know damn well it won't do any good. Never does. Between the screaming and the crying, I'll be guilted into coming every possible time even if it's utterly pointless and all I am is a target to yell at. Because if I don't, I am a BAD BAD BAD BAD PERSON.
In e-mail the other day I told my friend Jackie what I'd be stuck doing and she was all, why the hell are you doing this? I said that when there's no one else, what am I supposed to do? What kind of a shitty horrible person would I be to not help her if I possibly could, to say no just because I don't want to go and help? (I'm such an asshole- I'll help anyone BUT a parent voluntarily and happily. If it's family, I become a snotty bitch.) If I didn't go and help, I'd deserve to be dragged out into the street and shot.
I figured she'd agree with me. She is the "strict Christian" of my friends, after all. But...nope. She was all, "You're too hard on yourself, you go above and beyond, and you need more time for yourself."
Hah. "Time for myself"... that's why I live an hour and a half away from the parents, so I have four days a week guaranteed to be "time for myself."
I don't agree with her that I'm too hard on myself. I don't think I'm nearly hard enough. Seriously, I do think most people think I'm an asshole for how I mishandle the situation. If, say, I wrote to the Smart and Sassy ladies (to pick an example) with a whiny letter along the lines of this situation, you know what they'd do? They'd smack me so hard my head would spin around like the Exorcist girl. (Yes, really. You don't know how much this one haunts me.) And I'd deserve it. Because you know what? THAT'S WHAT WOMEN DO. You suck it up and you TAKE CARE OF with a perky smile on your face and no resentment whatsoever.
And hopefully, you stop wishing that your mother would crash the car on the way home on Sunday nights, because with your luck it'd go all Ethan Frome and only your mother would die, and then YOU'D have to be the official caretaker instead of the pathetic assistant.
On a similar but different note, I've been fascinated with Ayelet Waldman lately. I first read her "Bad Mother" blog, because I love and am attracted to reading mothers who admit that they're not perfect, such as Stef and chicagowench. (And chicagowench's URL is the most fabulous thing.) Plus she's rather a nutter, which God knows I always find interesting until they hit what I call "crazy level 2" (i.e. living in another reality).
But in recent weeks, Ayelet (a) gave up blogging, and (b) started publishing in Salon, and in the NYT, and (c) caused major fucking scandal with every piece she wrote. She's admitted to having an abortion. She wrote a blog entry on suicide that freaked her family out. She said she hopes she has a gay son (but not a gay daughter) someday because she wants a shopping buddy and a kid who won't drift away from her. And the most scandalous of all, she wrote that she and her husband have a really hot sex life and she loves him more than she does her children.
For that one alone, I think a lot of people would just have her dragged out and shot. You don't fucking say that your almighty children aren't as beloved to you as your husband, period. Not in today's "Cult of the Child" culture.
She admits that she's a bad mother. A good wife, but a bad mother.
Ayelet and Michael have been compared to Angelina and Billy Bob, but truth be told, I think she's more of an Elizabeth Wurtzel. Angelina just did wacky things, but Elizabeth's the girl who says the horrible things nobody wants to hear. As does Ayelet- she admits to her demons, her preferences, and her nasty little thoughts. Castigate her for what she thinks and says, castigate her for saying she wants nookie, castigate her for the things her kids are going to read (or already have read) and that will traumatize them for life- but you can't deny the girl's got ovaries for telling the truth about how she feels, and not necessarily being ashamed about it either. Maybe one needs to be bipolar to be that blunt about things, I don't know.
I'm pretty blunt about my feelings and how much of an asshole I am here. And well, to most people as well. God knows I'm always telling my mother I'm an asshole. In turn she yells at me not to say such things, but why? We all know it's true. Why lie and pretend that I'm a nice person through and through? Mine are the kinds of feelings that prompt people to do the Post Secret thing, only unlike them, I just admit it to everyone to their faces. Does this make me bipolar? Or just warped?
I've always been pretty clear on what I actually do.
Of course, the boys have always begged that I do this:
Or at the very least:
But given the longevity of my boyfriends, I absolutely won't put one of them first. It won't happen. I'm not putting all of my eggs into his basket and then having him turn my basket over and run off. I finally learned the lesson of "boys don't last."
What I should do, since the parents have proven loyalty to me many more times than boys have, and because I owe them so much, is this:
I keep trying to get myself to change my priorities all the damn time. This is my theme song: "You beat yourself up to bring yourself down." That's my goal. If I finally manage to beat myself up enough so that I can't recover enough to be all selfish and "mememe" again, THEN I can finally be a good person and be what they want.
Here I go again.
I'm not good enough, and I'll never be good enough. Not until I make the ultimate sacrifice. Not until I give up my life and go move home so I can help take care of Dad. I know I should do it, since god knows Dad needs help and Mom absolutely won't get outside help for any goddamned reason, it seems. I can't get a job there, so she'd have to put me up as an untrained and near-useless nurse, but at least she wouldn't worry 24/7 that he's been left alone.
I'm not good enough, and I'll never be good enough. Not until I make the ultimate sacrifice. Not until I give up my will and become the perfect subservient combination of maid and nurse. Not until I can take care of his most disgusting bodily functions with a smile and cheerfulness and no resentment.
Nothing less is acceptable or okay. It's the necessary ideal. You can't be resentful and bitchy and snotty and mean to someone who's handicapped and "can't help it." You have to give up your life for theirs. After all, in a few years' time, you can have yours back. They never can and never will. They desperately need you. How can you be so horrible as to deny a dying person's wishes? Can't you make that sacrifice for them?
You can't take "time for yourself," no matter how much people advise you to and send you the Caretaker's Bill of Rights. Which in a way are completely impossible for you to pay attention to anyway.
* If you take time for yourself, something bad may very well happen to the sick person (and in our case, probably will). You can't leave them alone, and who's going to babysit?
You get the drift of how it goes, eh? Boy, is THAT ever a fun mindset to get into.
Can anyone tell so far that I went to a talk on caregivers today? One of those "we're trying to save our employees's sanity, here's some resources" kinds of things.
Much to my surprise, I was NOT the only one under 40 in the room. There was a guy there maybe around my age. Heck, there were a whopping two guys in there. Plus one of my coworkers, who I ended up venting with afterwards because she's in a similar "I'm long-distance and bloody hell if I know what to do, I don't know the resources where the person lives" situation.
I didn't know there was a term for what I am (besides "useless", hah) in this situation, but right off the chick giving the talk asked, "How many people here are long-distance caregivers?" So that's what I am. Or "secondary caregiver."
Most of the list of resources were obviously local ones, which didn't help for the third of us (a third of us are long-distance?), but it was plugged that there's a caretaker support group on campus that meets at lunch and there's still open spaces, if one meets with the facilitator first. So when I got back here, I sucked it up and called them, listening-in coworkers be damned, and made an appointment for tomorrow morning. It'd be weekly and I could be with people who get it's like, anyway. That's assuming I get in and qualify since I'm long-distance, but we'll see tomorrow.
And I'm handing Mom the packet of papers I got on Friday. We'll see if that helps anything either.