As I sit here whipping up a batch of sweet potato brownies – ACK, I know…but I’m trying to create recipes that are more healthy than not, I realize….I’ve been away from Friday Debrief for a while. A long while. I even changed my Instagram bio to lazy blogger. Maybe I should have changed it to non-existent blogger, but my glass is usually half-full. Part of the reason was a little chip that developed on my shoulder because I had previously held a space on a national blogging platform with a huge footprint and they changed their strategy and my along with all but a handful of others’ content was purged from The Internets. It was some of my best stuff. According to me. I write for therapy and that period of time was very therapeutic.
Crap! It was another challenging year. Not related to the case of the missing content above.
A little over a year ago I was diagnosed with the same genetic heart condition that my dad had, spent time in the hospital, did cardiac rehab, got a device implanted in my chest and have been trying to find my way back ever since. People assume that if you’re not a size two, that your arteries are clogged with Cheetos, but mine are clean as a whistle, so stop asking me about that. It’s genetic dammit, leave me alone. LOL! A little sensitive about that. Anyway, as my daughter likes to say….
In addition to continuing to work full-time, be a caregiver to my husband and guide to my daughter who is navigating the waters of her high school senior year, I have been battling internal demons. Probably mostly in my head, but mortality is on my mind. A lot. Way too much. I’ve spent way too much time during the last year contemplating nuggets of wisdom (à la The Last Lecture) I would want to leave my daughter with if I met my maker way earlier than anyone should. My dad was 60 for goodness sake. In addition to that, it seems like every activity of your child’s senior year is an event – – the last football game, the last spirit week, the last chicken roll up mom packs under a full moon on the last Thursday of the month. You get it. Lots of big stuff happening, and it all seems very final.
But I have to get out of my own head and just live. Minute by minute, day by day, for as long as I have. A few months ago, I made the decision to stop saying no. I have had to say no to too many opportunities and activities for more years than I will admit because of the fact that I am a caregiver. I can’t pick up and go without an extreme amount of planning. I have to hire a caregiver, trust that they won’t steal from me or neglect my spouse (at least I currently have a couple great ones!), pony up the $$$$$ to pay the caregiver and attempt to have all of my ducks in a row before I leave the house. It basically sucks. Plus, my ducks are never in a row. They are in the most zig-zagged configuration you will ever see. Don’t get me wrong – it sucks for my husband, too. In my quest to stop saying no to myself so often, I have to block from my mind the fact that he can’t participate in these activities and that must be gut-wrenchingly painful for him. That makes me sad.
I started with my class reunion. I have only been to one in the entire, ahem, thirty years since I have graduated from high school. I committed to my high school bestie, made arrangements to have things cared for on the home front and hit the road. I laughed, a lot. I caught up, with people I haven’t seen in 30 years. I danced like nobody was watching, but unfortunately they were. And it was awesome!
In my quest to look out for myself a little bit more, I made plans for another respite weekend. My mom has been wanting to go to Mackinac Island with me for the last (at least) 15 years and neither of us could commit because she was a caregiver for years and I have been a caregiver for years.
Well, guess what? I made the reservation, hired the caregivers to take care of the home front, told her to pack her lipstick and leopard-spotted bags and we went to the island for a fall weekend color tour. And it was fabulous. So fabulous that she cries when she calls to tell me how much she enjoyed it and she framed a napkin from the Grand Hotel and put it in her living room to remember. Remember the weekend we stopped putting ourselves last. It also just so happened to fall exactly a year after my heart surgery.
We laughed, we ate chocolate covered strawberries and crustless cucumber sandwiches and drank champagne in a room that I would probably never leave if it was my bedroom.
During the road trip, my daughter wrapped up in a blanket in the backseat, listened to music and sang. I won’t get many more times like that with her. As someone reminded me recently, my job is to get her ready to leave the nest. Yet, it sure is awesome to be a voyeur for those little moments of her “just being” before she leaves.
So from now on, I am going to do my best to think of myself in addition to others. I will paint my fingernails blue if I want to.
I will wear leopard and pink glasses if I want to.
I’ll drink iced coffee out of my Gladys Friday glass on a Saturday if I want to.
I will continue to coach my daughter through the last few months before official adulthood and beyond….
….and I will sing Big Pimpin’ at the top of my lungs when I roll out in my minivan whenever I damn well please!
Until the next time….