“I don’t think this new caregiver is going to work out. She is meeting a man she met online.” I am patiently listening to my mother as she is telling me this. When she finishes, I say, “And, what does that have to do with her being your caregiver?” “It makes me uncomfortable that she dates strange men that she meets on the internet.” So, this is the conversation that I am having with my 86-year old mother. My fallback is “unless she is beating you or starving you, we are keeping her.” My mother doesn’t see my humor. It took us three weeks to find the perfect match. I am not kidding when I say that I felt like I was on a dating site when searching for the ideal candidate.
My patience with my mother has improved. I know that she is anxious and stressed over the Hurricane – since my sister and her family were in the thick of the conditions – and the fact that in less than a week my spouse and I are leaving the country. Her fear level is at an all-time high. In my head, I am screaming all kinds of colorful semantics, but what is coming out of my mouth is loving. This is a big switch as she can test me like no one’s business. If I can come out of a conversation with her and my head hasn’t spun off or my eyeballs haven’t popped out of the sockets from rolling so much, then it is a win in my book.
The lesson here is that I am powerless. I am powerless over my mother’s fear, Brian’s eating habits (he ate a chili cheese dog at 10 am on Sunday), weather, my boy’s and their rooms which smell like locker rooms with a dash of rotting corpse, and well, everything. When I can grasp that concept and focus on me, then I am so much happier. And, guess what? The people around me are happier because I am not trying to control their lives.
When Bailey was four, he was anxiously awaiting his ice cream that would only come when my mother had finished her dinner. So, he promptly told my mother to, “Focus, focus, focus” thinking that would help her eat faster. Now, when my attention veers off course to someone else, I hear him in my head telling me to focus. That “focus, focus, focus” is a reminder to keep the attention on myself. Everyone else is on their own.