Thems fightin’ words

“I’m never leaving this house. Not until they carry me out of it.”

My mother-in-law stood in the doorway, leaning on her cane, looking into the garage where we worked. She talked about her wonderful, kind neighbors (they are). She recalled how crafty and inventive my father-in-law had been (he was), using items in new ways long before recycling, upcycling and reclaiming became cool (he did). She lamented that he didn’t share things with her, his stories from the war, his childhood, his whatever (he didn’t). She was still learning things about him in the year since he passed. She continued talking and talking about stories I’ve heard a thousand times over.

We worked while she talked. I used to think it was rude, but we’d never get anything done if we stopped to chat. We were fixing up the garage — cleaned it from top to bottom, painted the walls, painted all of my father-in-law’s cabinets (formerly of the kitchen) that still hold his tools. Joe will patch and refinish the floor and then we’ll move on to our next big project – either at the house he grew up in or the house we live in. A 50+-year old house, 15-year old house – they both require work and we have two to take care of. She doesn’t understand that the reason we always seem so busy is because we’re pushing to get things done so we can go back to our own house, where there is also work to do. Sometimes to even relax in. She’s grateful for the work, don’t get me wrong, but she doesn’t seem to see her role in creating it.

After hearing my MIL’s comments, I realized my hope of her moving into a community where she can chat it up with other seniors, or a condo where she can continue to live with my sister-in-law without the yardwork, was mine alone.

I try very hard to put myself in her shoes, to see through her eyes. Rationally, I get why she wants to stay. I understand her wanting control. I understand that one day I will (hopefully) be old and have a son and daughter (and maybe even a son- and/or daughter-in-law) like she does who make sure I’m content, in a home that is well-cared-for. But…

I don’t get attached to houses. I’ve always been okay with change as my needs have changed. I know, God willing, I will want to move to something I can manage before life makes the choice for me.

But that’s not her. And not my parents either – different situation, but they don’t seem ready to downsize. I hope one day they do.

“I know this isn’t the time, but I’d really like to redo the basement bathroom…when you get to it.”

I just kept on painting.



Spring fever

When I re-started blogging in January I decided I wouldn’t put pressure on myself to post at any specific frequency. My goal is to post once a week and, for the most part, I’ve been able to do that. I’d also like to write compelling, funny, relevant and/or thought-provoking posts, but who am I kidding? This is a personal blog about my midlife mayhem (a fine reality TV show title)! I think up ideas all the time, but some are just downright inane when compared to what’s happening in the world today.

But I suspect you don’t you come here expecting hard news and careful introspection, so here’s a round-up of my last two weeks:

Garage sale madness continued, then not.

Remember the mega sale in April? No? Well, I do and not just because I’m scarred for life from the experience of hauling in and hauling out, storing and sorting family wares for 2 years. They talk about house remodeling sending people to the brink of divorce? Prepping for a garage sale comes close to that. Anyway, I’ll always remember the sale because we made $500 for us and another $100 that went back to family members. Woohoo! Last weekend we decided to try and unload even more at a local “Junk in Your Trunk” sale. These are like flea markets and popular in the UK (called “car boot sales”). We made another $75 and then donated the remaining items to Goodwill. I don’t have the stomach to do this each year — and I hope we never have that much stuff again — but it boosted our vacation fund AND helped to clean out my mother-in-law’s and our house. Bonus: Our neighbors can stop thinking we’re the Clampets moving stuff in and out of our house all the time.

Oh, mother.

Oh, brother. I’ve wanted to write about recent experiences with my mother and mother-in-law – after all, part of my return to blogging was to connect with other members of the “sandwich generation” – but it’s just not my place to write about it in detail. Suffice it to say, I’m worried about each of them and, if I’m being honest with myself, about how their decisions are impacting or will impact my life. Welcome, guilt-ridden Sandwich Member! I’ll leave this topic for now, but will share more later. This weighs on my mind.

I am writing, then not, then I am, then not, then…

Decided I need to buckle down on this. (Again. And again.) After all, now that I’m focusing back on what’s in front of me and no longer busting my ass looking for “other opportunities” I can devote energy to what I enjoy, including writing. I spent time last week writing a query/pitch to collaborate on a book with an independent publisher. I’ve also drafted an essay to submit for an anthology. I, of course, think I’m wonderfully qualified for both of these opportunities. Others may not, but you have to be in it to win it. P.S. Notes, ideas, images for my novel continue to bounce around in my head. I’m hoping they’ll make it to paper this summer. Which brings me to…

Ready for summer “vacation” more than the kids.

Like T-Rex, I’m burned out from the school year and have been suffering from spring fever. This week we spent three long nights at wonderful-but-long school concerts and events – did I mention they were long? We’re finishing up taekwondo lessons next week before taking a break for the summer. (The kids protested at first, but I think they’re so pooped out now they don’t mind.) I’m so ready for summer: we’ll go biking, swim, relax, run around camp…

Oh, wait, I still have to go to work every day! Well, I’m still looking forward to the all that fun crammed into evening hours before 9 p.m. and weekends. Yep, can’t wait for that relaxing, “unscheduled” time.

How about you?