Looking Back, Looking Forward

2015 was the most difficult year of my life.

That’s saying something. It’s been harder than the year my father died. It’s been harder than the year I got divorced. It’s been harder than the year our house burned up and Jason lost his job. 

I feel like I have had to be the bad guy most of this year. Tyler has struggled mightily with personal responsibility this semester, and our relationship is somewhat strained. I love him, but some days I find it hard to like him.

My mother tells me Tyler behaves this way because “he comes from a broken home.”

Which brings me to my mother.

I became her primary caregiver in May, and I’ve been her crutch and punching bag since then. She has never been a warm and fuzzy person, especially where I am concerned. She is intensely, weirdly secretive. The first thing she said when she found out she had a brain tumor was, “Don’t tell anyone.” 

She is angry about her situation, understandably so, but in her mind it’s my fault. I forced her from her home, I took away her checkbook, I destroyed her independence. She lashes out at me; she accuses me of stealing from her. She starts almost every phone call with, “Do you have my wallet?” She says I am throwing my brother to the wolves, because I put him on an allowance instead of continuing to let him live off of her. I’m the bad guy.

Because she was so private, learning to manage her household has involved an almost-vertical learning curve. I just now feel like I have a handle on it, and yet every week seems to bring some new minor emergency. 

To sum up, 2015 has left me emotionally exhausted and cranky as hell. 

2016 has to be better. Right? Let’s look forward.

My resolution for 2016 is to be more appreciative, and to demonstrate that appreciation. A small example occurred a couple of weeks ago, when a neighbor up the street repainted their front door an awesome shade of teal. I wrote them a note applauding their bold color choice and left it in their mailbox. It was such a simple thing to do. Last week I congratulated a woman at Publix for constructing a particularly delicious-looking custom sub. It seems silly and small, but over the last seven months the simple, small, silly kindnesses have made the biggest positive impact in my life. 

Happy New Year.


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4 responses to “Looking Back, Looking Forward

  1. I’ve been a caretaker for my mother. The last 9 months of her life when she was in hospice for dementia were exhausting. She only trusted me with her finances because she’d broken her hip a few years before and realized that not having me on her checking and savings account could be a problem. Before that, there were four or five years of alternating questioning me on every expenditure -including my own- when she moved in with me after her home was destroyed in a hurricane. I ended up buying the stuff she needed like adult pull ups and Ensure with my own money because reimbursement wasn’t worth the conflict. In front of others she was sweetness and light. Privately, she was verbally abusive. That let up a bit after she broke her hip but it came out now and again when she was in hospice. I was working full-time during all this and my supervisors weren’t very understanding. I say this to let you know that I know the depth of your frustration. I wish I could save a magic wand and make it all right. It’s a hard job.

  2. Tony

    I can relate, too. I won’t go into it here, but at least my wife keeps reminding me who I am, which is difficult to remember on the days when giving up feels like the right decision. God bless you, and Happy New Year. Here’s to a better 2016.

  3. Lisa

    I think your resolution for this year is a great one! Finding small happy moments can really help our day to day lives. To notice something every day that can make you smile is a great blessing. Here’s wishing you a happier 2016!!

  4. Pingback: Looking Back, Looking Forward | House Blend

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