It’s been ages since I’ve blogged, and I’ve really missed it! But, I intend to do something about it. Life has been a real whirlwind lately. Perhaps the biggest change is that my parents have moved in with us.
Having my parents move in with us was not anyone’s first choice for them. This occurred out of neccessity. Life the way we all know it has made it nearly impossible for my parents to live on their own. The rising cost of medical care and medications had nearly bankrupted them and the best solution we could come up with was to live together as one big family.
As we planned for the big move, there was the issue of selling their home…my childhood home. As much as Mom and Dad were praying that the house would sell was just as much as my husband and I were praying it wouldn’t sell. I knew that David wasn’t crazy about the idea of us all living under one roof, but we had a plan in place. There would be an in-law suite built on to our house.
Time went by. The house didn’t sell and didn’t sell. Mom and Dad were getting desperate and changed realtors. The price of the house was dropped. This would mean no addition could be added to our home (after all, it was depending on the sale of their house to get the addition added to ours). I assumed the whole idea was shot down the drain at that point and Dave and I were off the hook. They would not be moving in. I was wrong.
Hurricane Sandy blew through during the midst of this and we found ourselves hosting unexpected house guests, Mom and Dad for just over a week until their power was restored. During this time, our eyes were opened. Mom couldn’t care for Dad any longer by herself, and Dad looked as though he were headed for a nursing home and soon. It was at the end of that week that Dad became ill and was taken to the hospital, where (long story short) he eventually was diagnosed with Parkinson’s Disease. Medication was started and things improved with him. Dave and I thought we had dodged the bullet again.
With Dad’s new medications, he fell into the “donut hole” for Medicare a whole lot sooner and the price of having to pay for meds out of pocket wiped out what little money Mom and Dad had left. They took the house off the market for a while and tried to sell it themselves.
One evening, my mother called me in tears. “Would you please consider letting us move in with you? We have nothing left and we can’t keep asking the church for help.” Being an only child, I realized there was no other choice. I broke the news to David.
David was so supportive. I spent nearly every night crying. I had remembered what it was like living with Mom and Dad as a young adult and it wasn’t easy. Memories of why I moved out at age 25 began to return. Each night, I mourned the impending loss of my life as I knew it.
There were meetings and discussions and agreements made. Their house was put back on the market with the price reduced yet again.
One day at work, my phone rang…an outside call. “Ready for some permanent house guests?” my mother asked. They had a buyer for the house. I tried to sound happy and excited for her as she spilled out the details. I listened numbly as I began to think how I would break this news to David and Katie. I tried to think of the positives of this move and began to pray that the positives would outweigh the negatives.
That was the end of May. By the end of June, Mom and Dad had public sale and had moved in with us. Here we were, five people living under one roof, ranging in age from age 11 to 71. The final moving day was emotional for me. We were so worried that Dad would be the one who would be emotional, but it was me. As the last truck began to pull out from my old home place, I began to cry. I would never be able to “go home” again and my home was no longer just my home. My whole world was changing in a moment. What were we getting into? Time would tell.
The first week went smoothly. Dave and I thought, “if this is any indication how things will be, this will be easy.” Then, everyone got settled.
It started with little jabs about boxes sitting around and no where to put them. Little complaints about not having enough space. A spat between grandparents and grandchild over who got to watch what on TV. Expectations of who was going to cook and when unfulfilled. Housekeeping taken care of only in areas where they were residing and not touching other areas. Dividing out food in cupboards and the refrigerator as “yours” and “ours.” Bills coming in that Dave and I didn’t have funds to cover and not getting any help with common household expenses. Going from a family of three to a family of five makes a huge impact on a grocery bill, electric bill and what is deemed as personal space.
Fortunately, we had thought ahead to move Katie to the basement. She has a wonderful new purple room that is her sanctuary…a place of escape when the nonverbal passive agressive barbs are being hurled.
I thought this was the right thing to do. I Timothy 5:8 tells us: “But if anyone does not provide for his relatives, and especially for members of his household, he has denied the faith and is worse than an unbeliever.” We were doing what the Bible said. Then why does it feel so bad?
No one told me it would be easy. In fact, there were several that said they didn’t know how we’d do it. Many have said they are praying for us (thank goodness!). No one told me I’d feel like I was 6-years-old again, or that I would feel like I have no control in my own house, or that I would have to make supper every night despite the fact that I’m working full-time and my mother isn’t working at all, or that we would get little to no help with the daily household expenses such as food, electric, etc. No one told me that I’d find myself retreating to my room with my husband just so I can talk about the latest thing my parents have done. No one told me that I’d see my mother roll her eyes every time my daughter does something she deems “inappropriate,” or that her doing that would infuriate me to a near rage. No one told me that I’d have a desire to get to work each day just to get out of the house and that I would not want to return home in the evenings just because I can’t take the stress of it all. No one told me that I’d feel like this was the biggest mistake we’d ever made.
I feel like a terrible daughter. I do love my parents, I just feel like we were never meant to live together. We are very different from each other and it shows…now more than ever. I feel like I’ve turned into some sort of raving lunatic, a beast, a evil villan for feeling this way.
But, I have learned that the “savage beast” can be calmed. I’ve learned that talking about my frustrations with others gets me advice, sympathy, prayers. I’ve learned to accept invitations to go out to dinner or visit a friend. I’ve learned to take advantage of every moment when Dave, Katie and I can be the family we used to be. I’ve also remembered that I love to read, I love to listen to music, I love to write, and I love photography. These four things have been a big part of my life lately. They take me away from the stress and yet allow me to keep close to my husband and daughter.
What’s done is done and there’s no turning back now. I just pray things improve and we learn to get along with each other and learn to have a little more give and take. As I write, I hear my dad snoring in his recliner in their bedroom, but I smile knowing that I have my own little retreat in my bedroom where I can escape from the sound. It will get better…it has to.
Paul said it well in Ephesians 4:1b-3 – I urge you to live a life worthy of the calling you have received. 2 Be completely humble and gentle; be patient, bearing with one another in love. 3 Make every effort to keep the unity of the Spirit through the bond of peace. This is my calling. I need to be patient, keep the peace and bear with the difficulties as they come, all while doing this in love. It won’t be easy, but it’s the right thing to do.
Praying for patience! (Yeah, I know…you’re not supposed to do that!)