Friday, 19 December 2014

Being busy

I’ve been busy. Flat-out busy. And without any free time at weekends, it’s been hard keeping up with Mum. We still had our Saturdays and I tried to reframe them as a break. A change is supposed to be as good as a rest but it didn't really work.

Each Saturday things started out OK but after a couple of hours I’d be antsy and worrying about all the things I wasn’t doing. By the 5 p.m dinner deadline, when we took Mum back to the rest home, I’d be exhausted just from keeping up the charade.

I swear Mum could tell. Her empathy radar is highly sensitive.
Problem was, I didn't want not to do it - I just didn't have the time.

In rest homes, despite everyone's best efforts, time hangs heavy. And weekends can be deadly, especially if you don't have someone to take you out. The enthusiastic recreation officer is away and the always-up-for-a-chat receptionist is off duty. On Saturdays, the envy from the stay-home residents, as Mum and I breeze out across the main lounge and through the door, is palpable. Mum feels bad for them too.

The other problem is that lately, Mum’s been fretting about taking up my time. Not wanting to be any trouble had become a constant theme, even before my life got full-on busy.

Work-life balance is an interesting concept. As far as Mum’s concerned, work should happen between the hours of eight and five, Monday to Friday. Broken up by tea breaks, morning and afternoon, plus a good hour for lunch. Unless you’re a farmer, which I’m not.

So she tells me I shouldn't work weekends, that I should stick to my hours and she reminds me how the Labour Party fought for the 40 hour week.

For me, the problem’s not trying to balance work with the rest of my life, it’s about finding ways to doing a good enough job with all the things that matter. It’s about Mum and me both feeling OK.

When I’m stuck about what to do with Mum, I try to imagine what her advice would have been before Alzheimers Disease stuffed things up. “For heaven’s sake,” she would have said, “Get someone else to take your mother out!”

A couple of weeks back, I delegated the Saturday visit to Mr Sixteen. He happily escorted his grandmother to their favourite cafe for afternoon tea. By all accounts they had an excellent time and Mum has no recollection that I wasn't there.

Why I didn’t arrange that, three weeks in a row, I can’t imagine.

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