Right now, I am tired. I am sick of blogging. It’s 11:30 at night, I’m barely getting started. If I hear another word about defending the poor stay at home mom or how bad feminists are, I think I’m going to scream and start telling people what I think. The whole issue is a fraud. It’s fake. No, I’m not a mother, thank heavens! What I am, thought is a dutiful daughter.
We hear how wonderful stay at home moms are, but no one even mentions the poor woman who must give up much of her life and career to care for elderly parents. Sorry, but Ann Romney isn’t getting one bit of sympathy out of me. In fact, the way I see things, today, any woman who stays at home, doing the good little housewife mommy thing is a dupe. She is living in a fool’s paradise.
Approximately 15 months ago I was forced to put my life on hold to deal with reality. I had to deal with a reality that my stay at home mother never bothered facing. Why should she? She is amazing as a hostess, home-maker, and parent. Her parties are legendary. So are her culinary achievements. Back in South Carolina she created a magnificent 8000 square foot home, turning the 20 acre yard into an estate.
Like Ann Romney, she never “worked”. She volunteered as a nurse’s aid when she left high school. My grandfather did not think his socialite daughter needed to earn money. For free, she emptied bedpans, urinals, feed patients, and helped with in the worst wards of the hospital. She never considered it “work”. It was “volunteer”.
When she married my father, she stayed home, playing, taking care of their home, having a good time. When my sister came along, she had maids. She had a gardener. She never wanted for anything. She let my father take care of everything.
Fast forward 58 years. When they moved from South Carolina, at the insistence of both my sister and I, she downsized. The intention was to build a new home. Until then, they lived in this 3000 square foot 1958 era piece of shit house I detest to the point where I avoid it like the plague. She had 3 storage units, full of antiques. Included were 90 boxes of china and crystal, that sort of thing. For ten years, neither she nor my father would face reality of building or adding on to the piece of shit.
Seven years ago this month she went into cardiac failure. She is alive by the Grace of God. After that, they never did get around to finalizing plans for a house.
My mother frets. She fretted about her things in storage. Four years ago, a very dear friend died suddenly. Bonnie spent the last dozen years of her life in a condo, all of her things in storage. This ate at my mother to the point, where, in 2010 my father decided to build a storage building so she could get to her things.
The storage building evolved into a $100,000 white elephant. I kept asking her what was going on, but she said my father was having a good time, for the first time in his life. They started redecorating the house. She kept asking my father about the money put aside for building her new house. “We are fine,” he would tell her.
Unfortunately, they weren’t find.
A year ago, the first of March, I was confronted by the fact that my father had let a fortune slip through his fingers. We could not understand why. We couldn’t understand why tens of thousands of dollars of banking fees were being paid. Finally, in March, we were told that my father was suffering from dementia. A month later we were given the Alzheimer’s diagnosis.
My stay at home mother was utterly lost. Had she bothered with book work, balancing check books, keeping track of investments, and not trusting my father, she could have caught it. Repeatedly, I would ask about investments. I was told it was none of my business.
The past 7 years have been ones of constant health emergencies. I never get a full night’s sleep. The phone rings and I jump. My sister is in Memphis, where she owns two restaurants. She doesn’t have time to come out here and give me a break. We have had 5 medivacs to Las Cruces. She goes into the local ER at least every two months for a cardiac related issue.
I am told what a good person I am, but you know, that’s crap.
Once we received the diagnosis of Alzheimer’s, the race against the clock began. I had to learn how to deal with estates, trusts, realtors, bankers, attorneys, and their physicians. I had to learn about living wills and power of attorney. What sort of trust should they have? Forget writing. I’ve not touched my fashion book in 15 months. (I take that back, I’ve spent about 6 hours on it).
No, it’s not that bad. My mother still drives, but she has Macular Degeneration. She will be able to drive for another year or so. Her stress level, dealing with my father is through the roof. As a family, we’ve made the decision not to put him in a nursing home, unless he becomes violent.
I never know one day to the next what is going to happen. For the past 7 years, I’ve kept a suitcase partially packed. I keep a basket with supplies I need to maintain a basic “office” on the road. Those I can grab at a moment’s notice. We live day by day.
What I’ve learned this past year is that any woman who lives in the old fashioned 1950s mommy world, where she blithely allows her bread-winning spouse to take care of things is asking for trouble. Maybe not now, but one day, it’s all going to fall apart if she is not capable of being a business woman, manager, and can not only deal with an attorney, but intimidate a snotty banker. Susie Homemaker is asking for trouble if she does not learn how to take care of the portfolio, investments, banking, medical advances, and make the lousy credit card payments on time.
Then there is the Medicare and the insurance.
This is the reality that has been turned over to me, because my mother could never be bothered with such details. She had too much to do at home. Conservatives can make fun of feminists, deride and denigrate them all they want, but there is a bitter reality they faced – early on – taking care of themselves.
Life sucks. Very few women are as fortunate as my mother and Ann Romney. I do trust that Mrs. Romney has better control of the finances than my mother did. I’m not talking about shopping, and paying the bills, I’m taking about taxes, property taxes, and investments. I’m talking about things that once were a “man’s” thing.
This were women get the shaft in life. First a woman takes care of her children, raising them. She gets a break for a few years, during which menopause hits. And – it hits. Once you finally get over that, if you are lucky, your parents are elderly, still around and need you. I have no respect for a family who puts their elderly in a nursing home.
So, that’s life.
Just don’t expect any crocodile tears from me about the stay at home mom. She gets a hell of a lot more respect than those of us who are giving up a portion of our lives to deal with elderly parents.
And, no, I’m not complaining. But, it is why my blog is not finished for the day. I stood in Walgreens for 45 minutes, dealing with prescriptions. Then, I picked up a care package at KFC for my father. I drove 25 miles, one way, and back, to deliver these things to the parents. I did not have time to sit down and visit with my father, the way my mother wanted me to do. I had to get back to town (by 5:30) to finish my errands (7:30).
On Friday, we drive 125 miles, one way, to my mother’s cardiologist. That takes up the entire day. On Thursday, they come in for appointments. I do my hair. My entire day is shot so that we an go out for a late lunch. On Wednesday they will come in for additional medical appointments. I’ll meet them and that afternoon is shot.
That’s life. My mother gets upset because she thinks they are a burden. They are not. She has driven me crazy since I was in the 6th grade because she works so hard in the home, that she doesn’t take care of herself.
I am putting all of the medical and legal things I’ve learned into a book. Somehow I plan to have the final draft of my fashion book finished by July 1. The problem now is that the parents need to go visit my sister in Memphis. That’s going to take up two weeks.
Then there is the issue of their cell phones…. oye!
I pity the poor woman who falls for the anti-feminist crap put out by some misguided conservatives and the idiots at FOX news. Why not just stay barefoot and pregnant while you’re at it? If half of all marriages end in divorce, that means that Suzy Homemaker has a 50% chance of ending up divorced. What is she going to do then?
Life doesn’t work out the way we plan. Anyone who believes that is a fool. I pity the poor, good little woman who does what society wants her to do, the poor clueless creature is the one who is going to be screwed when her once loving hubby dumps her for some cute young chippie. Yes, I’m a cynic. There are no happily ever afters. Any woman who believes this still believes in fairy tales. There’s no reality in it.
There is nothing more incredible than a mom raising viable adults. But, there are other things in life that are just as important. Then again, I’m a cynic.
While we’re at it, what do you know about insurance, life insurance, health insurance, long term care insurance and home health care? Do you know how to find a viable care-giver for home care? Do you know how to do a back-ground check? If you use Hospice, do you live in an area where they are truly helpful or just another branch of the Hemlock Society?
Do you know about medical interactions? Do you have a good primary physician for your parents? How safe is their home? Do you have people you can call who can be at them in less than five minutes? Do they have a security system? What is crime like in their area?
Oh, and don’t think money is going to cushion you from this one. If your mother has nice jewelry, sterling, antiques, you have another problem – the honesty of help, nurses, and care givers. Do you know how to protect your elderly parents from predatory jerks who want nothing but their money and their property? How is their real estate listed? Are both names on the property? Do you have your name on their checking account. Do you have an attorney you can trust to build up a relationship just in case some horrible person steps in to take advantage of the parents?
Do you know the early signs of Alzheimer’s? It’s not mental, it’s physical.