Saturday, May 21, 2016

My mother-in-law doesn't wear pants

My mother-in-law came to visit earlier this month, and we're wrapping up the three-week visit on Monday. She came out of her room the first morning with no pants, and I'm honestly not sure how to process that. I had a conversation with my wife about it to see if it is something we can talk about, but little has changed. The annoying part of no pants is the mole hill. The mountain is the baggage my wife has regarding her mother and the way that she handles that baggage.

My wife is an only child. Her mother had her when she was very young (16), and her mother was a pretty self-absorbed teenager, young woman, and now older woman. My wife's memories of her childhood vary greatly from her mother's memories of the same time period. It is obvious, while watching their interaction, that my wife spent much of her life mothering her mother. When my wife is around her mother, she gets stressed and snippy and bitchy. I can understand that; her mother drives me crazy, too.

The MIL has spent much of this visit complaining about my tea kettle, my cooking, and the fact that I'm not feeding my wife a diet of foods that are good for the immune system. Now, my MIL wasn't here for the first month of chemo, when I was just trying to get my wife to eat something - anything. Yes, this month's chemo has been much better, but I'm not forcing foods on my wife. She's an adult, and she'll eat what she wants to eat. If she requests something, I'm fixing it. If she hates the asparagus that she normally loves, I'm not pushing it. So - MIL and I have had a few respectful squibbles about food, about how we run our house, and the truths that I see in their relationship.

I don't think this visit has gone a long way in fixing the non-relationship we already had. I'm not letting my mother-in-law walk all over my wife, and I'm not letting her tell me how to run our lives. She's here for a visit; we're here for the long haul. And, I value, respect, and love my wife too much to let her mother make her feel any less than the amazing woman she is.

Wednesday, May 4, 2016

Taking care of me

I have a friend who checks in on me regularly and one of the questions she always asks is how I am taking care of myself. Honestly, I'm not the best at taking care of me. I power through things by working, which is why I seem to accomplish things so quickly. I've been known to work  in the middle of the night when I can't get back to sleep (in fact, just this week). When I find something that is simply too upsetting or overwhelming to deal with, I work. Down time has never been a good thing for me. Today, I am sitting at the cancer center while my wife has her second round of chemo. My mother-in-law is here and has spent much of the day with my wife, which has left me with very little to do. Guess what; the down time is driving me nuts. And, I left work yesterday caught up on the things that I can do without connecting with others. So, I'm trying to decide how best to take care of myself. I have a book to read, but reading doesn't appeal to me at the moment. It is a lovely day outside, and I've been on several short walks, but I don't want to be away for too long in case my wife needs me. In the grand scheme, today is a short day and I should be able to just chill. But, that isn't likely to happen. Beyond today, though, I need to figure out how I am going to take care of myself in the coming two weeks, when things are likely to spiral out of control for my wife. The next two weeks is when she will be her sickest and I will be her caretaker (she is coming around to that word now), and these are the moments that I need to care for me, too. The struggle to figure out what that looks like is real, and I'm certainly open to suggestions. The one thing I know is that I have to figure it out - soon; I think I just figured out what I need to work on today.