In the latter half of this past June my mom had surgery on her shoulder. It effectively disabled her arm and even as the muscle has healed, at this point she still can’t lift anything of consequence, can’t move the arm quickly or with the full range of motion that the other still has. Early on it meant I was waiting on her, hand and foot, as she spent her days and nights largely on the recliner in the TV room. Now she’s back teaching her second grade class and I’m primarily on the hook for making sure dinner is ready at a reasonable time.
I think I worked out that moms get a raw deal compared to dads when I was all of 12 years old. They have to be the ones that shout “no!” when kids are naughty. They enforce TV, snacking, homework and bedtime rules. Etc… At least that was the case in the house I grew up in and carried across most households of my classmates. The only exceptions I knew of were when grandmothers did all the housework and disciplinary effort.
That’s pretty much the point when I decided that if I couldn’t be a dad then I didn’t want to be a parent. My dad’s pancakes were better than my mom’s. He made lunch over the summer (my mom was an office administrator then while my dad taught junior high geography and history), and it was usually Chef Boyardee raviolis with chopped up hot dogs. To the best of my recollection, he never – ever – made dinner. When we misbehaved my dad would complain to my mom.
All in all, the job of dad seemed way less stressful. And I was, even back then, able to note that it also meant it was easier to get along with him and have fun with him. Not so much with mom. Classmates always loved their dads and called them cool. Moms were not always hated, but commonly complained about.
It’s been over 20 years since I decided I didn’t want to be a mom. And being the substitute mom has done nothing but reinforce that. I already felt sympathy for my mom, and a little bit of frustration at her submission to her role. Now I’m actively aggravated at my adult siblings – and my dad – for taking her work for granted. They don’t support, they expect, and they are frequently rude about it all.
I’m fairly impatient with the whole process. As long as I’ve lived here my evenings have been almost totally random. I never knew quite when I was going to have to drop whatever I was doing to help with dinner, usually doing small chores. So getting in my way now when I’ve finally gotten around to cooking – and doing all the necessary prep and cleaning – typically gets a snarl out of me.
It’s not that it’s a big deal to do the chores, or even making dinner, it’s that as a night owl I’m often hitting my stride in terms of productivity in the evening. And also that as an adult, surrounded by adults, I expect the others will be able to either fend for themselves or leave me a cleaner kitchen. Cooking for myself or for several people doesn’t make the biggest difference, but I do have to do it at a common dinner time, rather than when I’m actually hungry.
Of course, friends have long known that left to my own devices I often forget to eat until I’m almost crippled by hunger pangs.
Anyway. I have more of my days to myself, but evenings are not mine. That goes from roughly 6pm till midnight, give or take cleaning the kitchen, and when the family finally settles down. Even when I’m not making dinner I still am expected to eat with everyone as well as praying the rosary later on at night. This isn’t a complaint, really, but it’s also not my favorite part about living here.
I like getting work done after midnight. The house is usually settled and quiet. But it can still be tough if the work is voice recording. That primarily has to do with the fact that my room is not great for recording. When I have recording to do, I try to get into my parent’s closet, the only walk-in in the house. Of course I can’t get in there in the middle of the night.
I frequently complain about sleeping. I really am resentful about the multi-hour pause I have to put on every single day. It’s hard for me to think about it any other way. I have a lot I want to do, I don’t have a lot of time every day for it, but I have to give over a solid eight hours for sleeping?! I’m not kidding. I wish I could skip it without any of the consequences.
So… this summer has been trying to fight for the time to do the work I want to do and doing the work that needs to be done and growling about circumstances that I can’t avoid.