Feeling Settled

18 Aug

I’m not even sixty yet, but lately I’ve experienced a weariness that reminds me of how I felt after giving birth. It’s my own fault—I spend way too much time worrying about other people’s problems—mostly those of my elderly mother and my four grown children. I have this ridiculous habit of immediately making other people’s problems my own.

The other day, I mentioned to my daughter that I must be a serious empath, and she gave me a look. You know that look—where your kid thinks they know more than you?

“Mom,” she said, looking me squarely in the eye, “Maybe you’re not really an empath. Maybe you’ve just spent your whole life thinking that it’s your job to fix everyone.”

Woah. My kids are definitely smarter than I am.

Growing up in a dysfunctional alcoholic family, I honed my role as middle daughter/worrywart/peacemaker at an early age. On my little shoulders, I carried the blame for the chaos and drama that permeated our family, thinking that if I did everything right, I could fix it—and life would finally feel settled.

Settled. What does that even mean?

My eighty-five year-old mother (who lives with us) recently spent three weeks in the hospital for a massive abdominal infection caused by diverticulitis. She had to have major surgery, and for a time we were worried she wasn’t going to make it. Coupled with the stress of possibly losing my mom, I had to take care of her three Dalmatians. In the flurry of getting Mom the care she needed, she neglected to tell me that her thirteen year-old Dal, Fiona, was supposed to be taking daily medication for arthritis pain. Seeing the rapid rate at which Fiona declined, I seriously thought I was going to have to call the vet to come put her down. Imagine having to tell your mother that her precious dog died while she was in the hospital! Eventually we figured it all out, and with her meds, Fiona is back to her old self.

“Okay,” I thought, “Fiona is good—now things will settle down.”

The day we went to the hospital to pick Mom up and bring her home, I was optimistic that we had made it through the hard part. But no. Ready to leave, with of her belongings stuffed into plastic bags, Mom began vomiting. It turned out that her intestines were not functioning properly (a common hiccup that occurs early on with this type of surgery, but Mom’s symptoms came much later in the process.) She ended up staying another four days in the hospital.

Definitely not settled.

Mom finally came home and is now miraculously regaining her independence. “Yes!” I thought, pumping my fist into the air, “Back to normal! Now I can finally settle down and relax.”

Not quite. More changes are on the way in the Mireles household. One kid is moving out, two more are moving in (along with two more dogs and a cat!) Household projects are in the works—the chaos ensues.

Life is always offering us lessons. There will be no settling down around here for the time being—and this is definitely something I need to learn. The truth is, I need to recognize that feeling settled is not about having peace and quiet, but it’s about feeling supported. Feeling settled is having your grown kids around to hug you and tell you it’s all going to be okay. Feeling settled is watching the reaction of my mom’s dog see her for the first time in three weeks. Feeling settled is making a face and laughing while changing my mother’s colostomy bag.

Feeling settled is accepting that I AM NOT IN CONTROL.

So I’m just going to stand up tall, hold my arms out wide, and try to catch all the good stuff that’s being thrown my way.

Here’s one example:

12 Responses to “Feeling Settled”

  1. Carrie Aguirre August 18, 2021 at 1:15 pm #

    Yes, I relate to so much of this.

    • Allegro non tanto August 21, 2021 at 7:11 pm #

      More than I’ll ever know! You are the queen of caregiving! ❤️

  2. Elisabeth August 18, 2021 at 1:46 pm #

    Beautiful xxo

  3. Sarabeth Clevenger August 18, 2021 at 6:51 pm #

    Special place in Heaven for care givers. You are loved and appreciated by us ex-caregivers, ……❤️we know!❤️


    • Allegro non tanto August 21, 2021 at 7:10 pm #

      She’s worth every moment of my time—but you know that already! ❤️

  4. Deborah mele August 19, 2021 at 7:04 am #

    Your daughter is wise. May your mother continue to get better and recover her health and strength.
    Just an aside, she and my husband are the same age. I thought your mother was much younger.

  5. Kay Bess August 19, 2021 at 1:36 pm #

    Love you, Jessie. Such a time this is… You’re in my heart. Always. ❤️

  6. Rossandra White August 21, 2021 at 10:12 am #

    My dear, precious Jessica, you bring tears to my eyes and make my heart sing at the same time! Who else but someone with a heart as big as yours could negotiate and embrace all these exhausting, challenging, yet so very enriching experiences. Could I move in with you guys?? 💖✨

  7. Melanie Jacobson August 24, 2021 at 3:10 pm #

    A lesson I never seem to learn. You express it so well and with humor too. Sending you my love and well wishes for your mom.

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