A Glimpse of the Future

arrow-rightOur family consists of me, my husband who has Mild Cognitive Impairment (MCI), and our son who is a 16-year-old high school junior, plus our cat.  I have been a stay-at-home mom since our son was born.  Actually, I don’t know any stay-at-home mom who does.  The moms I know who do not work outside of the home for pay tend to be busy volunteers at their children’s school, scouts, and sports events.  Mothers work themselves out of the job of raising their children because their children grow up and start their own life.

I really didn’t plan for my retirement from motherhood.  I didn’t think about what I would do in the future.  I thought I’d do “something” but I didn’t give it any more thought than that.  I thought Steve would work until his mid-60’s or later, and then we’d travel together.

That all changed in December 2009 when Steve was diagnosed with MCI.  The diagnosis forced him to retire.  During 2012, I really started to think about my future.  I’m not sure what it looks like.  I can’t imagine being just a caregiver, and right now Steve doesn’t need a lot of my care.  He needs me to set up his pills for the week, go with him to appointments, and sometimes keep him on task, but lately, fortunately, he doesn’t need me for much more than that.  Well, I manage the house, but cooking, cleaning, paying bills and grocery shopping can be done while working.  I did it before becoming a mom.  A couple of times I have mentioned to Steve that I thought I should look for a job.  He said he wouldn’t stand in my way, but he isn’t in favor of that.  I can see this will require some negotiating in the future.

I know when you are caring for someone it’s important to live in the present, but it’s also important to plan for the future.  Steve’s stable now, but if he declines and needs more of my help, that would cut into a job.

But I haven’t explained that the title, “A Glimpse of the Future,” is because we are currently in the midst of a week without our son at home.  He’s been in Washington D.C. for the inauguration.  I decided that this was my chance to figure out what I could do in the future.  I would use this time to see what life would be like with just Steve and me in the house.

Five days into this, I have no more idea of what I’ll do in the future than I do now.  If I was going to extrapolate these days into the future, I’ll be doing a lot of housework.  Uh, no.  I need to determine what I want to do outside of the home, or what type of a job I can do at home.

I need to do a better job of communicating with Steve.  Without a third person in the house, I’m missing a person to talk to when Steve sleeps in or watches TV on his computer at night.  The cat is not a good conversationalist.  More than once, my patience has been stretched when I’ve been up for a few hours before Steve got up and I felt like I was going backwards when I had to do more breakfast dishes, make the bed, and remind Steve to take his pills.  I’ve been frustrated when Steve needed my help on one of his projects when there is something else I’m trying to accomplish.

I’ve tried hard to be the good wife (not the TV show though) this week.  I’ve made sure to make the meals Steve likes that our son doesn’t, do activities Steve likes to do that our son doesn’t (like quiz car salesmen on the differences between cars) and watch a John Wayne movie. (I confess that I was so tired that night I went to bed during the movie.)  These days I’m not even sure what I like to do so it makes it difficult to work my desires into the mix.

What these five days have done is remind me that I don’t want a futureless future.  I want to be productive, or as my neighbor one day said about herself, “A contributing member of society.”  With the future quickly approaching, it is time for me to think about my future, what I want it to look like, and how I can make that happen.  Wish me luck!

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Avatar of G-J

About G-J

I am a caregiver for my 59-year-old husband, Steve, who was diagnosed with Mild Cognitive Impairment in December 2009. His employer put him on disability and he had to retire one year later when he couldn't return to work. I am also the mother to our son who is now a high school senior. We have a cat, Sagwa, who rounds out our family. In addition to blogging here, I volunteer at my son's high school in the scholarship office, teach a class I created called, "Keep Your Brain Buff" at our city's Senior Center, lead a writing group at the Alzheimer's Association, and advocate for people with all types of dementia. In November, I will be participating in my third Walk to End Alzheimer's.

6 thoughts on “A Glimpse of the Future

  1. Avatar of ejourneysejourneys

    Hi, G-J — The first thing that came to mind is a wonderful book that I read many years ago — Barbara Sher’s Wishcraft. She offers free downloads from her website now: http://wishcraft.com/. Her exercises are geared toward helping people discover what they like and want to do. (I’ve adapted one exercise in my own teaching.) And there are also the Vision Boards! :D Sounds to me like you’re making very good use of this week — you might not have answers yet, but you’re actively looking for them. Good luck on your journey toward self-discovery!

    Reply
  2. Avatar of Sunshine=Sometimes

    Hi G-J,
    Sounds like a difficult and introspective time in your life. Keep up your blog and tell us how it goes! I am so interested! I am too currently following a path I realized yesterday how different it is from what I planned in life. My siblings are off on their own and living vacations together and life events together which I am not included on. So? I am taking care of Mom. Last night while watching TV I told Mom – after a particulary grouchy day upon my part – I really like when you tell me how much you appreciate me Mom. She said I really do “S=S” and that made my day. Doing caregiving may be our “future” (mine I mean?) but it is worth Mom’s praise! After all? Besides perhaps a God in life? Who loves me more? :)

    Reply
  3. Avatar of TrishTrish

    GJ, There’s no way you won’t be a contributing member of society. You are a fireball right now with your volunteer projects and all that you do for Steve and your son. You can’t gauge your future on 5 days without your son – first of all, that’s not near enough time to turn his room into your dream room of ?? Office? Exercise/meditation Room? Sitting room? Cat Room? Oh, wait, those are my dreams. :-)

    I will wish you luck but I also know you won’t need it because you are dynamic, fun and a planner (which sometimes means we get in our own way when life has other plans for us).

    I look forward to walking into the future together – whatever it may bring!

    Reply
  4. Avatar of KathyKathy

    GJ, Oh I do know how hard it is to now imagine a future especially when we envisioned growing old with our spouse, sitting in rocking chairs holding our grandbabies, or traveling and visiting the kids and grandbabies when we wanted to.
    Dreams and plans change, we just didn’t think it would be like this.
    But I agree with Trish here. “There is no way you wont be a contributing member of society”
    You already contribute so much and are learning so much more to give.

    Your future’s so bright, you better wear shades :)

    Reply
  5. Avatar of G-JG-J Post author

    Thank you, Ladies! Your input makes me feel like we are all sitting around a table together enjoying coffee, wine, sweet tea, or something else. Although I can talk to friends in person about this, they don’t understand the caregiving aspect of it. I enjoy our time together.

    Reply
  6. Avatar of DeniseDenise

    Hi G-J–I can understand the confusion about the future. It’s hard to see what the future will need of you so it can feel frustrating to know how to plan for the future.

    Something I learned the hard way: I’m much better off if I let go of trying to control the future. I do better if I know I can take steps today to plan for my future and know that I can be flexible about those plans when the future arrives.

    I guess I wonder: What do you really love to talk about? To do? Who do you admire? What do they do that you admire? Perhaps spending more time with your passions will lead you to just what you want your future to be.

    Please keep us posted!!!

    Reply

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