Our 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!