Tuesday, May 06, 2008

The strength to say, "No"

My sister has been out of town for 2 weeks, and won't be back until Saturday, which means that I have had sole responsibility for my mother and her needs. My husband has been dead for 195 weeks, and won't be back anytime soon, which means that I have had sole responsibility for my sons and their needs.

Today was the first day in over a week that I have not had some obligation to be somewhere or do something for someone. I was able to drop the boys off at school and come home and just be. By myself.

8:30 a.m. phone call

Alicia: Hi. How are you doing this morning?
Mother: Pretty well. I had a good night's sleep.
Oh, I'm glad.
What time are you coming to pick me up?
Before or after lunch?
Gee, I was hoping for the day off.
No, I really need to get out of the house.
Oh. After lunch then.

12:00N phone call

It's me.
You've been picking up my vibes!
Not so much. [laughing]
I was going to call and ask you to get me as soon as you can.
I was calling to see if I had to.
Yes you do! I've been counting the minutes.
But I just ...
I don't want to make you feel guilty, but I was really looking forward to going over there.
I don't want to make YOU feel guilty, but I was really looking forward to being ALONE.
Look, I'll just come sit in the big chair and watch a movie on TV.
Fine. Whatever.
Why? What's the difference to you?
Nothing. I'll be there in 20 minutes.

12:15 p.m. phone call

I'm sorry. I just can't do this.
Okay. I'll be okay.
Look, I'll pick you up after school if you want, when there are other bodies around anyway.
No, I just need this part of the afternoon.
Well, I need this part of the afternoon, too.

How do you spell relief?......N - O .

In the interest of full disclosure:

12:35 p.m. phone call

You have reached the Rxxxx residence. Leave a message and we'll get back to you as soon as we can.
You really should have picked up the phone. I don't want you to feel too bad -- just a little bad. You spent all last week tending to my needs and my requirements. And you didn't complain at all. So I don't want you to feel too bad. ... You really should have picked up the phone.


  1. It really is okay to take a day off. Really. Saying "no" is hard for diehard caregivers and I am one myself so I know.

    Just in the interest of disclosure, I left the answering machine turned off (cell phone too) for a day and a half once just to avoid speaking to my mother - who knew perfectly well what I was doing.

    Schedule some you time when your sis returns if you can. You can't be superwoman without downtime, ok?

  2. I agree, it is very ok! Ok?

  3. Hey, I don't have the sick mother thing going on and I feel like screaming!

    Take some time out so you can keep on giving. Yes it's tough on your Mum, but it'd be a whole lot tougher if you hadn't moved across the country for her, and it will be a whole lot tougher if you get so burned out you start screaming at her.

    Love and prayers across the seas.


  4. Good for you for being direct and honest about what you needed. I admire your strength.

  5. I just returned from my folks' house. I go over there a few times a week to help with things. (I never realized how much Brian was doing over there to help out, until he died.)

    Anywho ... I was there doing laundry, cleaning up their basement, and taking out garbage. I need to drive back tonight to bring in the trash cans and finish the laundry. When I read your entry I thought, "I guess I'm not the only one!"

    *sigh* It's tough, and I don't have the children to take care of, as well ... only a pooch!

    I just wanted to type "I understand," and YES - it is very, very hard to say NO.


  6. I'm sorry that you had to have such a difficult conversation. It is hard to say no! I too am a primary caregiver to my Dad. Some days I just don't want to go over or even call! You are not alone in your desire for time alone.
    I miss the days when I used to be able to just visit with Day and not have to 'care' for him!

    Good for you for taking care of yourself.