My husband and Jackie struggled to find a reasonable balance of care for their mother. She doesn’t need daily care, but she has frequent doctor’s appointments and doesn’t like to drive. Jackie thinks she and my husband should split the load 50/50. My husband thinks it would be equal, but not fair. He has a lot of responsibilities at home with our children, in addition to a much more demanding work schedule than Jackie’s. It’s also much easier for Jackie to step in because she lives there.
I think it is difficult for her to understand the demands of small children. She became resentful and, unfortunately, their mother’s health is unlikely to improve significantly. I try but I have trouble seeing Jackie’s point of view.
M: “Jackie” doesn’t understand the pressure of having two toddlers at home, and you probably don’t understand the challenges of living together and caring for an elderly, chronically ill parent.
I’m not sure it’s up to you what’s “easier” for Jackie, as she lives in the household. You have to assume that she provides a lot of daily care that you are unaware of. You also have to imagine what the situation would be like if Jackie was overwhelmed and decided to decamp.
One solution would be for your husband to hire a caregiver to help his mother one morning a week and on Saturdays.
It would give Jackie a break from the house, and it would relieve the two siblings from running errands and household chores, so they could spend more time with their mother in a lesser role.
(You can also bring your mother-in-law home for lunch on some Sundays. As crazy as it may be in your household, a few hours spent with your family can be good for everyone.)
I agree to have a family member accompany him to doctor’s appointments, if possible; siblings should check the calendar a month in advance and do their best to share this responsibility.
Dear Amy: I lost my husband almost a year ago. After the funeral, many promises were made by my friends and church congregants that they would always be there for me in the way I needed. These promises were sincere, I’m sure, but the majority went on with their lives. I understand that.
My question is: Why make these promises if you can’t keep them? Honestly, I would have appreciated a phone call to see how I’m doing, someone dropping by to visit me or inviting me for coffee. I am alone all week until my son visits me on the weekend. It’s been a lonely year.
Only: I am so sorry for this loss, and certainly for the loneliness that followed.
People often make these promises after a loss but don’t keep them, in part because after structured memorial events end, we don’t seem to have a cultural roadmap for what to do next.
People are suspicious and uncomfortable with the loss of another person, but as you point out, it’s actually easy! A phone call, an invitation for a coffee, a visit. Instead, you probably feel abandoned.
I hope you’ll be a little proactive here. How about making a phone call to ask a friend if they can meet you for a coffee? Others who have lost spouses, in particular, might jump at the chance to reunite. I also hope that you will join your church family. Ask your son to drive you and stay for coffee time.
Dear Amy: Your response to “In my dreams” made me short. You mentioned dreaming about taking a final exam at university, but landing in the wrong room. I have the exact same dream!
Diploma: Dozens of people responded, living the same dream!
I suggest that we synchronize all our dreams and show up en masse in the wrong room. Some of us may not wear pants.
© 2023 by Amy Dickinson. Distributed by content agency Tribune.