Monday, January 22, 2007

I did something I've never really done before.

Yesterday, with my mother. I explained my job to her. I explained my working life to her. I told her stories about what I do, and she was truly useful and had some sharp insights about human behavior in the workplace, very impressive in an 80 year old who hasn't had a job since before her grandkids were born. She is sharp, but she doesn't think she is. But what really got through to her was the serious pressure of what we do. I told her some stories and gave her an idea of the scope and complexity of the things on my desk, and the personalities and the politics, and she really did get what I was saying and stopped fretting over nothing the way she does, at least while I was talking, but it started again as soon as I shut up. She is obsessed with her finances, down to the point where an 87 cent change in her insurance premium causes her to sit down and calculate the impact. She would benefit from anti-anxiety medication, and I'm not being funny when I say that, she really needs it. But it's still amazing that at 80, she is a better accountant than a lot of the professionals I know. She does not give herself enough credit.

She always says, "I don't know how you do all that you do." And I laugh and point out that I have never been offered an option - well, I was, I could have gone the SAHM route but something in me said it wasn't for me, and hindsight says maybe it was some sort of divine guidance, because obviously I needed to be able to do what I do. To me, what I do is just life, but from her perspective, from another generation, I'm Wonder Woman. I'm not I have just learned to compartmentalize and prioritize. The normal business of life is the stuff I do around the job. It takes longer to get it done - I need to hire a lawn service to improve the quality of the green-ness and kill the weeds, and I haven't had time. Though we don't have bugs, a pre-emptive pest control service is a good idea. And I still have a busted sprinkler head in the backyard. But the garbage goes out, I always have clean towels and underwear and toilet paper, and nothing is neglected. The odd thing is that it was not more challenging when I had kids at home, because while life was busier, it was also shared. I was fine with juggling the crazy hours we both worked and the kid things like Scouts and the golden retriever puppies and the whole crazy thing, and it never felt like work. Now that I'm single and working, it feels like work to keep up this house. I have to either hire more help or sell the place, and I wouldn't want a condo here. They are too heavily dominated by investment properties, no commitment to the community. So I need me a couple of bug guys, and then maybe a maid service.

I realize how much life has changed since my mother's generation, and I get a kick out of how she finds my life really interesting. It reminds me that I'm lucky that I can do all that I do.


Kerstin said...

It does sound like your mother would benefit from medication ... or at least someone to talk with on a regular basis to take her mind off her anxieties.

Max was just diagnosed with OCD. I have never witnessed anxiety like this up close and personal and I have to say, it's frightening and maddening. His thing is hand washing and they are so raw, it makes me cry. He's receiving behavioral therapy and we are encouraged by the news that we caught it early, but still. It's serious.

You've done what you had to do, C. I suspect you aren't getting paid nearly enough for what you do and maybe that works into the stress of it all? If you can afford it, certainly hire help. You know a man would! They don't have hang-ups about trying to do it all, that's for sure.

Catherine said...

My mother is 80, she is the way she is. Her doctor has tried to guide her into anti-anxiety meds and/or talking to a therapist, she will not talk to anyone and she will not take meds. And after 80 years, she is accustomed to feeing the way she does. It's good that Max was diagnosed early!

I'm paid well for this market, I can't really complain about the money, though the promised position that hasn't been created yet will pay a lot more and that certainly won't be a bad thing. I have no guilt about hiring help, believe me! It's just hard to find reliable people. I have a great guy who mows and does the yard work, but he doesn't do fertilizing and pest control or fix the sprinkler system, so I need other guys for that. It all gets done and is not a contributor to any stress. That is what I was trying to explain to my mother, that "all that I do" gets done because I don't waste a lot of mental energy worrying about the petty things! Not that I expect her to change at her age.

Sue Woo said...

Her behavior has met her needs for so long she would probably have trouble changing it. However, your healthy communication with her is positive, as you know. Good luck.

Gencesca said...

It's frustrating when someone doesn't realize their smarts. My mom was not only very smart, she was also gifted craftily and artistically, but she would have denied all three and developed none of them. Argh!

Of course, me? I totally live up to my potential!!

Sounds like that was a great conversation, though.