Being a chauffeur is just one of my important jobs. There’s line cook, personal shopper, super snow-shoveller, not to mention a whole slew of Viking-like tasks and Herculean daily errands that come under the heading of “Welcome to the Mother and Son Show.”
This is life with mom.
I can’t be the only 50-something adult that is helping to look after his mother in small town Ontario. Where are you people?! We should have some kind of support group going! (Is there one? I don’t know as I’m too busy shovelling snow…)
Sometimes it’s more than challenging. On the days where she treats me as if I’m still 12 years old, (“Please hang up your clothes!”) those are the ones that are most difficult. The endless chores and duties at the Lindsay colonial home can take a toll. There’s helping her navigate her way through her emails on the clunky, out-of-date computer. There’s the walking her to and from the car so she can make her way safely without slipping (she refuses to wear proper winter boots with proper treads — why?!) There’s the dinner planning — we seem to have the exact same meals week after week, in a general rotation; there’s Swiss Chalet order-in-night, pizza night; I’ll make eggs or a stir fry, she’ll make her famous meatloaf and roast beef, there’s sandwich night, pasta night, then it’s back to square one).
I know, pretty bland Anglo-Saxon caucasian, right? I am playing the role of the only son who bombed out in his own life parade and has now been cast out from the big city after another relationship ran its course and have ended up at mom’s (once again) to help look after her. To be fair, she looks after me too. Yes, it goes both ways.
The challenge has been for me to find some kind of existence that makes sense; work, play, social, my own life aside from the role of this Norman Bates Psycho situation we’ve got going. Our dynamic is pretty co-dependent. Then there’s the passive aggressive behaviour that’s off the charts sometimes. She’s wildly stubborn so instead of just coming out and asking me to help, hands shaky, she’ll wrestle with carrying the laundry down to the basement not two feet away from me for a few minutes before I pop out (just like a retail manager who’s ears perk up at a complaint) and say, “Would you like some help with that?”
It wasn’t always like this.
Each of us at one time or another had our own separate lives going. I was raised in Toronto and lived with my mom until I was 18 before she moved up here to Lindsay with my stepfather. They both had retired, Mom from the Toronto Cricket Club and him from Ontario Hydro, and wanted out of the rat race. They also had been coming up this way for a long time as they had a cottage on Lake Catchacoma near Buckhorn. I was living my life as an artist, and moved to the U.S on a couple of occasions, but when my stepfather passed on in late 2001 and things began to get tough for me, it seemed what made the most sense was to join forces and cohabitate.
No one trains you for such a midlife episodic crisis. Not that it’s all bad. I’ve come to get to know my mom in ways that I never have before. One might say we’ve rekindled what was once a dwindling mother-son relationship. If someone had a video camera I’m sure the audience would get quite the chuckle at some of our interactions, it is kind of insane and grotesquely comical how we get under each other’s skin.
“Yes, mom, I said I’ll shovel the driveway, I’ll get to it.”
“Sorry, mom, I forgot to use a coaster in the dining room, I’ll do better next time.”
“No, I don’t know where you left the remote!”
“You don’t have to do my dishes, Ma, I’ll get to them shortly…”
And on it goes.
And don’t even start about New Year’s festivities; the holidays have been a full-on excuse for mom to go full tilt into the whole deal. There’s the outside decorations having to be just so, all hooked up to oddly scheduled timers I couldn’t begin to understand. Then there’s the barrage of presents and gift giving for friends and family alike. In comparison, I have been the ogre-like Scrooge with regard to the season, but I could learn to be a little more patient, I guess. Maybe that’s the life lesson.
I’m better off than most and there’s lessons in gratitude all over the place if I’d just wake up and realize it.
I’d like to think I’m starting to.