Monday, May 21, 2012

Where do you draw the line?

So, following my father-in-law's passing, my mother-in-law didn't want to be alone.

Perfectly understandable for someone who has never lived alone. As did many women in generations past, she went straight from her family's home to her husband's home. At 58 years of age, she has never lived alone.

She did not spend the night alone for 3 weeks after he passed.

Totally understandable. I cannot imagine what an adjustment that will be.

She's also starting asking her sons, mostly Jason, for assistance around the house. Again, perfectly understandable.

The middle son (who lives out of town) has paid for someone to mow the lawn for the next 6 weeks. He also took care of some minor home repairs while he was in town.

The Monday after he left, my MIL asked FireMan to come over to take the garbage out that night. He did. The next morning, as she was leaving for work, she called to ask him when he was bringing the empty cans back in. He went over & did it.

You know, the brand new, easy-to-roll cans that the boys chipped in to purchase to make the task easier for her.

I'm not gonna lie, without some deeper explanation that she has not been willing (or is unable) to provide, I think this is excessive.

I cannot accept "because a man as always done this for me" as a good reason to ask someone, anyone, to drive over to your house and perform such a simple task for you.

My 91-year-old grandma with arthritis takes out her own trash & brings the can back in the house.

When I was 8 months pregnant, with a history of a bad back, I would drag our no-wheels garbage cans across our bumpy driveway to put out the trash.

She is only 58-years-old, works a full time job (ie. is capable of working), has a short, smooth driveway, and brand new easy-to-roll trash cans.

So, we struggle.

How much is adequate support for a widow? your mother-in-law? whose loss occurred less than a month ago?

How much becomes a hindrance to her? holding her back from becoming stronger? enabling her to be helpless?

I'm really struggling with this. I want to be respectful, and helpful, and sympathetic. I do not want to "help" her in a way that both holds her back, and put an unnecessary strain on my husband & family. But how do you find that balance?


areyoukiddingme said...

You could be straight with her and say "Look, I know it must be lonely in the house without dad. And I'll visit as often as I can. But calling me over for every silly little thing is just going to make me resentful." But you also have to make sure to follow through on the visiting as often as possible. I'm sure she doesn't want to be alone. Also, you can invite her to spend some time with you...

It does take a while to get used to things, so try to be understanding. And by "a while," I mean a very long time.

Robin said...

I wish there were an easy answer. Unfortunately, I don't think there is. It's a go by feel thing. And it may be a slow process. But if it gets to a point where you are becoming resentful, I think you have to say something.

Best wishes as you navigate these delicate waters. I'm sorry for the loss your family has experienced. May you find moments of peace and joy amid the adjustment stress.

Stopping by from SITS.

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