There was a big change in our peaceful empty nest last week.....my mother moved in with us for a few weeks while she recovers from knee replacement surgery. She lives alone in the city and there was no way in the world I would let her go home on crutches! This decision has brought with it a few changes in my usual routine.
The first new hat was chauffeur/personal driver - starting with a drive up and back to the big smoke to pick her up from hospital. She isn't allowed to drive for six weeks, so the passenger seat is her new mode of transport. There are trips to the physiotherapist, trips to the coffee shop, trips to the doctor, trips to visit people, and the list goes on. My little car has done more mileage in the last week than it has in the month leading up to then!
Hat #2 Chef
Cooking for two is a lot easier than cooking for three. You know what the two of you like to eat and it's usually fairly plain and simple (we're always watching our waistlines to try to minimize the kilo's creeping on). Now I need to take my mum's tastes and preferences into consideration and cater to someone who rarely eats a vegetable any more. She is getting a few lessons in healthy meal preparation - her's had fallen by the wayside since living by herself. The shopping bill is bigger and the meal planning is more involved - it's like having the kids home for a visit (only longer!)
Hat #3 Nurse
I'm not well known for my care and compassion and my sympathy levels are fairly low. I can muster a fair degree of initial sympathy but my levels dwindle rapidly. It's the standing joke in our house that everyone is allocated two days of sympathy a year from me and then they're on their own! Fortunately I was prepared for the fact that I'd have to be at mum's beck and call for a couple of weeks, so I was prepared to do my noble daughterly duty for the length of her stay..... sadly, that hasn't stopped it all from driving me a little bat s**t crazy. There's only so much groaning, complaining and sighing that I can handle before I need to take some time out. Hopefully no-one else will get sick in the meantime or I could be in crisis mode!
Hat #4 Maid
An extra person is an extra set of sheets and towels to wash and change and extra little chores and errands. I can't expect mum to be changing her bed sheets or getting herself cups of tea when she's in pain every time she stands up or sits down. The whole reason she's here is to save her having to manage on her own. I think I should have given her a little bell to ring so I don't need to check on her all the time, but in all honesty, she's not really all that hard to look after.
This has been a steep learning curve for me - putting someone's needs first and foremost every day is quite draining when you're used to sailing through relatively calm seas. Knowing it's only for a few weeks makes it much easier to cope with and it's been good for mother and daughter bonding time. Things are a lot less peaceful at the time being, but that's not necessarily a bad thing - you can get too complacent when the nest is empty for too long!