Critical choices

ID-100202241.Tao55It has been a roller-coaster of emotions for me over the past seven weeks.

I had been working hard to try and get the marital settlement over the line before my second son’s upcoming wedding. I was also busy getting my home ready by doing a few things to the kitchen prior to my son and fiance (and her parents) coming to stay. Coming from Canada, they planned to stay in Tasmania a week before the wedding and I was looking forward to spending some quiet time with them.

Three weeks before their due visit and four weeks before the wedding, my mother had a turn and was rushed into hospital. She was there a week before we realized that her illness was quite serious. I flew up to be with her and my siblings for a week.

Then my siblings made me return home to prepare for my expected visitors and to get myself into ‘mother-of-the-groom’ mode. I returned home with the countdown one week before visitors and two weeks before the wedding. The kitchen needed to be put back in shape (as I had stripped it bare before my sudden exit), and the house had to be put in better order. On top of that there were business issues to attend to, a mountain of paperwork to complete, and bills to pay. Two days after my return, there was a sudden major strategic development in the marital settlement, which required urgent meetings.

For those crucial few days, as I dealt with the marital settlement development, I had to put all my emotions completely aside in order to make some highly critical decisions. I had to put aside the emotions surrounding my mother’s illness and my son’s wedding. In doing so, a numbness descended on me and I began to feel nothing at all.

In the topsy-turvy world that I had been living for the three years since my life upended, I had craved normality. I had been waiting for the marital settlement to be final so that I could feel normal. I had been waiting for the marital settlement to be over, so that I could sit back and enjoy my children’s milestones, such as weddings. I had been waiting for the marital settlement to be over, so that I could start my new life. Over the previous weeks, I had discovered that life would not wait. My mother needed me now. And I needed to be with my mother. My son needed me to be happy and relaxed at his wedding. And I needed to feel happy at his wedding. Now, I could not work out how I was going to fit my mother’s illness and my son’s wedding into everything else that was also suddenly happening in my life.

On the Thursday evening, after I returned home from the crucial meetings, I just wanted to sit down and cry. I couldn’t. So I did the next best thing, I sorted sheets. From absolutely nowhere, I had a sudden nesting instinct, and of my wanting to do something ‘normal’ that did not involve emotional pain. I sorted sheets and then more sheets, well into the night.

The next day, I went into work and did all that was necessary in order for me to absent myself from everything that was going on in my life EXCEPT for my mother, my son’s wedding, my visitors and my family. I put EVERYTHING else aside. The business, the marital settlement, decisions. Life was more important.



26 thoughts on “Critical choices

  1. A testing and challenging time for you Elizabeth.

    I would cry when you feel the need to cry and then sort the sheets! No easy way out sometimes, a little release here and there does help overtime, rather than waiting for the storm to hit. My thoughts are with you.

  2. Sorting sheets sounds pretty soothing given all the disparate needs and feelings that are pulling on you right now. Prayers for your mom and delight in the thought that you will be seeing your son married soon.

  3. So many moving parts. So many emotions. So much pressure. So many expectations. So much caring for others….. Whew! Each of us finds our way of coping. Now its your turn to take care of yourself and recharge. Congratulations on saying no to what doesn’t really matter.
    .. And breathe!
    Val x

  4. I don’t know a single soul who could handle such a deluge of high-need, urgent items without some feeling of stress and being overwhelmed. I think it is awesome you chose “you” in the midst of this. There may even be a welcome side effect – your staff at work will become more adept at doing those things you usually take care of! Carry on caring for Elizabeth!

    • Ah! I am not sure that the ‘me’ fitted in the at that time. However, I was able to choose the things that fitted in with my conscience and that reduced my stress (of being torn apart). So that was a start, in an indirect way.

  5. And life continues to move forward…cheers to stopping to take a well deserved and NEEDED breath. We as humans feel so much pressure…we would like it to be inflicted from outside, but truly if we look closely it is our own doing. We WANT to be able to handle it all. We WANT to be able to flow effortlessly through our decisions and life events like the characters on a well rehearsed television program, always having the right things to say, the right reactions to situations, and the nice tidy solution at the end of the half hour/hour. We oftentimes set ourselves up for disappointment…just because we WANT to be able to gracefully handle it all and EXPECT that we are able to do so effortlessly. We forget we are human. There are limitations. There are priorities. There are unwanted obstacles that hinder our progress. Life. It happens. Take care of yourself and do what you CAN…and hope the rest falls into place as it is meant to…you have so many rooting for your success and happiness!

    • Thanks so much for this in-depth reply. I really appreciate the words and the feeling and care behind it. It has meant a lot to me and I have copied what you have said into my ‘saved’ list to come to and read again. It has really resonated with me and I appreciate your friendship. 🙂

      • I’m humbled that my words could cause so much response. I often feel our spirits are kindred…we seem to share the same pressure to perform in the realm of motherhood. I say my words both as a hope to help reduce your pressures as well as convince myself to do the same. (easier said than done, as you know) I admire your penchant for being the best mom you can to your kids…no matter WHAT their age! I only hope I can do the same for my own children so that I have the relationships with them that you seem to have with yours. (just read your account of the wedding weekend and I am SOOOO happy for you)

  6. I understand that numbness — there comes a time when I know I ought to cry, but I’ve been working so hard at holding myself together that I’ve become numb, and the tears simply will not come, as they, and my heart, are in the deep freeze. When that happened to me, I compulsively cooked and cleaned the kitchen and baked and cleaned the kitchen and cooked and cleaned the kitchen.

  7. Elizabeth, you must have felt terribly overwhelmed with all you were dealing with. But you did the right thing by focusing on what is most important. I hope your mom is on the mend, and your son’s wedding is perfect.
    Hugs, Jennifer

  8. The whole situation is exactly that: Life happens! It is so crazy that it came at you full force and head on. I like the ordinary things, some of my older friends liked to iron to get their thoughts and emotions collected, others baked. I think you are doing fine on this rocky ship of yours, hopefully not too long when it will be smooth sailing ahead! My thoughts and prayers are still with you, even when you don’t see me! Elizabeth is my middle name so I have a list of my friends with this name that pop up as I pray. Take it easy and hope you get what you deserve very soon!

  9. After everything that happened you managed to have a good time on the Cook Island with family members, enjoying your son’s the wedding. You must be so happy that all this worked out so well despite all the previous upheavals. I very much admire your resilience and your love for the family.
    “The business, the marital settlement, decisions.” Hopefully all this will soon be behind you so that you can tread calmer waters.
    My prayers are with you. Love, Uta

  10. Pingback: Caring for mother # 1 – from confusion to providing basic needs of the elderly | Almost Spring

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