Friday, 11 February 2011

Girl Talk

‘A daughter may outgrow your lap, but she will never outgrow your heart.’

I have heard it said that we lose our daughters for a time during their teenage years but that if we keep the door open, they will come back to us.

My eldest daughter is 16 and we have had our fair share of dramas since she became a teenager but I have always tried to keep the lines of communication open, even when I could have happily strangled her. We have had tears, tantrums and disappointments but we have, on the whole, kept talking.

Lillie has often been moody, uncooperative and, at times, completely unrecognisable from the angelic little girl I loved as a child but every now and then I catch a glimpse of the woman she will become.

Relationships have been ill stared in our house this week and Lillie has had an ongoing argument with the LTB (long term boyfriend). In spite of the slamming doors, late night calls and red eyes, I have been largely unaware of the source of the problem. Until yesterday.

Seeing that she was unhappy, I took a cup of tea and some chocolate biccies up to her room, expecting to leave her to it but she wanted to talk. And I listened.

We sat for over an hour discussing relationships and life in general. Gone was the unpredictable teenager we had been living with for the past week and in her place was a sensible, intelligent young woman who was dealing with things in a mature way.

We ended up giggling on her bed and it felt like spending time with a close friend.

This morning, Lillie was back to stomping around her bedroom and scowling. The moment had passed.

But I have looked into the future and there is reason to be optimistic.

Tuesday, 1 February 2011

Moving on!

Yesterday, I started a conversation with my mother, one that we have been having on and off for a long time. 

“Have you thought anymore about moving?” I asked her casually.

“Yes, I have,” she replied. “And no, I don’t want to.”

But we have reached a point where it is impractical for her to live alone in a house that is far too big for her and even she realises that. The time has come to review the options, which are:

1.  Continue to struggle on her own until such time as she is forced to move (possibly resulting in another hospital stay or going into a home);
2.   Move in with either myself or my sister, or,
3.   Consider some kind of sheltered accommodation.

Option 1, whilst undesirable from her daughters’ point of view, is the one that my mum is clinging on to. She hopes to stay in the family home until the day she dies and I understand that, I honestly do.

We are in the final throes of moving house, and I have to admit to being apprehensive. We have lived in our house for over a decade, by far the longest I have lived anywhere since being a child, and it will seem strange to move on. I can’t imagine how frightening it must be for my mother, who has been resident in the same house for 60 plus years, to make such a big change.

I have thought very hard about option 2, and aside from the difficulties of multi-generational living, I cannot see it working from a practical point of view. I have three children and even after the move, we won’t have a spare bedroom. Mum can’t manage the stairs in any case and our new house has less downstairs rooms (although bigger) than we have now.

Which brings us to option 3. My mother tends to equate sheltered accommodation with living in a care home (akin to shacking up with the Devil) and I know from the experience of my mother-in-law (MIL) that it is not the same thing at all. It is communal living (MIL is rarely short on company) but with your own front door and there is always someone on hand in an emergency. But how do I convey this to a stubborn 86 year old woman?   

We have been rolling around in this particular issue for quite a while and with each day that passes, finding a solution becomes a bit more pressing.

Yesterday, there was light at the end of the tunnel. Mum did admit to seeing the sense in taking a look at the possibilities.

It is a small start, but one on which I am hoping she can begin to build a new life.