In the spirit of “Leaning In,” I offered to help my father write some letters.
During December I felt trapped, much the way a mother of a toddler feels. I remember being home with small children and wondering what it would be like to be able to do and go without worrying about other people. Now I sometimes feel that way again, but it’s not because of small children.
I had asked Laurel some of the same questions I asked Mary (see Explanation). Laurel knew how old I was. She also astutely answered the what’s-my-favorite-thing-to-do question. “You like alone-time,” she said — and I felt a little lump in my throat because she understood me so well.
Alone time. I crave it. Like chocolate. Or coffee.
When I was home with toddlers, I would retreat to the bathroom — and they would stand outside the door, talking to me, trying to get in, asking when I was coming out.
In December, my father would sometimes stand at the bottom of the stairs. “Sally? Sally? Are you going anywhere today? I’d like to go out,” he would say. And I would feel so selfish that I just wanted to go out alone. All. By. Myself.
With toddlers, sometimes they would follow me everywhere. “Fred” used to sit on my foot and hold onto my leg. I would hobble around, my steps uneven because I was dragging a little boy with me. He simply wanted to be with me. If I stopped to read with him or play with him, sometimes that would satisfy his Mom-time need, and, in turn, I would have a little alone time. In the kitchen. Woohoo.
So — leaning in. I decided in 2017 that I wouldn’t try to escape, but would rather lean in. Embrace.
Instead of escaping upstairs, I asked my father if I could help him write a letter. He had been saying that he wanted to write to a few people, but, beyond the struggle of gathering thoughts into words, he also struggles with the fine motor coordination of writing.
Yesterday, we sat to “write.”
It took him a long time to formulate his thoughts, but his words revealed how trapped he felt, too. He told his friend why he couldn’t travel to visit her —
… I feel like I should accept the wisdom of the rest of my family that I should not drive a car. I agreed to this reluctantly, but there’s no way out.
No way out. What a terrible feeling.
He got frustrated with the writing process and we put the letter aside.
So today, we’ll finish that letter and get it in the mail.
And I’ll take him out with me.
It’s a lot slower running errands with a person with a walker.
Not unlike a child hanging on a leg.