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So it was with a bit of trepidation that I welcomed the new maid who landed up one morning in January to take the old one’s place. The new lady is quiet, goes about her tasks dutifully but did seem a bit alarmed at the idea of doing laundry. Not wishing to lose good hired help, it fell to my lot to go back to doing laundry, a task my other maid had been doing for all this time.
At first, I resented the fact that I was losing a good chunk of time doing laundry when I could be so much more productive with other things. Slowly, though, I began to embrace it the way I used to, before I had handed the reins of this job over to another person.
This week alone, I’ve found it very helpful with two things: Dealing with being part of the sandwich generation and coming to terms with who I am as a person/writer/blogger.
It’s a known fact that as parents, we’re supposed to be the strong ones, for our kids’ sake. After a while, it’s almost as if we’re responding on auto-pilot when they need a hug or a kiss to make things better for them, because we’ve grown into that role of the caregiver who knows what to say or do. What happens, though, when a parent exhibits frailty?
My mom, one of the strongest people I know, emotionally and otherwise, called me yesterday and from the sound of her voice, I knew she was choking back tears. The ‘maternal’ instinct woke up inside me and I asked what was wrong. Turns out she had a terrible toothache and the pain was more than she could bear. The painkillers weren’t helping either. It was all I could do to not grab my keys and start the 30 km drive over to her place, but she’d anticipated that and assured me that she’d be fine.
I just wanted to hear your voice, she sniffed. My mom.
Wait a minute. I’m supposed to say that! Not her! Yet, here I was, a woman 20 years younger donning the role of caretaker. After the first instinct of worry dissipated, I soothed her, told her to try and lie down, maybe apply some clove oil if she had any and call/message me again if the pain didn’t die down.
After this, I pulled out the stack of clean laundry and proceeded to fold each piece of clothing. As I did, my mind calmed down from the fluttering state it had inhabited and infused me with a deeper understanding of an important truth.