In an economic time when so many adult children are moving back in with their parents, I’m experiencing the opposite. My dad has now lived with Paul and me for six months. While he stayed with us two years ago for some months, this is the longest stint and one with no end in sight.
How did this happen? Economics mostly. My parents moved to Oregon eight years ago for work reasons. Three years ago my dad was transferred back, just as the real estate market tanked. They can’t sell their house in Oregon, though my mom is living there, trying her best to sell it. My dad? Well, he stayed with us for a bit, then rented a place in LA for a while. The cost of maintaining two residences was just impossible to sustain. Besides that, he doesn’t live alone well and needs someone to look after him. Needs a reason to come home from work at the end of the day and not stay in the office until 8 or 9 at night.
This is not a situation like the one my parents faced when my grandparents moved in with them. My father is in good health and works — works longer hours than me most days. He takes out the trash, brings home food, sometimes drives me around. I’m not “taking care of him” in the sense of being his caregiver. But I do find that I somehow have become his companion, much the way my mother is when she’s in town (she’s coming tomorrow). My father is the oldest of seven children. He has never lived alone, likes being around people, likes doing things all the time. It’s hard to tell someone like that you want to sit on the sofa and stare into space for a couple hours.
On a day-to-day basis it’s okay — and honestly the burden of entertaining him was also there when he had his own place and my mom was away. He doesn’t like being alone and doesn’t do well in solitude.
Paul and I don’t live in a big house. In fact, we don’t live in a house. We rent a 2 bedroom 1 bathroom apartment. Usually one bedroom is for us, the other is a study and guest room. The apartment is just the right size — for the two of us. With three adults (and for the next two weeks, four adults) the apartment seems a bit too small. Showers and even trips to the bathroom become matters of good natured negotiation. Working from home is a lot more difficult, something that matters because Paul always works from home and I do two days a week.
Even that’s not the worst of it however. I realized yesterday with a jolt of panic that, with my mom coming tomorrow for a two week stay, I would likely not be alone much at all between now and the end of August when we leave for Shadow Lane. I’m not getting enough time by myself which makes me feel anxious and cranky.
Nor do Paul and I get enough time alone together. Sure we can go into our room and close the door. But I still know he’s there or know he’s going to come home. We can’t really pull out our play stuff. It’s not that he isn’t respectful of our privacy — I mean, we’re pretty sure he did walk in on Paul spanking me in the living room and was polite enough to re-lock the door and disappear for a half hour — but it’s hard to really relax when I know we’re not alone. (I recognize that this isn’t anything new for people who have kids. But the thing is, we don’t have kids .)
Meanwhile my sister and her family may need to move into the house in Portland and live there with my mom. On the one hand I want it for them as it would mean my sister-in-law, who is currently unemployed, would have landed a great job. On the other hand, this could mean a year or more of my dad staying with us. I’m not sure we / I can take it.
So why haven’t I told him?
::sigh:: He’s my father.
He’d do the same for Paul and me without a thought. He moved my grandparents in with him and my mom, again without a thought. He tries so hard not to be in the way. Further, and this is hard to write, he takes better care of himself when he’s not alone. This matters to me as both his parents (and their siblings) died young. His father of a heart attack at 50, his mother of a stroke at 67. My dad is 64 and is the oldest male member of his family, save one who’s had two quadruple bypass surgeries. While his health is good, I know that his chances of making it much past 70 are statistically low.
How will I feel about adding stress to his life and sending him away if something happens to him? I can’t do it.
I wish I could just enjoy this chance to be an adult with my father, to appreciate the interesting and wonderful things about him as he seems to about me. What I feel though is a selfish longing for my old life. The one where Paul and I live alone, together.
Okay, whine over. Thanks for listening.