Life With Father – A Whine

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.

More detail.

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.

9 thoughts on “Life With Father – A Whine

  1. Haron

    A whine is a fine thing, and I honestly don’t think you have anything to feel guilty about. Privacy, your own space, is so vital, particularly if you’re prone to depression.
    That said… I hope you can enjoy time with your father, because there’ll
    be a day when you’ll dream he’s still there with you, and he just won’t be. I hope it’s not fir a long, long time. But.

  2. Mija

    Thanks for this. And yes, I am trying to enjoy it, realizing it won’t / can’t last forever. He really does try hard not to be in the way, something which is sometimes harder than if he were just, well comfortable.

  3. Emma

    Just because we’re doing the right thing, doesn’t mean we can’t take a few moments now and then to acknowledge the difficulties sometimes inherent in these actions.
    I think it’s wonderful that you’ve opened your home to your father. I know I’d do the same for either of my parents, luckily I’m 99% sure they’ll end up with my sibling and not me when the time comes 🙂
    And kudos to your dad for sneaking back out of the apartment and giving you some privacy and time! I can definitively state that mine would not be so understanding.

  4. Dana

    Please enjoy your father while you can. I’d give anything to hug my father and listen to his outlandish tales again. I know you need personal space but you and Paul have the rest of your lives and your father won’t be around forever.

  5. Mija

    Many thanks to everyone for their comments here and on Twitter. Mostly having my dad with us is a good and right thing and you’re all right — I will miss him and my mom terribly when they’re gone.
    But it sure felt good to have a little whine here where it won’t hurt anyone. 🙂

  6. Master Retep

    That wasn’t a whine, it was an honest compassionate and generous account of a stressful situation. Knowing your own stressors is so important. Pace yourself and enjoy the different kinds of relationship opportunities life throws you. I’d offer you a hug, but its probably the last thing you want, so here’s some virtual private space

  7. Iris

    It seems to me that holding the big picture (being grateful for what you know is a finite time with your father) in perfect balance with the very real details of day-to-day life (really? he’s home already?) is a Sisyphean task. You can’t get caught up in the former because that would make you a Stepford saint, and you can’t get bogged down in the latter because that would make you a petty person. And I know you to be neither. Seems like having a place to vent, figuring out creative ways to get the space you truly do need, and soaking up this unique time with your dad are all good things to do in their own turn. And in the meantime, I’m sending you a virtual hug.

  8. c vogel

    I see it from both sides- as a sixty year old Dad I would never want to impose-if that’s the word- on my grown up children and am at present helping care for a dad of 86 who is very angry and depressed bedridden though healthy- and straining capacity of family to love and care- the honesty of your blog struck a chord- and I can only say through all the restriction and tribulation of your situation there is a chance to take stock and see the aging process for what it is nature’s perpetual and cruel journey onwards that sweeps us with it, regardless of our plans or desires. I always felt this was at the root of my submissive peronality and a sense of the ineluctable that I gleaned from the great Greek drama- stay strong, love vogel


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