(Read with tongue-in-cheek)
Caregiving sucks, you know. Being a housewife sucks. Don’t try to talk me out of it! Don’t try to tell me I’m an angel or a saint---or worse, yet, “A good woman.” Don’t say, “That’s okay, dear, tomorrow your PMS will be better.” Don’t tell me about the silver lining after the storm. And don’t mention the fable about caregivers being given no more than they can handle. I know all that stuff. I was around when they invented that spin. What I don’t know---and maybe you can enlighten me---is when do we get to have some fun? When do we caregivers get to push all the pill bottles aside, forget the daily therapies, hang up the pots and pans, let the dust bunnies mate, and say, “Enough already! I’m going sky diving!” Well, maybe not sky diving. I’m afraid of getting on step-ladders. I’m old and I forget my calcium supplements too often to test the god of broken hips.
Okay, so what DO old people do to have fun? Let’s see. Don does a version of park bench sitting. You know about that, don’t you? Old guys sitting around pretending to play checkers but they're actually doing stuff like watching young people go about their mating rituals, yuppie business men with their brief cases in one hand and cappuccinos in the other, and little kids doing what little kids do best. Bench sitters have a lot of fun. Every so often they get to say to themselves, “Been there, done that.” They might even get to laugh when a yuppie steps in gum or a little kid's ball lands in a pond. Old men get to flirt, too. Like making a pharmacist turn three shades of red by telling her she's cute. My husband has fun doing that. Old men can come off sweet---most times---when they tease the girls and make them blush. But let an old lady try that. Bells would go off. A voice-over would come down from the clouds saying, “Step away from the hunk! You’re scaring him!”
I could knit, sew or quilt for excitement. Whoopee. Been there, done that. I could spit-shine the house. Been there, done that. I could learn to cook---you’ve got to be kidding! This old lady would find that torture. I've avoided it all these years. Why start now? I could buy some new make up and learn how to paint my face. Rudy red lips, black eyebrow pencil lines that over-shoots its mark, round circles of bright rouge plus mascara that runs down the cheeks. I’ve seen that look on other old ladies and I figure it must fun to play with your face that way. But face painting wouldn't be exciting like sky diving or roller derby or dancing under the moon. Or maybe I could pack my husband in the car and drive around until I get lost. Getting lost at my age IS thrill seeking because if you get caught doing that too often they test you for senility.
It's time to get back to my housewife and caregivers duties. The pills don't put up themselves. Laundry baskets aren't self-cleaning and if I don't let the dog out soon he's going to pee on the floor.
Jean Riva ©
Painting by Franz Von Stuck