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The Maypole Corollary A Memoir of Love by Rene Sutherland available on Amazon.com
Before my Papa got sick, my husband and I were stable and effective. We were finally a two income household. We were beginning to save money and looked forward to a debt free, simple life style because our expenses were less than our income. Our children were in school and working was stress free because daylight hours were working hours and everyone had their job to do; the kids needed to get good grades and the parents needed to make money. It all made sense.
When my Papa got sick, I stopped working and for a while it was ok. But after a while, I couldn’t make sense of what was expected of me. If I worked, someone was left out. The stress from not doing all my jobs well was overwhelming. If I didn’t work, then everyone was cared for.
I am fully committed and loyal beyond doubt. I have not left my family behind, but I have left myself behind. How do I make what I need to do and what I want to do be one and the same? Well, I need to care for my family and I want to care for my family, so I am o.k. on that aspect. However, I am constantly thinking about others, so I need to learn to remember to think about myself.
I did try to start back to work in January, 2 years after my Papa died. But in July, I was reminded I was pushing myself to reenter the work force too quickly. I was, literally, writing out my first real estate purchase contract when my cell phone rang and the ladies my Mama played tennis with twice a week were on the other line. My Mama had fallen and hit her head. I grabbed my keys and ran to my truck. I raced to the high school tennis courts, while calling the local paramedics and ambulance service. When I arrived, my Mama was on the ground with the blazing sun shining on her. She was hot, confused and trying to get up.
“Mama, I’m here. I’m here Mama. It’s o.k. I’ll take care of you. The paramedics are coming to check you out and make sure you’re ok.”
“Oh, Rene, I am so sorry! I know you were selling a house today. I told the ladies not to call you and disturb you. I am so sorry! I am such a bother for you.”
“Mama, you are not. I love you. I am so glad I am here with you. Now, don’t worry about that right now. We need to focus on just making sure you are alright. Ok?”
“Ok. Rene, I am so glad you are here. I love you.”
“I love you so much Mama!”
I followed behind the ambulance and it reminded me of another day I followed my Papa to the emergency room. It was his birthday and he was having trouble with his heart. As I stared at the ambulance in front of me, I felt very alone. I thought about my siblings and how they never have had to feel this responsibility. I thought about my children and how lucky I am they are healthy. I thought about my husband and how much I love him. I thought about my Papa. I thought about my poor, scared Mama and how I really wished I could be in the ambulance with her. Half way to the hospital, I thought about my client. I called my client and told him what had happened. I called my broker and told him what had happened. I called the other realtor and told him what had happened. And then I put them all together and said I am sorry but you will have to continue without me.
I lived at my Mama’s house for three weeks. My daughter ran errands for us and my husband watched over our 14 year old son and his needs. I missed my family very much but I know I was lucky to be able to live with my Mama and take care of her. My husband has always been very understanding and good to me and my parents. He held down the fort while I was gone and understood how much my Mama needed me.
I haven’t worked with clientele since. How can I commit to my career when I am needed by my family? My career was supposed to grow as my children grew older and needed me less. But now I find myself in this quandary where my career can’t grow because I am the main caregiver at home; for all my family.
I call this life event the “Maypole Corollary.”
My life seems to be a series of events that pull on me, while I stand firmly in one place. The people in my life dance around me while I hold the steady ground. I am the Maypole for the generation before and after me. I am the solid while they are the ribbon holders, encircling me. I am the caregiver, the moneymaker, the planner, the thinker, the responsible one, my husband and me, of course. We are the Maypole. The Maypole Corollary is the effect of my parents giving birth to me while in their 40’s. In the future of our American society, we will see the Maypole Corollary play out like never before in history. There is a 298% increase in parents having kids after 40 years old. How will it affect society, families, individuals, and the family economy?