Getting Kids to Help

I really yelled at the kids.

“I am working all day, then I come home and I work all night.” I was trapped in the kitchen, lonely, scrubbing pots and pans, loading dishes into the dishwasher. Chris had used every cooking utensil we own to prepare a fancy dinner for a neighbor who’d just come home from surgery.

It was probably the most beautiful night in the history of beautiful nights and I was Cinderella. I’d have preferred eating a PB&J in the park, wiggling my toes in the long summer grass.

I have a Cinderella complex, love to feel martyr-ed and uninvited to the party. But remember Cinderella did get one free night. And on that night, she partied hard. That could be me.

I know I should insist that my kids help. A friend in a caregivers support group said that in looking back at her kids’ childhoods, she regretted doing everything for them — like me, she did so much for her kids because she felt sorry for them and for the fact that their dad had a chronic illness. I don’t want that regret.

Yes, in the school year, I do more for the kids because they have homework or they’re tired. But right now, they’re all out of school. “And kids, Mommy’s tired too.”  It’s true I love my job, but it can be tiring. I wish I lived in the 1950s where the breadwinner comes home, puts his feet on the ottoman, reads the paper and drinks a high ball. Maybe I’ll do that when the kids go to camp. ‘Cause I want to be lazy too.

Until then, I will keep crossing off items from my summer bucket list.

  1. Hold a baby
  2. Go to the IWWG (International Women’s Writing Guild) conference at Yale
  3. Take art classes with my father and sister in Vermont
  4. Take H. and his friends to 6 Flags for his birthday
  5. Continue to work hard and have passion for my day job
  6. Take family to Ocean Grove, NJ, Jones Beach, or Shelter Island over 4th of July weekend
  7. Keep writing every day
  8. Toes in the grass and picnics in Riverside Park as often as weather allows
  9. Get a mani-pedi
  10. Join Improv or comedy class
  11. Meet with agent again on book
  12. Revisit my young adult novel
  13. Read all books for book clubs
  14. Keep working out every day — tennis, Pilates, biking, or running
  15. Visit a church a day once kids go to camp
What’s on your Summer To Do list?
I took this picture riding my bike to work yesterday. I felt like I was in the tropics, but I was in Manhattan.

Of Love & Alzheimer's & WSJ

This is a personal email I sent after reading this article in the Wall Street Journal
 Dear Dr. G.,

I am writing to you as a member of The United Methodist Church and not as the staff writer of a United Methodist agency. My husband has Parkinson’s Disease and I attend a support group for spouses of the chronically ill.

It’s great that the United Methodist Church was mentioned in the article in the Wall Street Journal on Love and Alzheimer’s!
In a loving, kind, and diplomatic way, I ask you to reconsider that the marriage vows of “sickness and health” apply to marriages where one of the spouses has serious mental compromises. I believe that this view has caused the well spouses to become unhealthy, unhappy, and uncaring for their own basic needs, contributing to the stark statistic of earlier deaths of the caregiving spouse.

A lovely older gentleman, Gil, in a support group I attend has been often near tears about his wife’s demise with Alzheimer’s. She is currently in a nursing home and has no recognition of her husband. He has found friendship, love and solace with another woman, who often visits the nursing home with Gil. Our support group has been heartened to see Gil happy and capable of now dealing with his wife much better.
I believe that within Christian denominations – as in the Jewish faith quoted in the article – there is room for more compassion and understanding as to the safe and life-affirming decisions that a well spouse like Gil may make about his own need to continue with life, even as his wife’s life continues on a difficult and challenging trajectory. The truth is she is not the same person, she does not even recognize him. It is very difficult for him. I applaud his new love, while also applaud his deep commitment to his wife. Life is complicated. I have compassion.

Thanks for reading this. – MB


I felt great when I received this email….
Thank you, MaryBeth

I greatly appreciate your letter and your compassion.

I do agree with you, personally. In the article, I was asked the stance

of the UMC on this matter.

I reported what the UMC states regarding marriage. Although I may

differ with the official church position on some matters (including its

views on homosexuality), as a staff member of an agency of the church, I

am obligated to share what I believe the position of the UMC is. And as

such, in the interview, that is what was reported.

I am hopeful that the UM Committee on Older Adult Ministries will

address this issue and bring some form of legislation/resolution to the

next General Conference.

In the meantime, please know that I, too, am sympathetic and

compassionate; but, sometimes, official church policy does not always

reflect our sense of compassion.

Again, please know that I appreciate your letter very much, and I, too,

wrestle with these and other issues that impact the spiritual well-being

of older adults.

If I can be of further help, please let me know.

Grace and peace,