"....... for he knows how we are formed, he remembers that we are dust" Psalm 103:14

My mum is coming to stay

That's us, circa 1963 (for want of a better mother-daughter photo)!

My mum is coming to visit in a few days, and staying for a week. That may not sound like a very exciting or significant occurrence for some, but trust me, this is no small thing. More often than not it's me visiting her, but this time, in spite of the challenges, she's coming my way.

Logistical & emotional challenges
Firstly, she lives far away. Two plane trips to get here, two to get back home. And with a 2-hour time difference at this time of year, it takes the better part of a day, especially going home. She's 78, so that is no small feat.

Secondly, a few years ago she discovered she had two small brain aneurysms, when they started to bleed suddenly, requiring life-saving surgery. A month in intensive care, followed by a slow but almost full recovery, still even she would admit she's become a little more frail as a result. A little more hesitant, a little more reluctant. Not quite so brave about things like travel. It took her a while to overcome the "yips" about the long trip to see us when she came 4 years ago, so I'm excited and thankful that she is braving the travel exhaustion and coming again.

Living far, far away
It's been a long time since my mum lived close by, almost 19 years, and while I miss many aspects of having her near, I particularly missed her during the trauma and seemingly endless grief of my separation and divorce. And sometimes even now I think it would be so nice just to be able to "pop in" for a cuppa. Since I moved across the country many years ago we've only been able to visit every so often - once a year or thereabouts - and either I stay with her or she stays with me. And even though we sometimes have a struggle when we are living in close quarters for any length of time, I do want this visit to be a really good one. I want it to be special, enjoyable, comfortable, memorable.

I'm taking the week off work so that we can hang out, catch up, do some nice "mother daughter" things together. I last visited her in October, and my sons haven't seen her for about 18 months, when they each visited Tasmania, so they're also pleased that she's decided to make the trip again. She was such an important presence and much loved part of their formative years.

But........... we're also a stepfamily now
Being part of a stepfamily brings the odd dilemma. The first time my mum came, two of my stepchildren were still living with us, so the question uppermost in my mind was "where is she going to sleep?"

In our previous family home we'd had a spare room. In the little house I bought when I was single-again I'd also had a spare room. So having someone to stay was never an issue. If I'd still been living in my own place, perhaps even with my sons, I would have simply said to them "Granny's coming to visit. Isn't that great? Now which one of you would like to give up your room for her? You can either share a room or one of you can bunk down on the couch for the week." And one of them would have offered their room gladly. Or if not exactly gladly, then I would have offered it for them, and they'd have gotten over it very quickly. Because....... well...... it's Granny. And they love her.

But 3 years ago things were very different. Even before the renovation made parts of our house temporarily unliveable, our house was smaller. We had fewer rooms. Indeed we had no "spare" room. And I didn't exactly feel like I could say to my stepchildren "Which one of you is going to give up your room for MY mum? For your step-grandmother, who by the way you've never met?" And yet, it's my home too, and I wanted to be able to have my mum come to stay and have it not be a problem.

In my own home.

At the time, I felt like I should have been able to decide which room was the most appropriate one for her. Not the one downstairs (and I use the word "stairs" very loosely, at the time it was really more of a stepladder down through a manhole than stairs per se........). So that just left the other one. My stepdaughter's room. But at the time she had a "top bunk" bed, with her desk underneath. Equally challenging for a (at the time) 74-year-old, having no bed at ground level. Honestly, it also felt a little presumptuous of me to decide that my stepdaughter would be okay with her room being used, even if she was unlikely to be there at the time.

So that was our dilemma back then. We needed to find a solution that didn't leave anyone feeling neglected or discounted or ignored or displaced. Catastrophizer that I am, I didn't like our chances!

A straightforward solution
In the end it was fairly easily solved. My husband and I had a couple of brief discussions, he then chatted with his daughter, who was her usual easy-going and sweet self, and my "mountain" went back to "molehill" size. My husband promptly dismantled the "bunk" bed in my stepdaughter's room and replaced it with a traditional ground-floor bed, and there my mum spent a comfortable week.

This time it will be much simpler, bedroom-wise. But our challenge for the next couple of weeks will be "Can we get the bathroom finished in time???"

2 comments

  1. There are always logistics when family comes to stay aren't there Sue? We just lost the spare room we stayed in if we visited the family by gaining another granddaughter (a fair swap I would say!) Our house is large enough for extended family to visit for as long as they like - it's just convincing them to make the trip to bucolic pastures that seems to be the stumbling block for us!
    So glad you're getting to spend time with your Mum - I'm beginning to realize how precious time is with our mothers and to make the most of any opportunities to spend quality time together - I'm sure you'll both be creating wonderful memories xx

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. It's true Leanne! You should see the logistical scrambling going on here this weekend, as we finish the second bathroom with only days to spare!!!
      I'm looking forward to some enjoyable down-time with my Mum. I'm having the week off, and have a few things planned, including a matinee of Aladdin, which should be fun. Thanks for your comment xx

      Delete

I'd love to hear your thoughts on this post. Please feel free to leave a comment!