Imagine having a job for 25 years and then needing to hand that job off to someone else and then watch them do it day in and day out (and often better than you did). Imagine doing that with a mind that is still working pretty well, just a body that is failing and making it so you can no longer do your job.
Since our marriage began almost 25 years ago, our home and taking care of our girls during the day has been my job. Yes, I did some years of teaching, but my hours were always less than Tom’s, so I did the majority of the housework. When we started our family, he continued to provide for our family by working outside the home and I took care of the home and the girls while he was at work. I tried my best to make our home a place he could come home and relax, without having much to do, since he was working 60-70 hours a week plus a commute.
With my first cancer diagnosis, we transitioned for a short time to him working from home and doing a lot more around the house. We planned on that being temporary and it was. However, with the recurrence of the cancer now, and looking at being on treatment for the rest of my life, we needed to make a big transition in our home and I needed to hand off the majority of what I do around the house to him as I am struggling physically to do it.
Emotionally, this is really hard. First, it’s hard to see someone else do something you’ve done for 25 years differently than you would do it. It really doesn’t matter, but sometimes it’s hard and I have to bite my tongue. Second, I have spent 25 years trying to take the burdens of the house away from my my husband so we could have family time and he could relax and have a break. Now, I’m handing him pretty much everything. It is so hard. I feel like a lazy bum sitting in my recliner watching TV or playing a game while he’s cooking and doing the dishes or meal planning. I don’t want him to think I’m a slacker and taking advantage of him. It’s so hard.
We’ve talked about it a lot. He knows how I’m feeling and he assures me he doesn’t think I’m taking advantage of him and being a slacker. But even with all his reassurances, it’s still hard. This isn’t how it’s supposed to be. I was the type of person who saw a problem and tried to help. Now I just sit here at home (COVID-19 or not I’d be at home most of the time) and can’t do much.
I still hold out hope that my day to day will improve. But however much it does, this transition will remain and I will just help out as much as I can. This is our new normal, no matter how hard it is on Tom and I.
I have good days and bad days. On the good days, I can heat up my own lunch, put my own dishes in the dishwasher, help with school work and one day last week, I even swept part of the house. On the harder days, I can’t even do those little things. My mind is in a light fog many days, so even having me facilitate things is not a good long term plan. One day, Tom will be doing this without me, so transitioning to this now, when I can still help a tiny bit, is best. That probably sounds very end of life to many of you, especially since I’m still doing ok. But we’ve had a lot of discussions about it. I know it weighs on him heavily. It’s better for him to run the house and I step in and help as I can.
There has been a little shift of parenting as well, especially on the days when I’m in bed a lot. The girls would always come and ask me for things or ask me for help and they are now asking Tom more and more, which is great.
It’s very strange giving away your job. I’m so sorry Tom. I wish I could take it back. I love you so much. Thank you for taking care of all of us so well.