My youngest son graduates high school in May and then heads off to college. Meanwhile, my father is in critical condition after suffering three strokes since mid-November. My elderly mother is in crisis mode, not sure how to cope with these changing events. My parents live out-of-state and the expectation seems to be for me to travel back and forth to take care of them; but as an only parent who runs two businesses from a home office and responsibilities here in Colorado, that isn't possible.
I admit to feeling torn, not between my son and my parents, but ripped apart from my own expectations of finally having an empty nest (aka freedom) and the looming expectation that I should be doing more for my elderly parents who live in another state--neither of whom will relocate.
As the sole provider of my family and a solo-preneuer with two kids about to be carrying a hefty college tuition bill, I feel as if I'm burning the candle at both ends already. Budget is tight. Time is fleeting.
The doctor told my dad that he has an 80% chance of having a fatal stroke in the next few months if he doesn't follow their recovery/rehabilitation instructions to the letter. They live on a farm with horses and buildings full of crap. My elderly mom is overwhelmed. I keep reminding myself that I asked them to move away from there a few years ago in case something like this happened--as recently as last summer I offered to spend two weeks going through their buildings to organize things--and was told to back off, that they didn't want my help. But now what?
Guilt hangs heavy in my heart and confusion fogs my brain.
I'm at a strange time in my life where nothing feels secure. I call it "situation fluid". Back in my twenties and thirties, I'd envisioned this chapter a lot differently. I never anticipated this constant state of flux. I never thought I'd be a widow managing it all alone, nor did I expect to feel this sense of uncertainty every day.
I think of my dad, who had always been the rock of the family and who was in a constant state of activity, now immobilized and facing his new reality. He'd had big plans for his retirement--fixing up all those 1950s cars in his buildings, traveling to Norway one last time, and going on a cruise to Alaska with mom. Those dreams are dead now. He may not even be allowed to travel here to Colorado to see my son's high school graduation. We're all absorbing that hard truth.
His situation is also making me reevaluate my daily choices. What am I putting off that I shouldn't be? Do I want to spend some of my best years in a constant state of struggle and hustle? Why am I uncertain?
Perhaps my uncertainty is the problem. Maybe I'm undermining myself with second-guesses and what-ifs.
So many questions and no one to confide in. That's the real dilemma of an only parent and solopreneuer. I've become isolated, chained to my desk and caught up in every day chaos of deadlines, teen drama, bills, and marketing. One day is exactly like the next, at least on the surface. Now that it's January of 2016, I know we're on the downhill side careening toward the finish line of my son's graduation in May. It will be here in a blink of an eye. A week into the new year and I'm already behind schedule!
But what's the point? Where is all of this headed? Do I move temporarily back to care for my parents? Could I possibly manage two households and my business from a remote location? I don't know. I have a hard enough time managing all the balls I currently have in the air.
So that is why I say I am both at a crossroads--facing an empty nest and major life change--and in the crosshairs--feeling the expectations and responsibilities of taking care of elderly parents.
I will do what I always do--deal with it all as it comes my way. But the pressure is there...that constant buzz in my blood...and I can only dream of a day when I stop being in this constant state of flight or fight.
Peace to you!
Amber Lea Easton
Amber Lea Easton is a multi-published author of romantic thrillers, contemporary romance, women's fiction, and nonfiction. In addition, she is a professional editor and mother of two extraordinary human beings. She currently lives in a small cabin high in the Rocky Mountains where she is completely aware of how lucky she is. To find out more about her books, please visit http://www.amberleaeaston.com.