Jun. 20th, 2012

errantember: (darth bobo)
Jesus. I've been helping my Mom recover from foot surgery recently, and it's been tough on both of us. I've been 200 miles away from home for almost 30 of the past 45 days, and today we found out she may not be walking again for another six weeks. I have Huge Plans to drive to Portland this summer that have already been hugely delayed, but she lives alone, and can barely get around with a wheelchair and walkers without help. She also can't reach all of her own feet, which makes keeping track of her Activac mechanical wound vampire thing difficult. She teaches adult education, and has lots of devoted students, friends and neighbors helping her, but naturally they can't do as good a job as a devoted family member. My Mom really busted her ass taking care of me as a child, with a bipolar and often out-of-work father. Her incredible devotion, focus, and hard work is the main reason I'm where I am today, and I know I can never full repay that debt. It feels like the least I can do is take a few weeks out of my life to help her through what should be a temporary hardship. Paying someone else to do it amounts to thousands of dollars per *week*.

Balanced against staying and helping is the fact that the trip to Portland is not some kind of recreational vacation. It's something I've been working on for months, if not years, and is the first major step to manifesting my new life of mobile development and living light in people's back yards. Mom's house is also filled with cigarette smoke and Fox News 24/7, and it's nearly impossible for me to get any work done on my career while I'm here. I have a huge amount of momentum making the move from corporate cog to independent developer, and a lot of will be lost if I stay here too long. More to the point, distractions and depression are the two biggest obstacles to me being able to pay the bills as an App developer, and both of those are going to be hard-core monkeys on my back as long as I'm here. Of course, the guilt of leaving will be with me if I choose to do that. I've also put thousands of dollars in parts and hundreds of hours of labor into getting my car ready for the trip. Finally, I have existing and potential romantic relationships in Portland, and this is the last funded trip I have before cutting myself off pending money from my new career. I chose to remove money from my retirement account for the second time just yesterday to keep myself afloat, and, even with everything as uncertain as it is, I still steadfastly refuse to seek full-time corporate work. I know if stay focused on my App development, I can get to a point where I'm paying my bill in six months or less, but if I let *anything* distract me, I won't make it.

Finally, my Mom has some issues with feeling loved and appreciated due to her tough life, and combined with the guilt issues I've had for years over our relationship, there's a very real threat that she will continue to see her own need as trumping what's going on in my life if I don't assert some boundaries. I'm fairly certain there's an internal monologue in her head that says "my son isn't really amounting to anything, he's committing financial suicide, and compared to what he has going on taking care of me is *much* more important." As much as I want to help her, I have my own life with a huge number of moving parts, and I can't simply turn it off, no matter how important the motivation. If it were a longer-term situation of her needing help, I'd have to put my foot down and say "if you really need long-term help from me, you're going to have to move to my town," but the fact that this is of medium-but-undetermined-term makes the water much muddier.

I've also had the luxury of living a pretty soft, self-centered life, and this is forcing me to grown up in a lot of ways that are painful but probably good in the long term. I really love my Mom, and being forced into a pressure cooker with her has actually allowed me to re-connect with some kinds of love for her that got blocked in my childhood. Those issues have caused intimacy problems with my partners, and I can already see the breaking of some emotional dams overflowing into those relationships.

The good news is that she has long term care insurance that kicks in in mid-July, and assuming she qualifies, she should be able to get more comprehensive home care.

From a taking action perspective, I think the best way forward may be to go home for as long as I need to to get the place ready for a five week absence, then return to D/FW on my way to Portland, with no intention of returning home before I head out. This will allow me to get what I need to get done done, but provide her with as much support as I can before I'm unavailable for a month. It will actually be a better test of living in yurt, which I will set up in her back yard, than doing it at home, since I won't have access to all my own shit there. I still have an overheating problem with the car I'll be taking on this 4400+ mile sojourn, and driving back up to D/FW will be a good test of the new radiator I have on order before trekking out cross country.


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