Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Five Warning Signs Quiz

There are many books out there that will tell you what to do IF your parents become demented. But really, do you need to fork out the $29.99 for a self-help book if you don't even know if you will need it? Do I buy the book, or not?

Here's a quick quiz to determine your odds of becoming a Panini.

I. My parents are:
a. Really great. They're 80 years old, and have done all their estate planning and are cheerfully ensconced in their retirement community.
b. Really pretty ok. They're 65 years old, and have done some wills and medical forms, but they are still living in that funky house.
c. Really not too bad. They are 75 years old and are only now becoming aware of their impending demise.
d. Really a mess. They are 80 years old and I haven't spoken to my dad ever since he was convicted.

II. My siblings and I:
a. Get along great! I'd have no hesitation about taking a walking trip across Nepal with all of them, and their spouses, too!
b. Sometimes have our differences, but we always work them out.
c. Do o.k. as long as we don't have to spend too much time together.
d. Left home at 18 and only occasionally exchange Christmas cards.

III. My parents (family) possessions:
a. Mean nothing to me, just stuff.
b. There are a few things I'd like to have, but mostly I don't care.
c. I think it should all be divided up evenly.
d. Are all exquistely imbued with deep emotional meaning, and my siblings would steal them all if they could!

IV. My children and my husband:
a. Are united together as a loving group, through thick and thin.
b. Have our ups and downs, but we all love each other and work hard together to work it out.
c. Are mostly a burden, but this is the path we're on for the present.
d. If that asshole doesn't get up off that sofa and take these little brats out of here I swear I will start screaming!

V. I find it stressful:
a. I never find it stressful, I am serene and relaxed all the time.
b. When things get super busy, but I am good about handling my self-care.
c. When things get too busy for me, and I get stressed if I don't get it all done.
d. See quiz IV, answer (d).

If you answered mostly (a) you will probably never be a Panini, or if you are you will sail through it with Martha Stewart like aplomb. Don't bother spending the 29.99.

If you answered mostly (b) you have a greater chance of becoming a Panini, but it probably won't bother you greatly. If you see a good eldercare book on sale, you might buy it for informational purposes.

If you answered mostly (c) you will definitely be a Panini, so go to amazon.com, order 3 books and devote a weekend to reading them and taking notes.

If you answered mostly (d) you already are a Panini, skip the books and go directly to the Alheimer's Hotline for help.

Thanks for taking this quiz. One final word of caution: Very few people die instantly of a heart attack while doing kickboxing class on the Lido deck of a Caribbean cruiseship. It's probably not prudent to plan your end of life around that scenario.

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

That's A Housecoat!

This evening as I splayed my exhausted body on the sofa, blearily eyeing my two boys' creative re-working the Playmobil Firestation, my mind wandered over the change in my career status. I am now a "householder." A friend alerted me to this newest term in family member definition, formerly known as "housewife." It's an omni-sexual term for the member of the partnership that steps away from their job/career/passion to raise the family and maintain the home fires. I like this term. It makes me think of a Medieval chatelaine, capably bringing in the castle's wheat harvest, not a hair out of golden fillet, while the lord of the manor is off quelling the Scots. Terribly romantic.

As I splay there, the belt on my fashionably low-cut jeans digging uncomfortably into my lumbar area, my second thought is: What should I wear in my new position? It needs to be something that is comfortable and flexible to move in. It must be easy-care, with a patterned cloth to hide the stains. It needs to camouflage the lumps and bumps of the 20 extra pounds I'm carrying. Then it hit me! I am pretty much describing the muumuu-style housecoat my mother wore in my youth!

My mother was quite an attractive woman. Fanini was tall and curvy, with dark hair and a strong face. She dressed to suit her shape, in tailored skirts and dresses; fashionable, with an eye to subtle details. At least she did in all the photos I've seen of her. When I first knew her, she mostly wore a short sleeved, vaguely Hawaiian, dark blue and green housedress. In fact, in all my Kindergarten portraits of her, she is wearing that dress.

So looking back and doing the math, my mother would have been 44 years old. She would have been out of her career for 5 years. She would have had 4 children and a non-participating husband to care for. She would have canned, cooked, shopped, nursed, drove, and cleaned for all of us in our huge, unreconstructed victorian house. No more career to pursue--out went the Pendleton wool suits. No more evenings at the swank nightspots--out went the low-cut petal pink silk cocktail dress with black edging. It was during this muumuu time that I recall her butt getting pretty wide. I don't recall her ever complaining about it.

So here we go again. Things are both better and different forty years later. My husband is extremely considerate, and really wants to be a good father and supportive husband. I have a small easy-care house. I have lots of conveniences and entertainments to ease my daily drudgery. So what does it mean, this contemplation of the housecoat ? Is it merely because I am middle aged and have finally accepted that now I am, no longer, hot? That I cannot identify 75% of the stars in People magazine? And I don't care? Do I finally realize that this is not going to be just another in a string of personal adventures? That I'm probably going to be doing this until I die? Never again will I attend a New Year's Eve party in my famous black to silver strapless mini-dress. I guess it is time to send it on to the thrift store. Maybe some other fabulous babe will get some mileage out of it. I hope she can appreciate it.