I Know I Shouldn’t Moan, But…
I’m going to moan anyway, because I’m tired and grumpy! I appreciate I’m a grown woman whining about her mother. It’s not a proud moment for me but it’s cathartic, anyway.
I love my mum but she has certain irritating habits. For example, she seems to dislike the quiet so insists on filling it with noise. Unfortunately, I enjoy the quiet. I cherish the quiet. There are times when I would gladly lie on a bed, or a sofa, with nothing but a cool breeze blowing through a window breaking the silence. I also listen to heavy metal music; go figure.
Mum, however, likes to clap, hum, sing – hell, she even manages to turn a yawn into an off-key operatic performance. The clapping is just one of those strange little quirks people have. I liken it to Frank Underwood’s habit of knocking on a table when he leaves a room in House of Cards. As far as the humming goes, I’m 90% sure she doesn’t even realise she’s doing it. The yawning? Nope, not a clue.
For the most part, I can deal with these little things. They’re harmless enough. That said, having recently read an article on LinkedIn about mindfulness, I kinda wish I could sign her up to a course on it.
Timing is Everything
Wednesday night is date night for me. I say “date night”; what I really mean is that my girlfriend comes over after her shift. We then spend some time cuddling on the bed watching TV. Exciting, eh? I should be fair to mum here – for someone who, by their own admission, has no idea what two women could see in each other, it is sweet of her to be accommodating. No matter how bizarre she finds the idea of lesbian sexual activity (and believe me, she’s asked… a lot… and I’m only winging it myself!), she does give me space to spend some quality time with my love.
This morning, however, not so much. Mum was obviously awake several hours earlier than normal. Perhaps feeling at a loss for something to do, she did the only thing she knew how. A cacophony of noise erupted! Clapping, humming and that off-key operatic yawning.
I perhaps should point out at this time that our rooms are next to each other. While mum’s hearing loss protects her from hearing what I get up to in my room, I’m not so fortunate in that regard. As much as I may have been to my heavy metal happy place over the years, my hearing is still tip-top.
Sharply awoken by the hullabaloo that I originally mistook for a traumatised parrot being spanked, I soon realised what had actually happened.
It’s Grumpy Time
Pretty much everything about this makes me grumpy. I have reminded mum, several times, that I can hear everything she does. If she coughs or sneezes, I can hear it. In some ways I’m thankful she’s never used the Internet, and therefore hasn’t decided to further investigate my sex life by taking a trip to LoveHoney and buying a magic wand. And on that note, I have discovered my girlfriend can sleep through this ruckus. I was very tempted to start poking her so she could participate in my grumpy misery, but I refrained. I’m nice like that.
Besides which, it didn’t really matter thirty minutes later. Mum turned the TV on. The TV is right next to my bedroom wall. There’s no aerial connection in there because whoever built this house couldn’t be arsed. Being the genius that I am, I bought mum a Roku box. This has the added advantage of coming with a convenient headphone jack on the remote so she could watch TV without bothering me. Smart, eh?
I’m an idiot.
Remember how I mentioned mum’s never used the Internet? This is because mum is one of these people who has never quite mastered technology. Ergo, my instructions (which I actually wrote out!) on how to use the TV and Roku box haven’t quite been absorbed. For example, I told mum that if she’s not getting any sound from the headphones then she needs to replace the batteries and to never turn the volume up using the TV remote.
Guess what happened this morning?
“What the hell?”
My girlfriend’s words on being startled awake by the bellowing of whatever was on ITV3 this morning.
I marched into mum’s room to find that she had tried to replace the batteries. She’d simply put them in the remote the wrong way. A minor improvement. Of course, with this not having the desired effect of producing noise from the headphones she’d gone straight for the TV remote even though it in no way controls the headphones. I would have thought the fact the headphones plug into the Roku remote would have been a giveaway, but anyhoo…
“Can you get me a drink, please?” – Yep, no apology for nearly having caused my girlfriend to jump out of her skin.
With my head feeling as though it was stuffed full of mashed potato, and the very real desire to viciously peck someone’s face, I trotted off to make a cup of coffee for her. When I returned, guess what? I found mum had gone back to sleep! Oh, the grumpy monster is sticking around today.
Unfortunately, I don’t get back to sleep easily after being woken up. Besides which, I now had my girlfriend laughing at me for apparently being a “Little Miss Misery Guts”. Yeah, laugh it up. The next present she gets from LoveHoney from me will be electrified.
I suppose though, at least one of us could see the funny side. The truth is, however, I don’t get enough sleep as it is. I do wake up every single time mum moves about. I’m trained like that. If I hear her moving about in the night, I listen to check she doesn’t need help – and sometimes she does. This type of thing doesn’t anger me – I’m a carer – it’s what I do! But to have my sleep interrupted for reasons that boil down to mum being inconsiderate somewhat… pisses me right off.
It also sets me up in a bad mood for the day. Today I installed some updates on the back-end of this website. Not only did these updates break some functionality but they’ve changed all my bloody fonts and presentation styles. Had I managed adequate sleep, I would probably be okay with this and fixed them up in a calm, collected manner. Instead, I’m composing angry emails in my head along the lines of “Who the f— do you think you are?!”.
I’ve also been mumbling words that make Gordon Ramsay look like a character from Maid Marian and Her Merry Men.
Dealing With It
I know I probably sound like a bit of a bitch right now, so I’ll get to the point. I’ve said before it’s okay to be annoyed. What is important is how you deal with your own grumpy episodes. I’m not inclined to start shouting at mum for being inconsiderate. That would only result in us both feeling bad. Yet, at the same time, bottling everything up also is a bad way of going about things. Mum may have various disabilities, and that in itself does warrant some consideration, but in return I deserve consideration too. If I become unwell due to sleep deprivation, fatigue or stress, this doesn’t help anyone. Mum is an adult, so she should be able to take some constructive criticism.
The first thing to do is to get into a calmer place. There’s various ways of doing it. I’ve just spent an hour writing this while listening to heavy metal music. And I feel a bit better – except over the whole unwanted website changes; may a thousand cities burn for that transgression.
It doesn’t matter what is annoying you. That something is annoying you is enough. What we must always remember is most people get a bigger break from each other than we do with the people we care for. Even if you’re getting regular respite, the chances are you’re still spending far longer than the 35-hours a week you need to qualify for the kick in the shins that is Carer’s Allowance. Every single little thing can start to stack on top of each other, until you have a tower of angst struggling to be contained inside you.
Don’t Be Quiet
It’s true that most of us see the people we care for as a bit delicate. They are in some ways, or they wouldn’t need us. In some cases, it may not be possible to speak to the person you’re caring for about those things that irritate you, but you should speak to someone. Carers UK offers a support line, and forums where people can get things off their chest. Don’t be quiet and let everything build up – it’s a fast-track to exploding.
If you can speak to that person, do. Once you’re feeling a bit better, express to them, politely and as nicely as possible, how their behaviour affects you, and how it makes you feel. I think it’s important that you not only convey your annoyance, but you convey why you’re annoyed. What does their behaviour prohibit you from doing or what negative effect is it having? In my case, I’ve not had enough sleep, so my concentration has gone to pot because I now have a minor headache.
This means that things I had planned to do today, I’m struggling with more than I should and they probably won’t all get done which puts me behind. Let’s face it, the only thing I’ve been able to concentrate on thus far today is having a whinge-fest on, and about, my website! I already have to get up earlier than normal tomorrow because of a delivery that I cannot afford to miss so it’s going to take me several days to catch up.
Sometimes you may have to repeat this conversation. In my mum’s case, I do know her medication makes her forgetful. It is very much worth repeating though, because even if you don’t see an immediate improvement, you’ll know that you’re trying to make things work.
If Things Are Really Tough
If you’re really struggling, and if you can’t speak to the person you care for about it, then make an appointment with a GP. There’s nothing wrong with seeking support from Mental Health services if you’re having difficulties. Depending on where you live, then it might not be easy but push for it. Things like Cognitive Behavioural Therapy could be what you need to better respond to situations that cause you angst or irritation. A Carer’s Assessment may help provide you with covering care while you attend therapy sessions. It’s not weak and it’s not wrong to seek help.
If all else fails, start up a WordPress site. Eventually something will go wrong, and you can take out your frustration’s on some poor customer support rep (kidding!).