So lucky

"You don't know how lucky you are" someone said to me earlier this week, before continuing with "living with your Mum. You wouldn't know what it's like to have to run a home or look after kids, worrying about how to pay your bills and whether or not you should turn on the heating or put on an extra jumper. Raking it in with your business, you can just come and go as you please; must be so nice to just drop everything and go out for the night?"

Now, on one point they are correct. I am lucky, really lucky, but not in the way they seem to think, and I have to admit it really pisses me off when people make a judgement based on something they know fuck all about. Yes, I am lucky - not necessarily to be living with my Mum - but to still have her around. So many people don't and I could not imagine how hard it must be to not have your Mum. I dread the day something happens to mine and each day she gets another day older (as do we all) and I'm fully aware she's at an age when she could be taken from me at any time. I selfishly often hope that I go before her, and I am fully aware how awful that is. Luckily she comes from family stock who have all lived long lives; on both her maternal and paternal lines. I've got her down for 94 and I hope every day I'm right about that. A  world without my Mum doesn't bare thinking about, which is really strange when I grew up a typical "Daddies girl". 

As for everything else this person threw at me they could not be more fucking wrong if they tried. Yes, I run my own business, and to the outside world it is a success - it's still going and pays it's own bills which in this world right now is 100% on-the-nose success, however, I run it on my own, with the help of a part-time driver, who thankfully only charges me mileage and not an hourly wage. I also share the building I'm in with another company, who I also have a part-time job with to help me be able to cover the most basic of bills, because whilst I am truly blessed to work for myself (and I do consider it a blessing to be able to) I still only earn £700 per month - and even then sometimes I'm not entirely sure it's going to be able to draw any kind of wage from the business. That's with me working on average 67 hours every week, 51 weeks a year (sometimes I'm lucky to be able to only work 50 weeks a year). Add to that the part-time hours I do for the other company and you'll get some idea of why I can't just up-and-leave on a whim, as the person who believes me to be 'living the life of reilly' seems to think. I'd rather love my job though and be penniless than work for someone else and be raking it in. I've been there, I've done that and I hated every second of it. One thing I've learned as I've got older is that it's not about the quantity in your life; it's about the quality of it. 

When I get home from working those 2 jobs I cook dinner because my Mum has failing eyesight and each day she sees a little less than she did the day before. She is also going a little bit deaf as she gets older so I often find I have to repeat myself twice - even 3 times - and her memory is also not what it once was so I can tell her something in the morning, lunchtime, evening and by the time she goes to bed, or the following morning she'll swear I've not told her. The main part of her losing her sight is down to a fuck up at the local hospital when not once, not twice, but 4 times they screwed up basic operations that should have seen her have 95% vision and not need glasses. I can now stand just 2ft away from her and she can't make out any of my facial features. It's not really safe to allow someone with those limitations to cook. Her bad eyesight also means when it comes to cleaning she can't do it like she used to and what she will argue with me as being spotless, is in fact not, and I often have to sneak around the house after she has gone to bed going over bits she has already cleaned; I do this so she doesn't feel ashamed if she was to have visitors. Sometimes though it's not possible and over the past few years things have got a little grubbier than I would like. She is also the reason I can't just drop everything and disappear off out 'on a whim' because if I am to go out I have to make sure she has everything she needs before I do, and as much as I love her (I truly do) I've not had a day off from her in 8 years. I've been away on a few camping weekends during that time with friends but she will phone me several times each day to ask me where something is, or why the TV won't work; what's up with her audible book, or where the keys to the shed and garage are, so I may not be there with her, but I don't get a break from her. I did get an hour to myself in October 2020 when away for a week with my brother and brother-in-law and they took her into town with them but they were gone literally just over an hour. I also had 2 hours at home without her last year when she was having another eye op (the other's I've hung around for or someone has taken her for me because I can't always shut my shop to take her to her appointments) but even then I was sat waiting for the call to go back and pick her up so there's no real respite. I may not have kids but every parent I know has more time off and evenings out away from their kids than I am afforded away from looking out for my Mum. Once every 3 weeks or so my brother will come over with his hubby for a couple of hours, on occasion he's helped me out by doing a few DIY jobs indoors, but he has his own life to live, is married and lives an hour away so he can't just pop round, have a quick cuppa and then nip off again.

On this very day, an actual day off for a nice change, I was awakened at 07:30. By 8am I was working my way through a list of jobs that my Mum needed doing, before beginning on the ones of my own I needed to get done, however, it took me 4 hours to even start mine because every time I walked away she called me back to ask me another question, or for help with something, or for my opinion. Even when I nipped up to the loo, I'd literally just got my undies down, dying to pee, and she shouted at me from out in the garden to ask me for something, at which point all the neighbours then knew I was trying to pee because the windows were open. I came all the way back downstairs, even though the jobs I was going to do were upstairs, for her to ask me if I though she should be put the blue plant, or the red plant in the hanging basket she was making. By 2pm I was ready to change my name to anything other than, Sarah, as I'd got so fed up of hearing it.

Just because I live with my Mum doesn't mean I live 'Rent Free'. Whilst I don't pay her any rent I do pay for everything except the electric and council tax. I more than pay my way and if anything needs replacing, I pay for that too - although having said that my brother did replace all the radiators in the house and my grandfather paid for the roof to be replaced and a new boiler. Had he not neither of us could have afforded to and we'd be living in a damp, cold house, because sadly my Dad died way too young, never expecting to do so and as such had no life insurance. For the 2 years he was dying Mum and I paid everything between us, dealing with one wage less coming in and as such when it came to funeral expenses and house renovations he'd started that needed to be finished, Mum had to re-mortgage. She then got kicked out of her job at the age of 66 when they cast her aside classing her as "Natural wastage". She'd obviously not been able to pay into a pension so found herself still with a mortgage to pay and only her state pension.  I don't have any money because I trusted the wrong person and ended up with multi thousand pound debts that I knew nothing about which have all had to be paid back (I'm still paying for them almost 30 years later).  Again though, we both know how very lucky we are, for we have a roof over our heads, and food in our cupboards. So many people don't have that. 

I drive an 8 year old Dacia (that my Aunt and Uncle loaned me the money to buy from new; I paid them back monthly and it took me over 7 years to do so. It's a great little car that does what I need it to do and has everything I could want (except being an auto; I really wanted an auto. It currently needs new brakes and could do with a new set of tyres, but right now I don't have enough money to get them sorted, and if I did with fuel being as pricey as it is I have to think about where to go in order to ensure I don't leave myself short at the end of the month. 

The person who told me I have it all has a rich husband so she doesn't need to work. Her kids are teenagers so really don't need looking after. She has a cleaner and goes on 4 holidays each year, to places I could only dream of being able to afford to visit. She goes to the theatre once-a-month and not your local village theatre, the big west end productions in London where she will stay overnight in a 4* hotel. I know these things because I know her, but that doesn't mean I can judge the life she's living and I would never say to her "Wow, you have it all; what would you know about struggle?" because I don't know what goes on behind their door once I've left and am not visiting any more. I don't know if they have enough to cover their mortgage, or how maxed out their credit cards may be. I don't know if she secretly cries before going to bed every night because she's trying to juggle multiple things. 

I am fully aware there are people who would sell a kidney to have what I've got. To them I really am "So lucky" and do "have it all". I'm not here to moan about everything I don't have; I just wanted to make people aware that sometimes it's best to think before you speak, or at least get the facts before you spout shit. We are all doing the best we can and unless we are living someone else's life we have no idea what they are going through; jeez we can be living with someone and still not know what's going on in their life, in their head. 

Would I swap my life with hers? Not in a heartbeat, because I love my life and maybe that's why she felt it was ok to say something. Maybe because she sees how content I am she figured I have it all. It's not, nor will it ever be about having it all. It's never about what you've got; it's always about how you appreciate what you have whether that be the world, or a dry room to sleep in at night.