The first morning of our weekend visit to Uber Son and family, we got up early: Soccer, soccer, soccer was the all-day plan. Paterfamilias was off to the four-game tournament the oldest Grand was playing in. PF was over-the-top excited about watching his grandson on the soccer pitch. All day: Couldn't be a better plan. This is why he wanted to come for a visit.
I tagged along with my daughter-in-law to watch the youngest grand--she just turned five--at her game. Magnet ball is more like it as all those wee people scrum around the ball, their tiny legs jutting out to try to kick the ball. This was a 9 a.m. game; five-year-olds aren't asked to remain on the pitch for very long. We were back at the house within an hour. But all of a sudden I felt light-headed and nauseated. Heat sick? But it was only 10:00.
So I crept to my room--the guest room--plopped down on the bed and waiting for it to pass. When I came back downstairs, preparations were being made to get everyone into the van and join 'the guys' in time to see the third and fourth game of the soccer tournament--in 95 degree weather. Yes, it was a hot summery weekend. I apologized for disappearing --especially since a lunch had to be packed, small soccer players needed help removing shin guards, umbrellas and chairs needed to be stowed in the car and other preparations made. Of course, my DIL was on top of things and getting it all done. But one feels an explanation is needed for not being there to help. I told her I had needed a lie-down. She looked concerned but we agreed that, as she put it, I was feeling 'off.'
What do you do when you're feeling 'off' when you're visiting your grown children? You don't want to disrupt the carefully planned day or miss seeing what you came to see--or cause your children to worry about you or spread your germs should the "off" be something more unpleasant. You're there to help not be helped. So, I soldiered on 'cheerfully' through the soccer games and kept the feeling lousy feeling to myself.
But then we're back at the house and I am not doing my usual helping out--I am letting my DIL and Uber son cook dinner without so much as a helping hand from me. It feels downright strange to sit there and not bustle around--if not helping in the kitchen or folding laundry then reading to a Grand or doing something else with one or all of the Grands.
Behind it all was this question: How to be polite and loving but cut the visit short and go home? The fear of being a burden is just below the surface--even though I was hardly feeling really ill. I just longed for my own home and own bed--to pull the covers up and sleep off whatever bug was bugging me.
What is it that compels some of us to mount a drive to get away--away from letting our grown children or Grands see us as ill or infirm or even just mildly 'off?' PF and I have been fortunate--to be physically well and able to go bicycle riding with our grown children and our grands, to kick the soccer ball with them and go on hikes--to say nothing of being part of a family touch-football game. Feeling Off reminds me of how lucky I am but how lousy I feel at this moment about being there. Have I put too much in store in my persona as a can-do parent and grandparent. Am i too busy hiding vulnerabilities to enjoy the togetherness just because I feel off?
When we finally got home--we did leave early; thunderstorms were predicted for later in the day and the thought of canceled flights tipped me over to an earlier flight--my DIL texted me to see if I was feeling better. I wasn't. But I couldn't bring myself to tell her so. Off is off, but even from a distance, one can't press the burden button--or rather, the fear of being a burden. Why is that?