XCI. The Distressed Gentlewoman

October 31, 2012 — My granddaughter, 12, got in trouble at school the other day for defacing her social studies book. She came home and told her mom. She wrote in the margin, “They COULD make this more interesting.”

Kellie, my daughter, called me.

“What did you do?” I asked.

“I laughed,” she said. “And then I told her I would call her teacher.”

The next day Kellie emailed me: “I had a meeting with the teachers, all of them, including the principle [sic] it was like knights at the round table.”

The teachers said many positive things about my granddaughter including that they all overhear the boys saying she’s pretty hot (she’s a cheerleader).

A day or two later, Kellie phoned me to complain that after a full day of work, in a 40-hour work week, she would have to go home, cook dinner and clean up around the house. She had done the laundry in the morning.

“The girls are eight and twelve,” I told her. “Get them to help you. They’re old enough and it will give them a sense of purpose. And, after all, S——- [the younger granddaughter] is a Girl Scout. Let her utilize her Girl Scouting around the house.”

“But, [the older one], especially, complains and doesn’t do the job thoroughly,” she said.

“Then, discipline them to do it over until they do it right,” I told her. “In the long run, it will conserve your energy once they know they can’t slack off, and it’ll relieve much of your stress.

“Remember,” I went on, “how when I worked and you were that age, I gave you specific chores to do after school, and—- I could always tell when Julie did the dishes; they were all clean.”

“Vicki got water all over the floor when she did them,” said Kellie.

“Oh. And who vacuumed…?” I asked.

“I don’t remember,” said Kellie. “I think it was … no— I’m not sure.”

“Was it Nancy?”

“I don’t think so,” said Kellie. “Maybe.”

“Was it Dawn? What did Dawn do?”

“I don’t know,” Kellie said. “I used to tell them all, ‘help me get these chores done so I can come out and play.’”

While the neighborhood kids no longer clean my house and my caregiving chores for Emma are done, as you know I have written and published Volume I, Begins the Night Music, my book based on my blog, journaling Emma’s and my experiences. Now my neighborhood adult friends and worldwide Linkedin network friends help. A caregiver herself in more ways than one, my New Zealand sociologist/researcher/writer friend, Beatrice, who does make social studies more interesting, has written a review of my book to be published in different periodicals; she tells me she is aiming at “INsite, the magazine for elderly care in New Zealand, as well as a slightly different version for Carers NZ newsletter, and Carers World Radio*,” if she can get in.

Currently she is visiting England and on November 1 will meet in London, in the House of Lords, with Baroness Pitkeathley, “baronessed for her work for carers,” Beatrice emailed me. “Jill Pitkeathley is behind the whole global carers’ movement,” said Beatrice, “and am taking your book with me, to hand over to Carers’ UK as she will.” How very kind and thoughtful of Beatrice. One of the major organizations Baroness Pitkeathley founded is the National Organisation for Distressed Gentlewomen.

“But I shall mention your name in the Hallowed Halls,” Beatrice added.

Beatrice thought I, as an American, might not be impressed. I am impressed, and we still have in New York city and state, and elsewhere, a brand of Edith Wharton women, the lives of some of whom overlapped with hers; some of late may have fallen on hard times, even; thus no longer able to pay the rent or the upkeep on the brownstone or the country house, and have become distressed gentlewomen.

Beatrice’s review of my book carries a refrain: “Caregivers are people, too.”

This gracious promotion of caregivers and of my book could only but help alleviate a distressed situation.

—Samantha Mozart

*Their site states: “Carers World Radio is a monthly radio programme produced for carers. Based in the UK the show reaches a global audience. Carers UK is a long established supporter of the show.”

http://www.carersuk.org/community/carers-world-radio: “The show features the latest news and developments on topics relating to caring from around the world. Carers World Radio has also pioneered innovative live broadcasts from events such as conferences where carers at home are able to interact with presenters and the live audience with a chat room. This was sucessfully [sic] used at Carers UK events such as the International Carers Conference and our Carers’ Summits in London and Wales in 2010.”