Sunday, November 09, 2008

Composing a Life

Someone recommended to me Composing a Life, by Mary Catherine Bateson. Bateson writes about her experience and four friends, focusing on how women since feminism have come to invent their lives as they go along. The recommendation came because I was talking about what I anticipate for my life as a result of John's illness and I said "It isn't who I expected to be."

Bateson's book does have a chapter on caregiving, but she focuses mostly on a very broad notion of caregiving that we do in the workplace and all sorts of settings, not just in the home. She emphasizes interdependence, complementarity, and collaboration (my first reaction is that doesn't do me much good with John).

There is something freeing about Bateson's notions of how life is more creative if it doesn't follow a linear path. And I'm thinking about her idea that parenting is an analogy for much of what we learn in maturity: "the willingness to relinquish control gradually and welcome the transition to an unknown future."

1 comment:

Elderly lady in training said...

I have only recently come across your blog and I think it's excellent! I am surprised there aren't more comments from other readers.

My life is different in many ways from yours, but similar in some. I am caring for a very elderly and widowed father, and gradually learning to make better choices about what help to provide.

I try to give help which is both wanted and needed - and ideally appreciated - but there seem to be so many pitfalls:

- being resented for giving help that's needed but not wanted

- getting run ragged trying to give help that is wanted but not needed

and, I suppose

- wasting everyone's time by providing help which is neither wanted nor needed (although it never seems so at the time).

It's good to read another person's reactions to taking on what for most people is a far from easy role. I find your insights into how your husband feels particularly helpful.

So thank you so much for taking the trouble to write about it.