Part of having a widowed parent is going to their house not to relax, but to help. Replace old batteries, unload the dishwasher, kill spiders, hang pictures. Whatever it is that needs to be done? Do it. Take the time to help.
But take heed. Helping from a duty-bound place of obligation or pity can lead to resentment. Resentment that you “have” to help. Resentment that you’re the kid filling in some of the “parental” responsibilities. Resentment that your other parent is no longer around. I feel selfish and gross admitting it, but it’s true, or at least it has been true for me at times.
When I step back and think about it, I know that if I went from having a partner for the majority of my life who shared in decision making and household responsibilities as my mom did, I would appreciate some helping hands once in a while. This mindset stems from a little something called The Golden Rule.
From this space, I help my mom not out of obligation, but out of love. From this space, I see that I’m not performing my dad’s old roles; I’m actually stepping into my role as a daughter more fully. From this space, I don’t tell my mom that a lightbulb has burnt out. I grab the stool and go change it.