I have a cousin, she’s 22 years old, and her disability is, well, I think the closest name for it would be retardation, but, honestly, that’s not even an accurate assessment. Physically, aside from morbid obesity and the health problems which accompany that, she is able-bodied. Mentally and emotionally, though, that is where she has trouble. She reads at maybe a 2nd grade level, and her ability to complete simple tasks is pretty limited. Her emotional maturity level is probably somewhere around that of a tween.
Here’s where I come in. I am 32 years old. I have twin daughters, just turned 3, and am pregnant, with a boy. I am due in 7 weeks. I work 3 days a week, and the other two days of the week I am off with the kids, and I am also off weekends. The trouble is, my cousins wants to spend ALL of that with me. She texts, emails or calls me at least three times a day, every day. She is desperate for social interaction and begs to come over to the house. The problem is, I have a hard enough time handling my two children, particularly at this stage of my pregnancy. I’m tired all the time. Also, getting ready for baby - the setting up the crib, getting the clothes, painting the room and all that - falls on me, and me alone. She offers to help, but, when she tries to ‘help’ she just makes things more difficult, and it’s more work for me, and I’m already tired. But she wants to come over, and ‘help’. Except that, what that ACTUALLY translates to, is that I have to make her lunch and snacks, and entertain her, and basically spend my time babysitting her. At the end of the day, I’m SO very exhausted, and still, the things I needed to get done for baby aren’t done.
I have tried giving her simple tasks to do, to keep her occupied and help me out, but things like folding towels, or counting pennies, or whatever, she can’t do. She can sit and watch tv but that’s about it.
So, the simple math is, when she comes over, I am watching my own children, and her. It’s exhausting, and I’m starting to freak out about getting stuff done before the baby gets here.
Additionally, frankly I don’t WANT to spend every free day with her. Sometimes I want to spend it with my friends and their kids, or running errands, or just, alone (well, alone with the kids).
So, tell me, what’s a Catholic to do? What is the proper charitable response? Let her come over all the time, and don’t bother getting done what I need to get done? Get done what I need to get done, and sideline her? Try to strike a deal? The problem with the happy medium is that it’s not really that happy of a place. I mean, she wants to come over every day, and I want her to come over NO days. So, happy medium really means we’re both STILL unhappy with the outcome. I have to be honest, being her only friend, as she puts it, is absolutely draining. And I don’t have the energy left to drain. Every time I look at my phone and see ‘6 new text messages’ I just want to CRY!!! I’m SO tired, and being the entire social network of my cousin is so very difficult. HELP!!