Dear Jewish Fairy Godmother:
I work at home. My office is a two-room and bath suite upstairs in a
three-bedroom, two-bath home that my husband I have empty nested
in for the past year. My younger sister has had a very rough patch,
and left her abusive husband with twin nine-year olds in tow. I told her
we could offer a refuge until she got back on her feet. But I have
clients coming in and out all day long, phone appointments, and a
schedule hones over twenty years that includes a nap from 2:30-4:00
each day, usually in my recliner on the sun-porch. Her kids are used to
eating an early supper. We don’t eat dinner till after 7:00 because of
our respective work schedules. My sister is a good person and these
are big changes for her. But they are also big changes for us. I don’t
mind feeding them, but don’t want to have to cook two different meals
several times a day. How can I cope without going crazy but still be a
Dear Landing Zone:
You and your husband are good people. And compared to abuse, these
are very small problems to resolve. Re the physical set up, I would
move the recliner to your office (yes this may mean some shifting, but
it is temporary). Also reinforce the quiet times around times when you
have clients in the house. Re meals, cook dinner as you normally
would for your husband and self, though make enough for the guests
and possibly lunches. I see many casseroles ion your short-run future.
You sister and her children have the option of joining you when the
food is fresh or having the leftover the following evening for supper.
Breakfasts and lunches should be her issue to prepare, though it might
be nice to have a weekend bunch as a family.
One issue with “until she gets on her feet” could be a mismatched
perception of how long is long enough vs. too long. Give her time to
get past the shock of leaving an abusive husband, with plenty of kudos
and support. Then help her access community resources, from the
local Jewish Federation to support groups and shelters. Depending on
finances, you may want to help her get set up and relocated. But
safety is the first concern. Help her get a good divorce lawyer asap.
There are big important changes. Your life will go back to normal much
faster than hers.