I am a mother and wife with two grown children. I am also an educator. From the age of nine my life has been taking care of other people. My mother got sick when I was nine and from that time I took care of my mom, dad, sister, little brother and the house chores.

At 19 I married, and my role never changed. At 20 I became a mother, and then again at 25. Now 47, I still take care of my family.

I have talked to my husband and my two children about how exhausted I feel emotionally and physically. I even said my workplace is my escape from them and everything else. I just want to run away from my family, though not from my friends or work.

I am tired of saying the same things over and over to them. They respond that I am a mother and wife and that is my role in life. They say I should get over it and enjoy life, because we have today but tomorrow may never come.

Should I get up and leave, or stay and be the person I have been all these years: the caretaker.


Millie, in one of his mountaineering books, John Krakauer describes the New York socialite he met while climbing Mount Everest. This woman not only brought climbing gear, she also brought gourmet food and an espresso machine, and she had fresh copies of Vogue and Vanity Fair delivered to her on the mountain.

A Sherpa rolled up her sleeping bag each morning and packed her rucksack. Another Sherpa even pulled her up Everest at the end of a short rope. That is how she “climbed” the mountain.

Your family expects you to be the faithful, underpaid Sherpa. They will be mad if you aren’t. Too bad for them.

Let them stomp, kick and throw tantrums. The longer they protest the more you will learn how much they care about themselves and how little they care about you.

Don’t try to win the argument. Pick the things you want to do and do them. Let them schedule around your activities and interests. Then let the chips fall where they may.

Not only will you feel your life is worthwhile, you will stop feeling like a constant failure because too many people are asking for too much. Discover what you have zeal for. Your new life is about finding your own way to the mountaintop, not carrying someone else’s espresso machine.

Wayne & Tamara