When we have to care for our parents a change happens. A change which involves switching roles with our parents, and for many of us it is uncomfortable. Nothing in our education prepared us for this. We don’t know how to ease into this change.
With me, it’s caring for my mom. I always took direction from my mom. I looked up to her and asked her for advice. She had the place of authority in our relationship. So now that I am beginning to care for her, do our positions really change? Does this mean that I no longer look up to her? Now that I have the ability to care for her and can take on some of that responsibility, do I respect her less?
For many of us the answer to that question never comes. . .because we never have the nerve to ask the question. We cannot fathom Mom needing us in the way we once needed her. She made the bed, cleaned the house, walked us to the bus, and made sure we had enough money for lunch before we left for school. We try to act like it isn’t happening, or we wait for the other sibling to step in, because we don’t want to face it. And what is the “it” that we don’t want to face? Mom’s mortality? Perhaps. Our own mortality?
Mom didn’t like it when I asked her if she had protection documents such as a living will or power of attorney, in place. Neither did she like it when my brothers and I suggested that we have a person come in to help her with chores around the house. “I don’t want some stranger coming in my house” was the response. Then my brother Tom (God bless him) went ahead and arranged for Meals on Wheels to begin bringing in hot meals three days a week. “We can always cancel it Mom” was the way he got past her first line of defense. And Mom didn’t like that. At least not at first. Now, a few years later, Mom looks forward to the delivery of her meals. The delivery is a welcome part of her new routine.
It was stressful forcing the Meals on Wheels into Mom’s routine. But it was for her own good. And today she accepts it. I dare say she even likes it. So on to the next step, caring for Mom…and the hope is, that this gets easier. It does, but only by small degrees. Mom is still living at home, and she still needs help, but we’re getting her the help she needs, one little step at a time.
I welcome your responses or your stories. There are lots of us out here caring for our parents. . .