Monday, March 29, 2010

Warning: Toxic Emotions!

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I have officially extended the invitation to my mother to come live with me. I do not know what else to do. She has not answered me yet.

Speaking about her before, I have mentioned how she tends to bend the truth a bit. Well, it has come to light that her version of the truth changes depending on who she is talking to. She does not consider it lying, she does it to make her conversations sm-o-o-o-o-o-th. She does not want to defend a position, give an opinion or voice displeasure. Not in person anyway. And never to the person she has a problem with.

Apparently she was not at all interested in the crafts the facility was offering, yet she told my brother she was looking forward to it. She emailed me and told me she had no interest. My brother was walking away with high
hopes thinking she was actually enjoying the place and told me so, hence this post.

She emails me when her bed is not changed, when she wants a breathing treatment, when someo
ne at the home is not being responsive. She's in New Jersey, I am in the Chicago area, and she emails me to call the nurses station instead of asking for something. Oh did I mention that part? She is unable to ask for anything she wants. Or unwilling. Hard to tell. AND she expects people to know what she wants or needs at any given moment and when they don't - she gets angry and does something spiteful which usually does not hurt anyone but herself. Like refusing dinner because someone did not do something or bring her something in what she considered a timely manner.

Honestly, this is a nightmare. She is my mother and I love her, but this isn't my mom. This is someone I don't know. And I realize now that the lying - that has been a part of her that has been there all along because my family not being very close, we never compared notes before. We took what she said for granted as being the truth. Makes me question the accuracy of some of my own history. Feels a little like somebody tried to pull the rug out from under me but just knocked me off balance a bit. Things are still the same but - not quite.

People
want to do right by their parents, at least most people do. My family is no different I suppose. But my mom isn't making it easy. It has to be tough losing your independence and physical abilities. But my mom has not accepted the fact that her breathing is difficult and won't get any better - because she smoked for 50-odd years. And was still sneaking cigarettes years after being diagnosed with emphysema. She continues to wait for someone to give her the magic pill (my brother, her doctor, the nursing home) to make her breathing easier, and blames her caretakers when they can't. She has not accepted that it is only going to get worse from here, not better. I wish that were not the case, but it is.

She lived with me before and we tended to butt heads a bit. I don't imagine all of that has gone away. But my expectations are much lower now, I wouldn't be looking to her to do things for herself. She doesn't want to. Unless of course she is angry and doing it to spite someone - then she does something reckless and falls down because of it. Sigh-h-h.

My brother used to try to get her to go outside and walk, even if it was just around the yard or down the block a bit (with her walker, when that time came). He took her places, restaurants and weddings and friends houses. He took her shopping and bought her a damn dog she treated horribly. (the dog has since been given to a family with kids who adore her!) He tried to keep her as active as he could. But she is stubborn and vain enough to hate what she looks like when she walks "Everybody will think I'm drunk!" So her legs did not get enough use.

She complained at one point that this is no way to live.
Yet she will not put any effort into doing things that might be good for her or make her time more enjoyable. I love her. But there is a part of me that is so pissed off that she could not be stronger about all of this, that she has slipped so easily into the dependent role, only railing against those who try to care for her and ignoring her own lack of ambition when it came to trying to care for herself. What happened to the woman who raised 4 kids? I never realized that without some kind of partner in her life she was not capable of making decisions or doing - well - just about anything. And I guess I am disappointed.

It's easy to see that I am having trouble switching places - my mom was supposed to be my mom - and I was supposed to be her child. Adult child, yes. But obviously I'm struggling with anger about how she has come to this place. She did not fight it, and I wanted her to. When she was told she had emphysema, I wanted her to stop smoking. When she started to have weakness in her legs, I wanted her to walk. And when she was on her own for a while I wanted her to revel in the freedom and do all the things she complained her husband didn't want her to do. But she didn't do any of those things.

I wanted her to TRY to have a long and healthy life. Apparently she had other plans.

Where is the old Maxine lady I hope to be, or the lady who accepts her age with grace? Neither of those are my mom. And it makes me so freaking sad. Oh, and guilty. All of these emotions? Bring guilt. Tons of it. But I cannot be the only one to go through these emotions so I write about them and hope I can confirm for someone else that they are not a monster for having these feelings.

And just maybe someone else will confirm that I am not one either.

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17 Comments:

Teena in Toronto said...

It must be a hard decision to make. My mother and I were estranged for the last ten years of her life (my choice).

BetteJo said...

I think a lot of parent/child relationships are hard, my father and I had problems. But I've always been close to my mom. Makes this even harder.

Anonymous said...

Hi Betty jo, I'm Molly's mom and I just lost my Dad in January at the age of almost 82. I know oh so well what you are going through. Some how, at some point in time, some parents choose to do that role reversal where they become the child and we become their parent. The thing is that they refuse to admit it to themselves that this is what has happened. They become afraid to make decisions for themselves so they wait for us to and then protest it, and lay the guilt on as to how dare we decide this or that.( case in point, taking away drivers license when you know that they can no longer drive. My dad was mad, protested, threatened me, said we broke his car. Said he was going to get a "4- wheeler" to drive to town. Yet, never once did he ever really try to drive because I think somewhere deep inside he knew we were right, but just could not admit it to himself.) Losing independence is tough! He hated that my mom was gone and he couldn't (or perhaps didn't want to) take care of himself. It's a long , hard road ahead. It finally threatened my marriage and I had to send him to live with my brother. I think those last months were even tougher on my brother because he wasn't around very much to see the turn life had taken.It's sad ,but it happens. I wish you well and will keep you in my prayers. Also, don"t go it alone, get some helpers thru an agency who can help and give you some respite.

Tonya said...

It is a hard road to travel and I really feel for you. I am lucky in that my mom has accepted her limitations and is very easy to deal with. That and my sister lives with her and not me. That could make a big difference. You are not a monster, that is for sure. More like a saint in my book, I think that anyone that deals with a situation like you are in deserves lots of help and support. And take Molly's moms advice, don't try to do it alone, get all the help you can.

Cathy M said...

You're doing all you can for your mother. It seems that when some people get old, they criticize and reject the help from the one who gives the most. It's unfortunate, but you can't do anything to change her. You just have to take care of yourself - mentally (no guilt) and physically.

JenK said...

I understand what you mean when you say that you wanted her to fight, to be stronger. I hope when I get to this stage that I live every moment and don't sit around waiting for someone to push me forward. And I hope that my parents keep pushing themselves every day.

Hopefully this all works out easier than you think.

Lady Banana said...

As we want the best for our kids we want the best for our parents, but like our kids, our parents won't always take heed..

Family relationships are the most difficult as the *power* changes and it's not easy to assert an almost opposite role.

We all have feelings of anger, guilt and sadness be it with parents or children.

Just have to accept that these feelings will no doubt be on both sides of the fence.

You are doing the best you can and that's all you can do :)

BetteJo said...

Molly's Mom - I'm so sorry about your dad. My Mom will be 82 in June. Sounds like you've been through this too, I appreciate your insight, and I always appreciate prayers. Thank you. :)

Tonya - It's hard to reconcile the head with the heart in this situation. I know things intellectually but oh - they still hurt, y'know?

Cathy - I'm trying but I'm not sure she's going to let me help her. But yes, if she comes here I will enlist meals on wheels for her during the day, and a home health care worker to help her out. I know I can't do it alone. The question is - will she let me help at all?

Jen - yeah - you look at your parents and think of them as strong. Then they get old and some of them get old and weak and easily give up the reins. You want to be able to still see them as they were maybe.

Lady B - Exactly - the power changes. And I don't want it to. I don't want to be a parent to my parent. Yet I know, it is the the way life is. It's just sad. I don't want my Mom to lose her dignity.

The Beading Gem said...

I agree with Lady Banana. You are doing all you can and that is all that can be expected of you. I'm glad you find writing and sharing your feelings help. We do understand.

thotlady said...

I have similar feelings about my mom. Although she is very active in her aging years.

But a part of her personality is unrecognizable to me.

For some reason when some people reach a certain age, they turn into people we never thought they would.

It is the poor, poor pitiful me syndrome. My mom also raised 4 children with my father. She was a very strong and independent woman. Where has that woman gone? She realizes that she gets more attention and sympathy by being sick, weak and helpless, so she plays at being sick, weak and helpless.

She does have some medical problems, but she takes full advantage of these problems.

When she goes into the hospital she complains about being back in the hospital, but my brother says each time, she seems very comfortable there, because her every need/wish is being taken care of and her children visit her more when she is in the hospital. Win-Win for my mother.

I feel your pain. You are not alone.

Sometimes I ask myself where has my mother gone?

Diane at Crafty Passions said...

Wow you sure have a lot on your plate right now.I loved my mother no question there, but living with her would have made my life hell,she was difficult and high maintenance, it was always what she wanted to do or have done etc... esp. after my father died the job of (driver/delivery/general all round gofor person) fell to me even tho I have 3 other siblings... all male of course, one day I had to get angry and say, she IS your mother too,and I work full time same as you, make time for your mother,my day off was her day etc....give me a break fellas....
I would have done anything for my Mom and I did,but I wasen't a happy camper sometimes,she had my schedule down in her calendar and knew it better than I did.
As they get older they like to play the mind games , Mom was a pro when it came to that,my MIL who lives with us plays my hubby against me,were onto her and it dosen't work anymore.
Why they turn into the pityfull wooo is me sad little old ladies,or the demanding its all about me person in their declining years I dont know....
Its damn hard work.... and I feel for you.
You did the right thing, you really did and you cannot do more than that, your a good daughter.Now relax and let things evolve.
Your not a monster BettyJo your just a daughter like the rest of us facing the same issues, its not easy becoming the mother and your mother becoming the child.Just do your best follow your heart.
Diane

BetteJo said...

Pearl - thanks you. Writing about things helps me - and every once in a while I get lucky and it helps somebody else. Some of these feelings are hard to say out loud without feeling horrible.

Thotlady - I appreciate your take on it, seems you have a good handle on your situation. I hope I can become practical about it but yeah, where has my mom gone?

Diane - really - what is it about people when they get older that they become such different people? You expect the physical problems and maybe (hopefully not) dementia - but the needing so much attention and being manipulative .. I think I need "The Elderly for Dummies"!

LaurAyn said...

Mother/daughter relationships can be tricky. There have been many points in the last few years where I've felt that I was more the adult than my mother. She most surely would disagree. To her I'll never be an adult if I can't always cover my financial needs. You write about this in such an incredibly funny way. That has to be a blessing. BTW thank you again!!

BetteJo said...

No Lauren, thank you! :)

Lavender said...

This is such a heavy trip you are on, it cant have been easy for you to make her this offer. Please be very good to yourself, hugs!

Stimey said...

You're absolutely not a monster. Mom and daughter relationships are complicated, especially when there are things at play like you describe here. You're doing your best for her. It's okay to feel the way you do.

Bev's Jewelry said...

I'm sort of in the middle of this type of situation. My daughter and her husband and two grandkids live with us. The change was hard for us all. But we have made it work. That said, I find I have to force myself to not be dependant. Too easy to let my daughter do things. I work on that everyday. Hopefully, I'll keep on with that and not give in.
I hope your situation will work out too.
Keep on writing as I can see it helps you.