When I returned from Canada a little over a week ago, I brought my Mom back to stay with me for a couple of months. She is 86 and basically in good health. Unlike my father, she has no dementia. She has some hearing loss and her balance is not as good as it could be, but no major illnesses.
What I noticed though, after just a couple of days of having her here with me, is the return to the flood of emotions that comes with caregiving, and although I am not providing any direct caregiving to her, they have still returned.
Guilt is a big one, even now. I’ve received several invitations for outings or for business meetings and just as I’m about to respond with a “yes”, I think, “Oh no, I can’t do that. Mom’s here.” Some of the events are easily justifiable but invitations to lunch or an evening out listening to a new band seem like I’d be abandoning her.
Even now, I feel badly that I’m upstairs working on my computer instead of downstairs entertaining her. Why do I impose this guilt upon myself?
Another emotion is a bit of frustration. My mother is an artist and has done some interior design. While she sits at the table perusing all the magazines I have saved for her, she is analyzing my house for improvements. One conversation went something like this:
Mom: You should refinish this table.
Me: No, I think I’m just going to cover it with a table cloth. I’m going to refinish the (80’s pickled oak) chairs though.
Mom: No, the chairs are fine. You’ll want to leave them the way they are. But we’ll paint the table then. Brown, I think.
Me: No, Mom. The table is old. I’ll just cover it.
Mom: Alright then, we’ll go to the paint store and pick out a nice brown for the table.
(We won’t get to it; she’ll have many more projects planned by then. Well, she already does. You should hear her plans for my dining room ceiling – NICE but I don’t have the time for THAT.)
Then there is worry. Because I have a home with 3 steps that go down to the patio (clearly I didn’t plan well for aging-in-place) and her balance is a bit off, I worry every time she goes out the door. When she’s carrying her coffee cup to the table inside, I just cringe. Should I let her carry it or hover over her all day long in case whe wants more coffee? Is she okay alone in the shower? I don’t have grab bars on the one that she is using but she doesn’t want to use the one that I had outfitted for safety for my Dad because it really is inconvenient.
Sadness is another emotion of caregiving. This past week end we went to an art festival here in town and it was clearly too much for her. I had been used to seeing Mom be able to do everything and suddenly (to me, anyway) she is slowing down. Of course, it makes me sad to see this because Mom has always been so active.
On the plus side, there is love and gratitude. I’m so grateful to be able to spend this time with her and I’m intentionally taking the time to do things that we both enjoy. When you are young, you take your parents for granted and often choose friends or your own young children over them.
Having cared for my father, I have come to realize how precious these good and healthy times are and how quickly they can vanish. When you take the time to make memories, you can not only enjoy them in the present but you can hold onto them for a long time. So making memories is what I will do.
LEARN TO LOVE YOUR LIFE AGAIN
Do you feel like you need to hit the REFRESH button on your life? Download our free guide and begin to create your best life yet!