Who is the Parent??

“The son (daughter) went to his mother.

He picked her up and rocked her

back and forth, back and forth,

back and forth.

And he (she) sang this song:

I’ll love you forever,

I’ll like you for always,

As long as I’m living

my Mommy you’ll be.

This picture and quote is from Robert Munsch’s book, “Love You Forever”  (words in brackets are mine).

I’ve always thought this book was very profound but did not imagine that I would be living this book.  No, I am not actually rocking my Mom on my lap but as she gets sicker and weaker the roles have become less defined, much more blurred and obscure.  They are not black and white like I thrive on.  They are in some very uncomfortable grey area that I am struggling to deal with.  The last 3 years that Mom has lived with me I have slowly been taking on more and more of her care.  She used to make her own lunches, she used to do my dishes every evening, she used to go shopping with me.  Now she hardly eats, she lives basically on Glucerna – a meal replacement drink.  She doesn’t go downstairs now so the dishwasher she bought me does the dishes or Sandra our respite lady kindly keeps my kitchen clean.  Mom does not leave her little abode upstairs in my house.  She shuffles from her bedroom to her sitting room to the bathroom – back and forth between the three.  Everyone comes to her now.  Foot care, hair dressing, nurse, bloodwork etc etc.  Mom’s life has shriveled down to a very small world.  This past week she fell twice.  Now my world has suddenly become much smaller as well.  I do not leave her unattended anymore.  No more wandering for me.  I spend much time at my home rocking in my chair downstairs as she rocks away in her chair upstairs.  She sleeps a lot,  I am exhausted and I sleep a lot.  I do basically everything for her now.  I help her dress, I get her meals, I do her finances, I dole out her pills, I clean her clothes – every aspect of her care is in my hands.  Without me she is helpless.  She has been getting much weaker and after she fell this week she needed help getting into bed.  So every night I help her into bed, tuck her in and smother her with kisses and tell her I love her.  There is something wrong with this picture.  This picture does not compute in my brain.  Aren’t I the daughter??  Aren’t I the one that was tucked into bed every night?? I find this the strangest part of my taking care of her yet.  I can’t quite wrap my head around it.  Is this still my Mom?  Is she still in this frail, failing body?  I’m not used to being a parent.  I have never had kids of my own.  I don’t know what a parent feels like.  I don’t want to be a parent.  I want my MOM!  I want a parent.  I don’t want to be an orphan.  I want someone to rely on.  I want someone to look after me.  It is so comforting even when I object to what she is  saying when she tells me off.  She will tell me “Don’t buy anymore clothes.  You have too many clothes”  She will still offer advice like when she gives me ideas for my Summer Reading Program I am doing at my church.  And when I bought a really way out pair of boots she jokingly exclaimed “Are you really my daughter??”  Moments, glimpses, that is all I have now.  I have my Mom in moments and I see her in glimpses.  Like glancing sideways in a mirror.  Another way of looking at it.  A shadow.  There but not there.  For me as a parent it’s more like hours, days, weeks – not moments.  I am parent almost all the time.  But you know,  I am only a custodial parent.  A taking-care-of parent.  Mom bore me 58 years ago now.  My parenting is just a moment in the time-line of our life together.  No matter how hard this is to comprehend and accept I KNOW that this little shriveled up lady who struggles to even take one step in front of the other is STILL my MOM.  Will ALWAYS be my MOM.  And so as it is almost time to tuck her into bed for another night I repeat the words of Robert Munsch,

I’ll love you forever,

I’ll like you for always,

As long as I’m living

my Mommy you’ll be.          ( Goodnight Mommy, I love you! xxoo)

 

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