My heart trembles as I think of writing this blog. The tears are close to the surface. But it must be done as it is part of our journey – my mother and I.
For years now, my mother has been my confidante, my go to person when I was struggling emotionally, when the tears would come, when I needed confidence and encouragement. I called her every day, sometimes several times a day, I used to pack up my cats and my essentials and go home every weekend even though I lived not more than 20 minutes away. My Mom was my life line even though I didn’t always understand her or agree with her. I was attached to her like glue – Gorilla glue! I couldn’t imagine my life without her and without her support.
Fast forward to the present and a new reality has set in. The roles are slowing reversing. This is not a new phenomena with our elderly parents but it is a solemn one, one that breaks my heart but also creates in my a very tender, protective heart. My mom is becoming my child and I am becoming her Mom. I am reminded of Robert Munsch’s book “Love You Forever” where the son holds his aging mother in his arms and rocks her. I don’t physically do this but I do it emotionally now. At least that is what I should be doing.
I am struggling with this new role reversal. I still want Mom to be my support, the one who will listen to all my woes. The other night at the nursing home, I started to cry as I told her about my worries over financial stresses. I wanted her to make everything right – kiss and make all better. But instead, I caused her undue stress which showed up as her having trouble with shortness of breath. The stress I put on her she can no longer handle. She worries to the point of physical distress because I am all she has. If something happens to me, she is alone in the world or at least that is the way she sees it.
The days are gone now, when Mom can be there for me whatever the problem. I can’t crawl up on her lap and snuggle in her embrace and get a kiss on the cheek. Yes, I am still the daughter in principle but I have become much more. I must now be the support to my Mom that she was to me for all those years. I realize that I can no longer go to her with my every woe and fear. They are now too much for her to handle and cause fear in her and physical stress. I must reign back my desire to confide in her whatever is on my mind. I must now filter what I reveal. I must now refrain from negative emotions and instead encourage her and comfort her. I need to reassure her that I am OK and that since I am OK she will be OK.
Tonight when I went to visit her, I reassured her that I was OK and she was not to worry about me. God was going to make sure everything was looked after just like he had done my whole life. Mom looked at me and asked, ” Can I worry just a little over you?” I replied, ” Just a little and the rest you turn into prayer for me.” She said, ” OK, I can do that.”.
I feel like somehow I am hiding a part of me from her. I am not being honest with her about how I am but I realize that sometimes we must choose what we reveal to others in order to be the best for them. A mother does not reveal all her worries to her kids or else her kids would be a mess. She practices restraint and a common sense. I must now do the same. Oh, but it feels so awkward and unnatural for me. This is not what I wanted to happen. I just want my Mom to be my mom. The mom I have gone to for so long. Grief has many faces. Loss has many facets. I have lost a huge part of my Mom yet she is still here with me. Sometimes I am with her and I still want to cry on her shoulder and be her little girl. But now I must be the big girl, the one who has morphed into a mother yet no child was born. I have no natural children, no experience of being a natural mother. Being a mom to two furry cats doesn’t count apparently! But suddenly I am a mom to the one I call Mom. To the one who bore me. To the one who raised me.
My job now is to support, comfort, encourage, advocate, build up, and mother my mom. So am I a daughter or a mom? I am still pondering this strange phenomena in our journey together.