Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Woe is the Child of an Aging Parent

So I just mentioned I fell off the face of the earth for awhile. I fell while pushing my mother in a wheelchair around Target. Somewhere between the Polygrip and the Depends was a black hole...invisible to the naked eye until that unsuspecting moment where you wheel through it to stay until you come to grips with the fact that you have now switched roles with your aging parent.

Before I continue, I must preface this entire post by telling you that I love my mom dearly. She is, after all, my mom. She would give up everything she had for any of her 3 children or 6 grandchildren. Her heart is huge. Her patience is unending. Her sense of humor with her grandchildren is immense. She sacrificed years of sanity by running me in 27 different directions playing 3 different sports while I juggled 4,731 friends. All of those things, by the way, came back to bite me in the butt seven-fold with my own three children. Yes, laugh if you must. My mother does all the time. I usually just crawl in to the corner and suck my thumb.

My mom is almost 73. She fell and broke her femur 3 months ago. Today was the 12 week appt. with the Orthopedic Surgeon….who, by the way, is completely hot. I think that is really why my sister and I BOTH want to attend the appointments so badly. But that’s another story. It’s a good story. A short story. He’s totally hot. End of story.

The actual story right now is that my mother has been recovering from this break for 3 months: the first 6 weeks in a convalescent/rehab hospital. Soooo not good for one’s mental state, know what I mean? My mom broke her leg, but she was of pretty sound mind. Well, once most of the surgery meds wore off. And we wanted to keep her that way so we needed a plan to get her out of there. So the rest of her recuperation has been at my house, 2 hours away from her home. There are a few reasons for this, but mainly because I was the one with a walk in shower off a bedroom that could easily be vacated once I gagged and bound my 17 year old daughter and drug her out kicking and screaming.

Okay, I didn’t really gag her.

And what does all this mean? It means that at 44 years old, there is a reason I don’t live with my mother. You can’t take the mothering out of a mother. Try it. You’ll see I’m right. I have nicknamed my mother “The Informant” because “Tattletale” seems so inappropriate for a 73 year old woman. I have been “informed” of thousands of things I care nothing about with regards to my husband/children/pets. So I have an aging, recouperating, mothering informant living in my zoo of 2 adults, 2 adult-like (read: never-leaving-home-pain-in-the-butt-can’t-help-but-love-them) boys, 1 high school girl, 3 dogs, 2 indoor cats, 1 outdoor cat, 1 stray cat that is currently pregnant….and my mother’s aging dog who is deaf AND blind and desperately needs doggie diapers.

Yes, I’ve just about gone completely mad.

During the early years...*cough-cough*...days of my mom’s stay here, I felt the need to entertain her…and get her comfortable for her recovery. We purchased several medical supplies to assist with that, took shower doors off and replaced them with a curtain, rearranged furniture, purchased a couple of small pieces of furniture, uprooted my daughter from her room and kicked one son to the couch. You know, small sacrifices. Entertainment came to be expected and sort of morphed in to waiting on mom. Oh, she would always give the obligatory response of, “I can do it!”, which was followed by a lot of sitting and staring and sighing and interesting attempts before we got the hint she didn’t really WANT to do it. In the past 6 weeks I have cut toenails, fetched water, purchased ointments/lotions/salves/creams, reprogrammed the remote control FOUR (yes, four) times, got rid of feather pillows and replaced them with fiberfill, raised/lowered wheelchair legs by fractions of an inch 7,893 times, short-sheeted the bed BY REQUEST, counted over 1 million pieces of stucco on my acoustic ceilings (aka “popcorn” ceiling) while waiting for mom to decide if the straps on her brace were tight enough or loose enough before she got dressed or crawled in to bed. The sound of Velcro will forever haunt my dreams….

Today was the day that the mother/child relationship crossed the threshold of child becoming mother when she decided it would be a “good idea” to get in the shower BY HERSELF without telling a single living soul in my house what she was planning. At 6:00 a.m…..downstairs and across the house from the bed where my husband and I lay sound asleep and would not have heard her if she slipped on the watery floor or fell getting back in her wheelchair….my mom shuffled her way in to the shower. When she told me what she had done, I think she was almost proud of herself until I glared at her and told her, “You WILL never do that again, right? What in the hell were you thinking??!!” She proceeded to tell me, “But it was no problem. I got in and washed my hair and got out. It wasn’t a big deal.” Ummmm….yes. It was. She relayed this story to my sister and one of her own friends at lunch. It resembled a toddler telling someone that his mommy got angry because he did a no-no….complete with pouty-face.

She seriously needs a time-out.

But how in the world do you scold and punish your own mother? I guess I can ground her. I could just hide her wheelchair and she would have to request it every time she needed to get to the bathroom. On second thought, maybe that wouldn’t be a good idea. Wait! I could put a bell on the shower curtain to alert me anytime she went in there. Yeah. Like a trap for a wild animal. Or I could just hope that my mother won’t be quite so stubborn next time she needs a shower.

At this point I’m sure half of you are laughing and half of you are thinking I’m going to hell for being mean talking this way. But I’ll be honest with you. If I don’t get this out of my head and find some humor in all of this it will consume me, depress me, anger me and cause me to stab 400 pins in my eyes. Okay, I probably won’t stab myself.

In all fairness to my mom, there have been good moments, too. We've had some fun shopping experiences....we can recognize a good handicap bathroom stall from a bad one RIGHT away; my husband has cooked up some pretty mean dinners; good conversation over coffee in the morning while she shivers because my husband is so extremely hot blooded and she is, well, not; laughing with the grandkids; laughing at my animals and their daily antics; watching the Andy Griffith Show and America's Funniest Videos...2 staples in my house; and some laughter while she tries unsuccessfully to figure stuff out in her state of cripple.

My sister told me a story today of a woman going through her line at the grocery store. She had several packages of Depends, other “aging” medicinal items and a bottle of wine. She requested they be rung separately. My sister assumed she was going through a similar predicament and asked who the bottle of wine was for. The woman responded, “for both of us…I’m going to drink it because if I don’t I may hit my mom over the head with it.” She was on a third broken bone (a hip) with her mother. When my sister let her in on our situation, she responded by saying, “Well I’ve got news for you. This is probably the first of many.”

Now where exactly IS that pincushion?


  1. Yay I'm the Frist finally! OK Now I can see why you went straight for the tequila after the Marine World staycation lol! And for whichever kid is sleeping on the couch (I think it might be Cody) I sympathize with ya bro! Did it for 6 months, ow! Well hopefully the gma's damn leg heals up soon and that she's staying on her physical therapy so that she can go home and see all the beautiful BLOOMING bulbs in the yard.

  2. cheri,
    good luck, im afraid these are the good times with mom so truly enjoy all that you can. it sounds like a lot more fun with your bay-momoma sitting than mine, would gladly trade places. anyway glad your back


  3. Prayers going out for you...God knows I could NEVER live with my mom! You're a riot!! Best wishes...

  4. What an amazing post...the way you write--it's funny and heartwrenching at the same time. I can relate to this post for after watching friends and family deal with the same issues. You definitely HAVE to laugh to keep from really going insane!
    But how lucky your mom is to have you. And how lucky we are to get to read your funny posts. Hang in there, and glad to hear something from you after a LONG time!

  5. Hello Cheri,
    I love your style of writing.
    It's pleasure reading you.
    I follow you.Pls follow me.
    Please visit my blog: cutand-dry.blogspot.co
    I 'd be glad folowing me.
    Thank you


  6. I rewrite due to error
    Blog: cutand-dry.blogspot.com

  7. You are a Saint! With a capital S. We're all staying at your house next Cali crop, right?


  8. LOL! You kill me.
    I had BOTH of my parents recovering at my house at one point. Oh, and the husband person had also just gotten out of the hospital. God has a weird sense of humor.

  9. @ Lesle: I would slap you if you weren't so far away. Then kiss your wound and make up the bed in my spare room. Oh, that's right...I DON'T HAVE ONE!

    @ Nancy: Good Lord, woman. And you survived all of that? lol!

    @ Kim: I've missed you, too...off to catch up on blogs!

  10. OMG Cheri I think I am going to send you a bottle of wine! LOL What a great post!! I first look and thought wow I can't read all that but you could have three more pages and kept my interest too! LOL We had my mil here with us and I remember one night she fell while going to the bathroom and I came downstairs to help and poor John had to get me a cold cloth too cause I felt like I was going to pass out! I am not good in a caretakers role! You rock Cheripryor user name cheripryor!!

  11. I can't even imagine all that and how you deal with it day to day. Could you tell your mom the same thing I tell my kids when it comes to being the "informant"? "If you're not bleeding, hurt, or dying I don't want to hear it!" LOL and you know that comment about the hot doctor is useless without a pic! somehow you must covertly get one to share!

  12. Ugh! OK, I've been through this twice (TWICE!) already and I don't mean twice on the same person. AND they had dementia...BOTH of them - AUGHGHGH!!!!! Yeah, good times.

    You are a saint, my dear, for taking her in and helping out. That's hard work.

    Also? I loved your short story. About the hot doctor.


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