Archive for January 23rd, 2009|Daily archive page

I want to praise you

Two people told me today that I am a good daughter. One was my husband, who is constantly concerned about my psyche. The other was a coworker. I told him I was taking Mom to lunch and he just said, “You’re a good daughter. It’s kind of like parents with kids: you love them even when you don’t like what they’re doing.” I guess that is true. I often don’t particularly LIKE the time I spend with her. And she is definitely very child-like. In fact, I call her the child I never wanted. My husband and I decided long ago not to have children and we have no regrets about that. Now, I am relieved not to have children on top of caring for Mom. But I feel uncomfortable about being called a “good daughter” for something as simple as taking Mom to lunch. I do get a Bob Evans meal out of it, after all. That is Mom’s favorite restaurant. Her preferred meal: pot roast hash.

I didn’t start the day planning to take Mom to lunch. I actually thought about slipping away for some Chinese with a coworker. But Mom called me mid-morning. She was a bit agitated. Another resident at her facility was bothering her. A “loud mouth.” But that’s as far as she got. She cannot articulate what bothers her most of the time. I just knew she was out of sorts. So I offered to take her to lunch. Little outings like that give her a bit of pleasure, some company, some sunshine, and a distraction from whatever it is that is irking her.

So am I a good daughter? I suppose I am on some levels. I began this process full of resentment, reminded constantly, whenever Mom needed me, about how little affection and positive parental attention I got from Mom growing up. She was an alcoholic, depressed, worked jobs that didn’t fulfill her, hung out with self-destructive people and, as a result, was absent a lot of the time. She was not mean. She was neglectful. She wasn’t there much. She slept a lot when she was at home. So, when it was dawning on me that she probably had Alzheimer’s and I was going to be stuck as her primary caregiver, I was angry. I am still angry sometimes – for a variety of reasons. But I am never angry at Mom. This is not her fault. She wouldn’t want this. When she is sort of aware of her memory problems, she DOESN’T want this. And I see this now as my opportunity to forgive her. And to take care of her. She also didn’t receive much affection or positive parental attention growing up because both of her parents were alcoholics. She has always needed some hand-holding – which, at times, was quite annoying. But now she just plain needs someone to take care of her. And it might as well be me.

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