9:10 pm, My Living Room
My husband is at hapkido class and my daughter’s home from work and relaxing in her room. I’m on the loveseat near the bookshelves, scrolling through FaceBook and Instagram posts. I start to nod off, when this thought startles me: I’ve gotta go to Mom’s! Damn! On the heels of that, What will I give her for dinner? Panicking, I grab my keys, run out to the car, and, Boom! A truth smacks me between the eyes. I realize that I provide groceries and meals for two households, and I don’t wan’t to do this anymore…
That day included responding to Mom’s first-thing-in-the-morning distress call. The conversation is always the same. I mean verbatim. (See Momming My Mom, the first in this series of posts.) I got dressed, took my morning pills—self care!—fed and hurriedly walked the dog, grabbed all the stuff, including a new, easy-to-read calendar and a banana for my mom, and got in the car as the phone rang again. Mom’s ring tone. Same convo as before, same reassurances that I was on my way… I rest my forehead on the steering wheel, then start the engine.
I helped Mom up that morning, talking her through her morning pain. Got her washed and dressed and medicated. She does most of it; I assist. Gave her the afore-mentioned banana, and toast, coffee and juice. Introduced her to the new calendar, on which I’d written the two upcoming events of the day: in-home PT at noon and the retina doctor at 2:45. It’s a lot, but I’m used to it, and it went pretty well. Friends and relatives have had it harder, I know. The way-tougher part is the rising flood of emotions swirling in my head.
The whole time I’m helping my dear, understanding Mom, I’m also swallowing a bitter mix of frustration, annoyance, grief, and guilt. Shame, too. The moments when I’ve told Mom the same answer to her same questions for the third time in the last 15 minutes. Every. Single. Day. The times she snaps, I’m trying!” when I’d simply reminded her to try breathing through her nose to get more oxygen in, instead of panting like a dog. (I didn’t actually say that part to her, about panting like a dog.) Then there’s the physically getting things done. I feel like an elderly, tired superhero when I finally get Mom ready, out the door, and actually in the car. She feels exhausted. She doesn’t remember what it took to get her there, so the next time it probably won’t be any easier.
The good news is that she’s getting nerve blocks in her shoulder in preparation for an ablation of that nerve. The doctor is hopeful that it will do the trick. I’m trying not to think about the effort, as described above, that it takes to get her out the door. The good news is that the added stress has pushed me to finally get back to the paperwork that will, I believe, allow me to get her more help.
Thanks for reading! —Cathy
9:10 pm, My Living Room