Mom and Me

I wrote this poem five years ago and I am still taking care of my widowed Mom. We began a new phase of this care when I recently moved her into an assisted living facility. She is 83 and I am 60. (Yikes that looks scary in print.) There was a family meeting last spring that resulted in a unanimous decision that she move to an assisted living facility for at least the fall and winter. When the time came she was expecting and accepting of the move, but far from happy about it.

Since my father passed thirteen years ago she has lived alone. She moved to my town four years after his death. Our relationship can be touchy at times. But then how many of us don’t have such interactions with our mothers? We are very much alike and completely different women all at the same time. She hates it when I treat her like a child and I hate it when she acts like one.

In spite of it all we do love each other dearly. She calls me her “go to girl” and I have filled that role willingly and lovingly for years, but I am tired and the more her needs increase the more I find myself feeling resentful of the amount of time her care consumes. So that means that assisted living is a good thing. Yet I still have trouble quieting the pangs of guilt for being relieved that I can look forward to less responsibility and time devoted to Mom. How messed up is that?

My intellectual and spiritual self knows I have nothing to feel guilty about. I am dealing with these life changes as best I can, just as Mom is. I am anxiously looking forward to having time, space and bandwidth to re-enter my life, but it’s not the same as it was before my juggling act with Mom’s care went from a few balls in the air to way too many. I quit my job six years ago to be available to her. I need to trust that as she gets used to her new life and living space I will do the same.

I can’t help but find it ironic that I am the counselor character in my circle of girlfriends and in life generally as I am a long time student of the power of self awareness and being in the present moment. I guess I need to drink some of my own Kool-aid and just let the changes happen for both of us.

Women have struggled with such things for eons. It’s part of the process of evolution, of the changing of the guard from generation to generation. Each of us evolves in our own ways within our own families and lives. We just need to go with it and draw on the power of love to get us through one day, one crisis, or one moment at a time.

When I was young she cared for me.
She taught me right from wrong to see.
I tried her patience, made her mad.
Broke her heart and made her sad.

Through it all she was always there.
She dried my tears, told me life’s not fair.
Then I grew up and moved away.
Unaware our roles would switch some day.

She shouldn’t drive, she can barely see.
Her hearing is bad. How can this be?
I do my best to make it right.
To help her live a happy life.

She cared for Grandma, in her time.
Now I see the role is mine.
Sometimes I feel my life’s on hold.
Who will care for me when I get old?

The roles reverse, generations change.
We take our turn, we rearrange.
We love them so, our mothers dear.
How blessed we are to have them near.

Jackie McDaniels, 2005

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