Growing up I always thought my mom was invincible and that she could do anything. In fact she could do just about anything she was my mom and my dad, my brownie leader, my 4-H leader, my taxi driver, and she mothered all the kids in the neighborhood. She made the time to be room mother at school for my class and my brother’s class and on top of all of that she sometimes worked two or three jobs to make sure we had a roof over our head and food on the table and clothes on our backs. She did such a good job I honestly didn’t know until I was much older that we were just scraping by. Were there times I wish we had more, absolutely, would I change anything, probably not. Growing up the way I did is a huge part of who I have become as an adult and as a mother.
Even though my mom was incredible she wasn’t invincible like I thought. Around the time I graduated from high school my mom started having numbness and pain in her hands, wrists, elbows, and shoulders. She was diagnosed as having rheumatoid arthritis. For those of you that don’t know about it Rheumatoid Arthritis (RA) is an autoimmune disease. It causes your body to attack itself, specifically the joints. Her RA manifested very rapidly crippling her hands quickly, and causing her pain when she walked. In a matter of only a few years my mom went from being very active to being a homebody that rarely left her room. She’s had all her knuckles replaced and both knees replaced and still she can’t grip much of anything, and she still walks slowly and not very far.
I now find myself mothering my mother. I’m making sure she gets to doctors visits and making sure she has her meds, helping her dress, helping her shower, and various other things that she used to be able to do. I’m finding its very hard to switch roles with her, sometimes I find myself getting agitated when she can’t do something or moves too slowly and then I feel guilty. Part of my brain gets that she can’t do these things but another part of my brain remembers her being such an able bodied person and can’t wrap around the fact that physically she isn’t the same person anymore. It can be very mentally exhausting switching roles especially when they were so able in the past. Fortunately I have a great support system in my husband, my children, and my aunt and her two daughters.
Have you found yourself caring for someone that you never expected to?