About Mom (Part 2)

tara
So--yes, we had her involuntarily committed to a psychiatric facility. She looked like a prisoner of war. She had lost so much weight, she was skin and bones. She was so angry and accusatory. When she is in this state, it's impossible to convince her that she can trust us and that we're acting in her best interests because we love her. Y*I*K*E*S.

Believe me, a HUGE part of me wanted to go along with her wishes to remain in her home and let her experience those consequences. She would likely pass away. And, yes, while this would have been tragic for her and morally reprehensible for me, it would have been such a relief. She has had such a difficult life and her struggles have made life very challenging for those around her. I've often thought she has had a life-long death wish, but she is too (moral, concientious, caring, responsible, chicken?) to follow-through. I know, you think I'm morally questionable. Yes, I am. Apparently.

It's just TOOOO %&*
amp; hard sometimes. Too hard to negotiate with her when she's manic and illogical. Too hard to answer the phone when I know it's going to be a 'crisis.' Too hard to be the person she called 50 times a day and wrote 4 letters to per day. (She treated everyone close this way, no matter if they asked for less contact, and she didn't respect any boundaries ever...so I would just let the machine answer and throw away the letters) It seemed like everything was a crisis to her. Regular life was just waaay tooo much stress and difficulty for her.

It's exhausting.

So--back to the story. After the psychiatric facililty, we got her settled into Assisted Living. One of the conditions of her admittance was that I be the guarantor of the fees if she couldn't pay. This would come to bite me later when they raised the rates and we had to move her out. I tried getting time payments to pay for the last month's fees--and because of collosal failures of justice from everyone I dealt with, I am left with negative marks on my credit record.

When this happened, my grandmother was in very ill health. It was obvious she couldn't continue to be the Girl Friday to fetch incidentals for my mom and monitor the care she was receiving. So--my husband and I decided to move my mom to a different facility 3000 miles away where we lived.

This was working OK for a while. The new facility was wonderful and the staff was so caring and lovely. But, at the end of the day, my husband and I are in around $100,000. We were not sure how long we could continue without seriously damaging our own finances.

Somehow my mom is in this magical financial spot where she makes too much to qualify for social services, but so not enough to cover her actual costs of living. And, how would we divest ourselves? Decide to not pay for her oxygen? Her medications? Her Depends undergarments? That would be morally reprehensible and we would get cited for Elder abuse.

So--recently my husband decided he wanted to attend law school. He got into a top 3 school for his field, and magically--the assisted living facilities here cost several thousand dollars more a MONTH than where we used to live. So--now--she lives with us.

Thus our decent.

I thought this was going to be great. I was pregnant, she would get to be an active grama. I thought caring for an infant (or being distracted by an infant) would lift her spirits. I thought it might provide focus and intellectual stimulation. I thought being with us and her extended family would be more rewarding for her than being in a facility with people 20 years her senior and who have different reasons for their stays.

I thought wrong. She SAYS this is great and how happy she is and how much nicer it is to eat homecooked meals with her loved ones. She SAYS she loves her new room and appreciates that I cater to her and have made a huge address book with each address on 11" x 17" paper so she can look up phone numbers and addresses for example.

But, alas, Mom is still miserable. She sleeps 20? hours a day. Our house is brand new and absolutely gorgeous--I used to be an interior decorator--and she complains about her limited square footage and the fact that her bedroom is on the main floor. Among MANY MANY other things. (Stairs are difficult for her...) She has only bathed 3 times in 5 months. In short, she is a royal #$%^&* and I have a really hard time being cheerful and enthusiastic when I am with her.

However. I am proud of myself. I haven't ever laid into her. For the most part, I have kept it together when I'm with her. Occasionally my tone of voice belies my stress levels. I tell her I'm just very sleep deprived and stressed out because I'm essentially a single mom who has just relocated a household 3000 miles for my husband's school. All those things are true, and I don't confront her. I have said --with all the kindness and compassion I can muster--that my husband and I sometimes think she might prefer the environment at a facility because they have professional caregivers and scheduled mealtimes. And no stairs. That usually produces extremely functional behavior from her for the next several days. Occasionally, I accelerate my pace when I'm with her just to get the heck out of dodge.

I am extremely determined--despite being severely sleep deprived with a new infant. I view my family-of-origin as very abusive and neglectful and I am determined to have the buck stop here. I am determined to have a loving, supportive family environment. I am determined to have a beautiful, functional home and to be as functional as possible.

My husband's extended family is very healthy, loving and supportive. I feel extremely fortunate to raise a child in their environment.

But my mom is a constant challenge. She farts loudly and talks about her bowel movements, even though I've asked her not to. She demands money, and control even though she knows we've spent over $100K and in order for her to spend any money or do anything I have to do it for her because she can't drive or read. She occasionally reverts to her paranoia and becomes extremely irritable and suspicious of us. Even though my husband is THE NICEST MAN on the planet.

She talks smack about my dad incessantly. Anyone who comes to visit her ( favorite cousin, brother, friends) she talks about them in very mean ways after they leave. I say "Mom, why can't you just say that you're frustrated that you can't participate in dinner?" or whatever. "Why can't you express your feelings directly instead of making critical remarks?"

Recently my husband and I took a much needed vacation to see his parents. My mother was the biggest $%^&* to the CNA we hired to stay with her. At one point, she made the gal walk up and down the stairs TWENTY TIMES to fetch various items for her bath. The gal called me in tears and said she didn't know if she could stay the whole 4 days we hired her for. And this gal has been a professional caregiver for 15 years.

So--I have my good days and bad. Today was a bad day. My mom was super insistant that we go get her hair cut today and I literally have not slept a wink in 5 days because of the baby. I wanted to cry, I was so tired all I wanted was a nap. So--I asked her if we could do it another day and she was a #$%^&, so I said I needed a nap. At noon, I rallied and we headed out.

Sometimes I am just so hurt that she is so $%^&*-ing selfish, that she has no compassion for my situation whatsoever and can't see how tired I am. I will never receive maternal attention and mothering from her. I have to accept that. I have to monitor my own boundaries and accept that she may not ever understand or support my choices. But--if I don't take care of me, no one will, and then I won't be able to fulfill my responsibilities to her or anyone else.

So--occasionallly--it's JUST TOO MUCH and I grieve. Grieve for a healthy, loving mother. Grieve for my lost freedom. Grieve for my inability to create a loving, positive environment, despite all my efforts. Grieve for the possibility of not being able to retire or send my son to school because of her expenses. Grieve for my formerly perfect credit record.

Then, I get mad that I AM REPLICATING dysfunction with my grief. My house gets very disheveled. I get behind on the paperwork and finances. I don't cook meals. I grieve for getting behind. For feeling perpetually behind. Grieve for not really being able to talk to anyone who wants to hear the depth of my emotions. Grieve for wishing my mom's situation would just GO AWAY COMPLETELY.

I grieve for my so-called life.

Thank you for listening.

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