My Caregiver Super Power - Finding Pants That Fit


My Caregiver Super Power - Finding Pants That Fit

I've discovered my Super Power. I guess I had a feeling that finding Mom a decent pair of pants that actually fit would be a pain in the...pants. In fact, I tried to cajole my two sisters into taking her shopping more than a few times. Time passed and it didn't happen. So, clearly I'd have to step up my game.

"She'll (I'll) buy you lunch afterward."

*crickets chirping*

"...Annnnd not just any old lunch. A great lunch. A really great lunch. Your choice."

*crickets chirping louder"

"No? This is a sweet deal already. But how about gas money? Say $50? "

*Blank stares*

"...Fine, I'll throw in a toaster oven. A car? I'll give you my car. No? OK, and this is my final offer. I'll give you my house, all the money in my bank account and a trip for twelve to Hawaii."

*crickets are deafening*

I may have embellished this a bit. But seriously, I don't even like to shop for myself, let alone for someone else. I'm not one of those stereotypical women who goes to the mall or Macy's or K-mart and just loses herself in the joy of buying new clothes.

A typical scenario: I go in knowing what I'm looking for -- a white blouse. I walk thru the doors, not bothering to get a cart, find the blouse section. If I can't find it within a minute or two, I ask someone to take me there. Look thru choices, take them to dressing room, make a choice, or not...and walking out. I'm almost never tempted by the flashy, enticing displays on the way to the checkout line. I buy my lovely new blouse, leave and I'm done.

And by the way -- nobody told me that buying pants for my mother would be part of this caregiving gig. And also nobody told me that buying pants was my amazing, Super, over the top Power! But it certainly didn't feel like it at the time.

Mom has Congestive Heart Failure (CHF). She tires very easily.

So, as soon as we entered the store, she wanted to sit down. Found a comfortable place for her and went on my way. Mom wears a size 10. Simple. Everyday slacks/pants of some sort were the only thing on my list. But there were a few details that were a must -- short but not too short, dark color, and must cover ankles even when she sits down.* So, with Mom waiting, I tried to be fast. Surprisingly (kinda), it took me a while. I'm taller than my mom, so I used myself as a guide for the length, choosing pants that would be short on me. My first issue was that every rack and display of pants said "Skinny" on them. I'd go to one, and then the other and then a third. Who is wearing all these skinny pants? I wondered. I looked around, noticing the only Skinny person I saw worked there.

"Where are your normal sizes?" I asked her.

"Normal?" She asked.

"You know, like a regular 10 or a regular 12 - not skinny, or tall, or whatever. Just regular." I answered.

"We don't really have regular pants," she said. "Let me show you what we have."

"OK," I said, following her like a lamb to the slaughter. "But no skinny pants, OK?"

She smiled as she passed rack after rack after rack.

"They're for my mom," I said hoping to invoke some sympathy. "She's 89. She's sitting right over there."

She made herself look, then gave me a weak smile.

"Here you go," she said. "Do you want high waist? Straight leg? Tummy control..." She kept blabbing on.

I looked at her tummy. She didn't have one. Clearly a terrible genetic defect. Poor thing.

"I don't know," I said.

I'd been shopping less than an hour and already I wanted to run out the door. But that display would be a lot of effort and it would lose its affect when I stopped to loudly explain to my hearing impaired mother that we were leaving, having her take my arm and then slowly sauntering to the car in a slow-motion display of protest.

After she walked away, I whispered, "I just want a normal pair of pants."

But I was not going to give up. Not now. Not ever! I pulled myself together and looked for the light orange tag that signified a size 10. I was selective. I didn't want to waste our time or Mom's energy on things that I knew wouldn't work. Some things I didn't know like zipper or elastic waist? She had both at home. After I'd amassed an armload that certainly weighed in at more than 100lbs on each arm, I went to get Mom.

Across the store again.

Mom holding onto one arm, we made our way to the ... bathroom. Yeah.

Then to the dressing room, where I found a square, upholstered stool and sat Mom down. She had wiggled unsuccessfully toward (not into) three different size 10's when I came to the realization no woman, no matter the age, will ever want to hear.

"Mom?" I said. "I don't think you wear a 10 anymore."

"What?" she said. "All of those were tens? Oh my. They all seem so small. I thought they were 6's or something."

Sorry Mom.

I left mom in the dressing room while I tried my best to quickly find the exact same pants but in a 12.

Back in the dressing room, Mom was putting her own pants back on.

"Mom?" I said. "I've got 12's here. The same pants in 12's."

"Oh, OK," she said. I don't think she remembered we weren't done.

So, we repeated the whole process with the 12's. Some of them would zip, but were very tight. Some were too tight around the ankles. Most wouldn't go on at all.

"I'm going back for 14's," I said.

Then I looked at her. She was slumped. She was so tired. She was done. But darn it all, I did not want to see my mother one more time in high waters! And we were here now. We might not get this time again anytime soon.

"I'm going to get some help getting 14's," I said. "It won't be much longer. I promise."

It was my call to my sidekick move. Batman to his Robin. Wonder Woman to her Super Girl.

As I left Mom, a different sales girl was taking clothes out of empty stalls.

"Hi," I said.

"Hi!" She said. She was enthusiastic, bubbly.

"Could you help me?" I asked.

"Of course! What can I do for you?"

"My mother is 89 and is in the changing room back there. I need a different size in these three pants. She's really tired and I don't want to leave her alone again."

She looked flustered for a moment but then rallied and said, "It'll be just a minute. I have to do something first."

"Okay," I said. "We'll be waiting."

And so we waited.

And waited.

And waited.

I'd given Mom her coat to cover her bare legs. Then a good ten minutes after that sales girl had left us, I heard her voice. Her bright, bubbly voice was helping someone else.

"Forget it Mom. New plan. Go ahead and get dressed." I said.

She got dressed. I helped her get back to the chair across the store.

I went up behind the sales girl who was at the checkout taking care of one customer after the other. She cheerfully helped each one. I caught her eye but she didn't acknowledge me.

"You couldn't do it?" I asked.

"No," she said. "I've just been to busy. Sorry."

"Hand me the pants," I said. I was no longer in the mood for the cheerful girl who didn't follow thru.

I took the 12's and hurried through the store quickly swiping up 14's in all of the styles, plus some others. I even grabbed some 12's in styles that looked like they ran large. When we got home, we were both exhausted. I explained to Mom my Plan B; bring home all the 14's so she could try them on at home and then I'll return what doesn't fit. "Not today," she said wearily.

So, the next day as she soaked in the bath tub, I got them all out and put them up to the one pair of pants she had that actually fit (but were stained).  And as I did I realized I'd even brought some 10's home. Good grief! And I realized that the original three pairs of pants in a size 14 all looked perfect. After Mom tried them on, and I realized I was right, I knew I'd done it. I'd done the impossible. I'd managed to buy my 89-year old mother three new pairs of pants. I felt a rush of adrenaline. I wanted to call everyone I knew to tell them. But I knew they'd all think I was crazy.

So, I employed the alternative, writing this up and posting it for other caregivers to read. Why? Because Caregivers understand. Caregivers "get" that buying my mom pants really IS a super power. Tomorrow it may very well be something else. But for today, I have conquered the evil in the world (skinny pants) and good has prevailed once again.

Footnote: Mom has had more than two weeks with her new pants. She was beyond thrilled when she tried them on and even did a Miss America walk, complete with pageant wave and anthem. As of today, she has yet to wear a single pair. When asked why she's wearing the old pants, she replies,"Oh, these were just the first ones I saw." It's not true. I know because I moved them around. But alas, it seems that I need a new Super Hero Power: to make my mother WEAR new pants! *sigh*

What's your Caregiver Super Power?

*Mom has had two injuries/cuts to her ankles that turned into quite an extended wound care regimen. Both were caused by normal everyday activities and I think would have been avoided if her pants simply covered her ankles.

**Mom's expanding waist and thus, pant size is due to water retention because of an ill-performing heart.


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Oh Babs! You may have just saved me another eventful trip. Yes, bras become an issue. I used to work in a nursing home and I felt so bad for the little ladies there who were stiiiiill having to put on those over-the-shoulder-boulder-holders. Jeez...You'd hope that in our old age, you could just let 'er fly. That's my plan anyway - just sayin'...perhaps a warning to my children is a good idea.