Who Am I?


Who Am I?

question-556104_640The other day Dean, my husband, made the statement that he keeps thinking I'm his mother. He's made this poignant statement a few times in the past couple of years and I'm always left speechless. I don't know how to respond to his revelation, because of the emotions it brings to me.

He expresses it as an eerie confessional, and I should respond with something supportive or even sweet and romantic, such as "That's alright, honey. That's because I just love you so much" or "I can be your mother or whoever you want me to be. At least we're together, right?"

But instead my own feelings overwhelm my thoughts and I want to come back with, "Well, if you'd stop behaving like a little boy, you'd know who I am!" or "I don't want to be your mother. I'm your wife, remember?" I have to bite my tongue not to say those hurtful things I'm feeling.

But face it, underneath the anger there's also the fear and frustration. I'm aware that people with dementia may gradually forget who their loved ones are, and it sounds like he's on the verge of entering that horrible place, and I don't know how to bring him back. It's when I feel most helpless.

I have a confession to make too. Many times I feel like his mother. A wife wouldn't put up with such a disobedient and disrespectful child. But mothers can and do. I am forced to mother this husband of mine. So maybe WHAT I am is his mother, but it's not WHO I am. Then, my next question to myself is "Who am I?"

This is when I'm thankful to be able to identify with caregivers. No longer do I have to question my role. I may not actually be his mother or feel like his wife, but I can certainly call myself a caregiver. Maybe next time he questions who I am, I'll respond with this clear, truthful, and supportive answer, "That's just because I'm such a good caregiver, isn't it, dear?" He'll know what I'm talking about and it won't hurt either of us.


Like this article? Share on social


Sign in to comment


I want to thank all of you for writing. This is something I have not experienced with my husband but reading all your comments_mysql will, I'm sure, help me to cope if and when it comes. Denise, thank you for providing this web site where we can express ourselves and learn from each other.


Hi Teresa--It's always so great to hear from you. I just love how you find the answer that gives you both comfort. You express such compassion--for both your husband and yourself. \r\n\r\nWishing you a special weekend and a Mother's Day that reminds you of your blessings.


After my husband had a massive stroke, I would come to visit him daily in the hospital never knowing who I was going to see. I would walk in to his room and ask him what his name was and each time he came up with a new name; none of which were correct. Even after telling him that he was \"Ken\", he would quickly forget and come up with another new name. Often he would refer to me as \"Buffy\" which is our dog's name. I've been taking care of him for the past 2 years now at home and he still has a problem remembering names, events, etc, but I'm just blessed that he is around and that God has trusted him with me.


I think it's quite remarkable that your husband was able to recognize that feeling and also comfortable enough to express it to you. Maybe we need to take the emotional negative baggage out of mothering and recognize the best part, the \"nurturing\", the caring, like you said, the caregiving part. I haven't walked the same road you've walked because I'm caring for my mom, but the dementia part I fully understand, and the changes required in you to adapt to the changes in him. Thanks for sharing your thoughts and concerns here.

Lillie Fuller

When my dad was home and suffering with dementia he would ask me where Momma was, I would say, My mom, his wife, is in the kitchen, or bedroom or outside, wherever she was. He would get angry with me, he would tell me his momma. After a while I learned just to go along with whatever he was feeling and guessing or knowing at the moment, it sure saved a lot of hard feelings and arguments. That was one of the worst things we went through. He thought his wife was his mom. I feel for you. Thank you for sharing.