Did My Brain Fall Out?

Haven't we all asked ourselves this question? There are days I am quite sure my brain did fall out - I can barely put one foot in front of the other and I forget everything. I know you can relate!

Wednesday, July 30, 2014

How Caring For My Mom is Like Raising My Teens

We all have our own rows to hoe: single parent, married parent, step parent, sibling, child, friend, neighbor, family activity director, chaperone, chauffeur, in-house heart mender, soul tender, financial advisor, banker, lender and collection agency. For a lot of people I know, we are all of these things, or a mish-mosh of these things, like the old school Chinese menu, two from column A, two from column B, egg roll. Ready in 10 minute.

My new build-the-airplane-as-I-fly role is as caretaker for my mom. Every day I am amazed at how much I don’t know – and trust me, this whole experience has been a lesson in humility, humbleness and the occasional face-plant-grovel. I am the first to admit that I HAVE NO IDEA WHAT I AM DOING! I have also started to see the similarities between raising teens and caring for my mom.

They always ask for money: When I was growing up my grandfather lived with us, and he was always concerned with having cash in his wallet. When I became a teen my mom was my main source of cash for my wallet. My kids ask ME for money all the time. Now, every time I visit mom she asks me for money. For a while she would venture out to Walmart or go to lunch with the group at her assisted living facility, but when she stopped doing those things she still asked me for money. “Ma, what do you need more money for?” to which she would respond, “Why can’t you just give me money?”, then she would turn to whomever else was in the room and tell them that I am cheap. Turns out she was giving her friends money to get her Aspercreme, Immodium and Tums from Walmart. We all howled when she got caught “doing the deal” in the hallway. She said there are rats everywhere.

Where shall they live?: This one hits close to home…literally. After over 40 years of my mom living in the same house, I had no choice but to sell when she got too sick to live at home alone. Living 700 miles from me, the choices were few, so I moved her closer to me and sold her house. As a parent of a teen with autism, where shall she live is talked about often…I mean not where shall she live right now, but what about the future? Also, my sophomore’s days at home are limited – college is around the corner – so where shall she live? How will I ever find places that will keep them all safe, happy, healthy, and cared for like they deserve? How will I ever get all their STUFF to fit in one room. {Shoves more boxes in the closet and slams the door}.

They always need to go somewhere: I am ALWAYS in the car. ALWAYS. Driving all over kingdom come; band practice, church, doctors, errands, visiting. Mom asks the least and requires very little chauffeuring, however the kids are always whining…go here…go there…get me this...take me…can we...Coordinating who needs to go where (not even including my own schedule!) is exhausting and can leave me lying awake at night figuring out how I can be two places at the same time. Calgon. Sometimes I wish someone would steal my car (but bring it back about 48 hours later) just so I can get a break.

They fib and forget: For a while in my family we've had a running joke that my mom’s Intel is about as reliable as a supermarket tabloid. What makes it so funny is that it’s true. With dementia scratching at her door, her inaccuracies are probably not something to laugh about, but some of them are such doozies that the belly laughs cannot be contained. I will say this, she lied about her health way before she had dementia, usually to her doctors (I guess she wanted to impress them?). She was her own one-woman tabloid way before she had dementia so I guess it’s ok to laugh. And hey, my teens? They lie about stuff and flub information all the time, little half-truths and embellishments depending on how severe the punishment or awesome the reward will be. Mom genuinely forgets things which (ehem) may be the case when my kids “forget” to scoop the kitty litter or empty the dishwasher.

I love my mom. I love my kids. I love this rattletrap plane that I’m building with spit, duct tape, tears and laundry detergent. It would be nice to have someone else take over the navigating though.

Moms. Sheesh.
Teens. Sheesh.
Daughters. Sheesh.

The circle of life…sure has a wicked sense of humor.


  1. LOL! This is my second attempt at making a comment. Amazing how the tides have changed. I feel your pain in regards to distance. Now that your mom is closer, enjoy her good or bad. This chapter in your life is priceless. You will be fine.