Friday, May 12, 2006

Make Mine Bologna -Life as Part of the Sandwich Generation

Isn’t being a parent fun? This past week I had to take a pack of cigarettes away, reiterate that permission is needed to come into my bedroom and conduct a manners lesson about talking with a mouth full of food. All that was just with my 75 year old mother!

I always swore I would never move back with my parents. Now my mom lives with me. How did that happen? It is a bit surreal to tell you the truth. I love my mother but I don’t “know” her. My mom went through a 20+ year depression. During that time, I grew up, got married and had two children of my own while working full time in a law enforcement position.

Fast forward to 3 years ago. My 94 year old stepfather got sick and my mother broke her shoulder AT the hospital. I was already handling their limited finances and at the time there was no other option than to have her come live with us. What initially started temporary turned permanent when my stepfather passed away. They call it the sandwich generation. Mine must be made out of bologna.

If my 15 year old daughter sneaks cigarettes into the house - I can ground her. If my 13 year old son comes into my room without permission, I can give him extra chores. If either of them continuously talk with food in their mouth, I can send them away from the table. I can’t ground my mother. She doesn’t even drive.

I have tried to talk to her about not smoking in the house (she is careless), not just walking in my room (one time my hubby went to work late - I am not about to be caught by my mother at my age - ewwwwwww!) and I have asked her not to talk with food in her mouth so that I can understand her. She always says “ok” or “I know”. Then she does it again. *Sigh*. Yes, at least I have my mother but at times it gets very frustrating and confusing.

Is it that she still thinks of me as a little girl and not a grown woman? Often she acts like a child herself and I wonder if she is in early stages of Alzheimer Disease or something (we are going to have an evaluation done). It is weird to be my mom’s mother when I didn’t have her as a mother for myself for such a very long time. Now it is like there is just an older stranger living at my house. She's my mother but I am mothering her. I know she didn't choose to go into a long, terrible depression but when I could have been learning from her about how to be a mother, she was unaccesible emotionally.

It is what it is. I try to accept that and I punt a lot. I do know that I want/need a different relationship with MY daughter. So I am trying. I know I have to be her parent and that is fine but I am also attempting to do more than that. One thing we have connected over is a guy named Clay Aiken. We both love his singing. We love going to his concerts and she doesn’t even make me drop her off at the gate so she doesn’t have to be seen with me. Hey, she is 15 years old so that is BIG!. We are making memories together. Something I didn’t have with my mom.

My mom seems to like Clay’s voice too. Maybe that is a starting point. It’s worth a try.

In the mean time - pass the chips - they go pretty well with bologna.

Families make good stories. Check these out: Hobbies and Sally Rand McNally

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The ConCLAYve-Nan said...

Thanks for sharing. My mother passed away 8 years ago and never got a chance to hear Clay. I know she would have loved him. She had great taste in men.

ladyjocelyn said...

Michi, I totally understand what you are going through at the moment, although my Mom doesn't live with me. It's rough seeing a parent turn back into a child again (or that's the way I see it anyway). Thanks for sharing.

Pink Armchair said...

Well, I bet a lot of people can relate to this! It'll be 7 years ago Memorial Day that my mom passed away, and I'm glad she had all her marbles when she did. The role reversal must be very disconcerting. Still, I'm glad you're having this time with her, as frustrating as it must be sometimes. Thanks for telling this story.

myclaystation said...

Thanks for sharing. My mom passed away 12 years ago. While it can be difficult as parents age enjoy the time you have with her. And keep making those memories with your daughter. Especially the Clay ones. My daughter has gone with me to every Clay concert I've attended. We have a great time together!

beauzzartz said...

Michi, I admire your spirit. I too am a (part-time) caregiver for my MIL living with alzheimers. It sounds as though you and your daughter have a great relationship. She'll help you keep that spring in your step.

theresa4624 said...

Hang in there! I also lived with Mom during the last years of her life. She was clinicially depressed for as long as I can remember -- in and out of the hospital while I was growing up. The one good thing to come of it was that my sister and brother and I developed a great bond and are close as can be. Do you have siblings that can help you out? Feel free to vent here whenever you feel the need.