Thursday, August 2, 2012

A Parent and (Adult) Child Relationship

On Tuesday, my mom set off on the next phase of her summer journey.  Since she now resides in Hawaii, when she is here in California she stays with me.  Our personalities are quite a bit different.  She is an extreme people person who wants to be around them (me) all the time.  As much as I like being around people, there are also times I like NOT being around them.  Sometimes that makes living together when she is in town a bit difficult.  The thought, “We have been together for 24 hours.  What can we possibly still have to talk about?” pops into my head every other day or so when she is here.  Therefore as much as I love having her home, I’m also happy when she takes off again.

I’m lucky if I can shake her for an outing with some friends when she is here.  If I do, I feel like I’m back in high school.  To this day she asks, “What time will you be home?”  Usually my response is, “Um, Mom, I’m an adult.  It’s my house and I can come home whenever I feel like it.”  She then goes into the spiel about how I’m still her daughter and how she can’t sleep if I’m not home.  I remind her of all the times I go out when she’s in Hawaii and she sleeps just fine.  In the end, I give her a time frame and text if it changes.  I’ve learned that’s just easier than arguing about it.

This trip in particular has made me very aware that she is getting older and, as the only child, I am the one who needs to make sure she is taking care of herself.  Back in April, she had rotator cuff surgery on her right (dominant) side.  It’s a pretty brutal recovery process that’s she’s still working on.  If that weren’t enough, in June she had carpal tunnel surgery on her right hand.  She’s kind of mess right now trying to recover from the first surgery while still in quite a bit of pain from the second surgery.  So imagine my surprise when she announced she was leaving Hawaii for a month and half of travel to Europe and then separate visits in California, Nevada and Montana…with a right arm that’s basically useless.  There was no talking her out of it either – I even tried to forbid her from going, but who was I kidding.  She’s about halfway through her journey and has done ok, but can’t carry her luggage and does suffer from pain at the end of particularly long days. 

When she told me I couldn’t forbid her from taking the trip, I reminded her of a time she forbade me from leaving the house.  During my senior year of college, I came home for Christmas.  The day before Christmas I came down with a bad cold/sore throat and ended up not being able to go to the family dinner the next day.  The morning after Christmas I woke up feeling a bit better so decided I'd keep my day-after-Christmas shopping  plans I had with a friend.  When I came downstairs ready to go, my parents told me I couldn’t go – I had been too sick for Christmas so I needed to stay home and get better.  I was shocked, having lived on my own since I was 17.  We had a huge fight – me saying if I were at my place I’d go and they wouldn’t even know, them saying I was in their home and wasn’t going.  In the end, I didn’t get to go.  “And that was ONLY a cold!” I told my mom.  I guess I inherited my stubbornness from her because she didn’t budge.

So now she’s off again, and I’ve got my house back.  But I’ve found myself texting her to check where she is and that she arrived safely, and continuing to express my worry for that arm of hers. 

Raising a parent sure is hard work.

16 comments:

  1. It is hard to know when worry is appropriate. At the moment my mom is waiting for an op on a cataract that has become a slightly pesky. I'm thinking I should be jumping up and down on the hospital admin to speed things up but she's far more blaze. And the Dr says she's still grand to drive.

    HA, spoilt, high-maintenance little madam. It's not as if you are in a one bedroom flat and living in each others ear. No you've a good sized house on TWO floors. :-D :-D :-D

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    1. I know I know, it sounds like I'm being a brat. Everyone loves my mom and can hardly imagine her driving me up the wall. I've been fighting for my independence since basically the day I was born due to that smothering the only child thing. We're fine most of the time but every so often we revert back to that mother/daughter thing where she's overwhelming and I shut down. :)

      My mom's doctor told her she was good to go too and I wondered why he'd do that when she was still in such pain. Then again, being doctors you'd hope they'd make the right call so all we can do is trust them I guess.

      How long is the wait time for that kind of surgery, a couple of weeks, months? I think that driving/eyesight thing is such a toughy - the worry of losing their independence has got to be in the back of their minds. I'm almost sure that's why mine refused to postpone her trip.

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  2. My mom went to London 6 mos after a small stroke, there was nothing we could do to stop her, but she was fine. She traveled a few years more before she had to stop, went down fast after that, so encourage the travel and activity. I did not have to experience what you did with my mom as I was the oldest. I do a pretty good job when I visit kids and try to stay just a short time.

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    1. When my dad died the funeral director told me the high percentage of people that pass within a year after their spouse does. That caused me so much anxiety and having the first few months be very hard for my mom made me so worried. After she got through the difficult first year though, she became super active and social again. She does keep very busy, and I'm thankful for that.

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  3. Absolutely. And it just gets harder.

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    1. That's what I'm afraid of. Thinking about having to intervene in her life like you have had to makes me nervous. Having to do it on my own makes it even scarier. Right now I'm nowhere near that (knock on wood) but this last visit seemed like a little peek into what it may be in the future.

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  4. I hope she has a wonderful time! I am praying for her arm right now. Poor thing. I WISH my Mom could live with me. Seriously. I would take her for 11 out of 12 months of the year if I could. I keep telling her and my Daddy that I want them to move in with me. They roll their eyes.

    Treasure every moment with her. I know you do. Even when you are reminding her that you are an adult.

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    1. :) It would be great if she lived in town and we could visit often. We'd kill each other if we lived together just like back in the day, but I do wish I got to see her more often.

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  5. It certainly is! I find myself in that "limbo" time when my parents still have their independence, but I'm beginning to question things, such as their driving. I'm not looking forward to what lies ahead.

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  6. I feel the same way about my mom. The older I get, the more I see the need to care for her.

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  7. I know exactly where you are coming from. Love to your mum though, hope she makes a full recovery and give you some peace of mind xx

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  8. The worst part is that when they are away from you for awhile they revert to their old behavior. My mother is a people person and constantly talking, it drives me bonkers 'cause I like to be alone or I'm perfectly fine sitting in silence in my own home. She also talks through all movies.

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    1. Yes! Exactly! I'm quite familiar with the talking through the movies thing too. ;)

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  9. it sure is.. it is an interesting and often stressful dynamic when the roles reverse and our parents realize we don't need them anymore when they have spent the last 17-18 years at our beck and call.
    Hope your mom has a safe trip

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