When The Roles Are Reversed: Caring For A Parent
Since my father died a little over nine months ago, my mother and I have essentially reversed our roles. Suffice it to say it has been a lesson in patience and recalibrating the tenor and dynamic of our mother-daughter relationship. I've spent the better part of these past nine months watching my mother sink into a black hole of pity, grief and a desperate urge to leave this world of the living so that she can join my father in the next one. I have essentially taken on the role which she once ministered to me, that of soothsayer, caretaker and protector and to be perfectly honest, it is daunting and at times completely overwhelming.
Before my father passed away, while I spoke to my mother and saw my parents on a regular basis, I didn't feel it was imperative to check in with my mother and I basically left all her care, both mental and physical in the hands of my father. Of course I had no idea of the scope of my mother's needs and the responsibilities of tending to her because my father took it all in stride. Even as he was slowly dying he still was there as her protector. He was my mother's soothsayer, he was he one providing her the emotional relief and keeping her steady and strong. Of course her world, and mine, and that of my siblings has been thrown into a major upheaval since his death as we are all now trying to fill his shoes, to be that beacon of strength and resolve for my mother and to essentially parent her. It is the oddest and most surreal situation to be in, and a role I never even contemplated I'd take on as a 38 year old woman.
Ultimately my father's death has immersed me in my mother's world, in a way that is both uncomfortable and disconcerting and forced me to look a little harder at myself, and how difficult it must be to be my mother right now; how lonely she must feel.