One Sunday every May, sons and daughters, no matter what their age, turn the household hierarchy upside down and attempt to reciprocate everything Mom has done for them by showering her with gifts and treating her to her favorite restaurant. Those twenty-four hours are not much compared to the other 364 days, when Moms are seemingly superhuman juggling children, relationships, careers, and other aspects of everyday life.
But Mothers are indeed human, and now, as “adult children,” are we prepared to take care of mom when she can no longer care for herself? You’ve got to stop living in denial to the fact that you’ll eventually assume the role of Mother to your mother. That’s not a lesson I read about from an expert, but one learned through my own life experience.
It shook me to the core when a stroke left my mom shelpless and vulnerable. She was never sick a day in her life. But now she needed me, and the roles were reversed. The reality of the natural progression of life set in.
Preparation is the key. At some point,
Once I got over the initial shock of my mom’s stroke, I didn’t seek out an expert to tell me what to do. Instinct kicked in. I immediately flew across the country and spent three weeks at Momma’s side, helping the team of caregivers rehabilitate her.
It’s important to get on the same page with siblings when assisting a sick parent; it can help minimize any potential stress. If you’re lucky enough to have brothers or sisters who can share the responsibility, then gather the troops and decide who will assume what aspect of Mom’s care.
Even though it is important to have a heart-to-heart discussion with your mother before a sickness occurs, it is vital to continue this dialogue during the recovery stage. I realized early on that the parent/child role-reversal was uncomfortable for Momma as well. Not only did I have to help her physical state, but I also had to help her adjust to accepting my help.
With that communication out of the way early on, you can then turn the focus to truly enjoying the time you have left with Mom. I learned from my Dad’s passing that having pointed conversations with your parents—about what their final days may bring—can bring you closer and create a more honest and fulfilling relationship.
It’s preparing for those final years of Momma’s life that is the most satisfying for both of us. Imagine the sense of accomplishment for a mother when she realizes she’s raised a child who’s caring enough to put family first and return the favor. Then, as the “child caregiver” you get a rewarding feeling for taking on the responsibility of caring for a parent.
This life situation is the perfect opportunity for children to genuinely show Mom how much all of her sacrifices are truly appreciated. You know that great feeling you get on Mother’s Day when you see your mom enjoy everything you’ve done for her? If you prepare now—before something bad happens—you are free to create that same joy in your relationship every day … for the rest of her life.