I’m participating in the Write Tribe Problogger October 2017 Blogging Challenge through October and will be following the prompts suggested. I’ve also decided to focus on the theme of Anonymously Me – stories that people have shared with me and that we could all learn lessons from. If you have a story you’d like to share anonymously on Everyday Gyaan, do contact me. You can be assured that I will keep your name and details confidential. Today’s story, Care Giving Is Hard, was shared by a woman in her early 30s who lives in one of India’s busy metros. I have tried my best to write this story from her perspective, based on our interactions.
Care giving Is Hard
I was an only child and my mother brought me up alone as my father passed away when I was just three. Neither set of grandparents were supportive and I always admired my mother’s resilience and inner strength. She gave me the best she could afford and worked damned hard to make sure I got a good education.
It seemed natural then when I got married, that she should come live with me. My husband was kind enough to allow this and frankly Mum was very helpful around the house. But there’s always a downside isn’t there? My mother seemed to grudge the time I spent with my husband. Every time I planned a short getaway with my husband, Mum would complain about her aches and pains and take to bed, forcing us to cancel our outing.
Guilt and Resentment
After my children were born, I can count on my fingers the times we could step out together as a family. I’d arrange for an aunt or a friend to stay with Mum, and hope that the four of us could go out. We’d hardly step out, when Mum would call. Mum also started to interfere a great deal in my children’s upbringing and undermine our discipline and rules as parents. If I was honest with myself, I’d say I started to resent this. Despite my husband’s urging, I never confronted her.
Whenever Mum was ill, I’d put everything aside to care for her and she was a difficult patient. But I’d recall how she looked after me when I was young, and put up with her demands. If I didn’t, she reminded me of her sacrifices and guilt took over! The illnesses seemed to increase. Several visits to the doctors and a battery of tests suggested that her sickness was more psychological. I started not to take her grumbling about aches and pains seriously.
Shock, Guilt and Care giving
One morning, Mum suddenly collapsed, breathless and turning blue. We rushed her to hospital. A new set of doctors and tests brought us the shocking news that she had lung cancer and it was terminal! The doctors advised that home care was the best option.
I tried hard to make amends for what I saw as my neglect of my Mum. I worked hard to make sure she was comfortable – bathing her, turning her as she got weaker, cooking and feeding her, making sure that she took her medications. I’d keep calling the doctors and updating them. All this in addition to running my home and seeing to my children. My husband would pitch in as best he could, but he went to work and traveled a fair bit. He suggested more than once that we should employ an agency to supply caregivers to Mum. But I’d argue that I was her only child and no one could look after her the way I could.
The Consequences of Poor Choices
Mum lived for 6 months after the diagnosis. Those were the hardest times of my life. As she got more ill, she got more demanding, rude and even abusive at times. I went through the cycle of grief at her imminent passing, mental stress, physical exhaustion and feeling like everything was caving in around me. I began to have less and less time for the rest of the family and cut myself off from my friends. Slowly, I began to resent my mother too, but then guilt would take over, and I’d recommit myself to her care.
When my mother finally passed away, my first emotion was relief. Then guilt. Then grief. Now 8 years later, I continue to live with the guilt that I may not have given my mother the care she deserved. I also feel guilty that I was not a good mother to my children and an attentive wife to my husband during my mother’s illness and for a long while thereafter.
Looking back I realize that my big mistake was to think I could do it all alone. What I didn’t realize was that I was not trained to be a care giver and outside resources could be more objective. I should have realized that caregiver burnout is a reality. I tried to be daughter, nurse, secretary, nutritionist, cook………and gave up being me!
Care giving is hard. Reach out and ask for help from extended family or friends. Take breaks. Look after yourself.
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