Whether it’s elder care, adult children returning to the nest, divorce, remarriage, or both parents working, today’s family is inevitably faced with a myriad of changes which can cause stress in the home.
My husband and I relished our time alone after our children were grown and gone. Although he was still working, we had plenty of free time to enjoy our home and small trips. Our children and their families seemed to be doing well; our only living parent, my mother, lived by herself a few hours away. We could not foresee any major changes in our lives
Without warning, Mother became ill during a visit in our home and was admitted to the hospital. Her situation became critical for several weeks; we weren’t sure she would get to come home. After that, the only recourse was to have her live with us. At first Mother’s care was minimal and we continued our daily routines. Soon our relationship suffered as I gradually had to take on more responsibilities. Her diet needs were different; her ability to care for herself was limited; and she seemed to have endless medical needs.
Yes, there were times when I wanted to throw up my hands and say, “I quit.” I loved my mother and my family and found it difficult to juggle all the responsibility. I hope you find the following tips helpful as you face challenges in your life; they helped me keep things in perspective on those difficult days.
1. Recognize your responsibilities. It is your responsibility to maintain a clean, healthy environment. You are not responsible for how each person adjusts to the changing situations. You will never be Wonder Woman making everyone happy all the time!
2. Shed the guilt. For instance, if you have insisted a parent leave their home, it is not your fault they could not care for themselves. While they may accuse you of taking their home away from them, you must continue to show love and respect, secure in the knowledge that you did the best you could. Keep in mind: You are not perfect and neither is the rest of the family. You will make mistakes and so will they.
3. Communicate with the entire family. Several years into Mother’s care, I realized my husband needed to be more informed about what was involved in her care. As I became more open with her needs, he began seeing small ways he could help. He felt good to be a part of her care. Even if your family members cannot help, you owe it to them to tell them what is going on.
4. Accept things as they are. We cannot go back and change events. I wanted my mother to hold me and tell me everything was alright. She, at that time, did not recognize me as her daughter. I had to love and care for her regardless of whether or not she knew who I was.
5. Find support. This is so important. The amazing truth is that, no matter what your situation, someone else has been there.
I continue to be amazed at the influence a mother has on the home environments. There is truth in the saying, “If Momma ain’t happy, ain’t nobody happy.” You have a responsibility to care for yourself as you care for others.