Taking Care of My Mom: Finding the Balance
I am getting ready to travel to Michigan to visit my mother and I’m reminded…. I was tired of taking care of everyone else except me. I needed to take care of me. The only way I could do that was to move 3000 miles away. I moved to Malibu from Michigan a few years ago because I was counting on the “out of sight, out of mind” phenomenon. I felt that the only way everyone in my family was going to stop thinking of me as the “go to” person was for me to move away.
At the time, my mom was healthy. She was able to visit me when she wanted and I could go there once in a while so the distance did not seem very far. The separation turned out to be positive for both of us. I was able to avoid always getting caught up in her immediate demands and found the time to take care of myself. She learned to take care of herself on her own. She even learned to let go of some unimportant borrowed drama that she frequently got involved in and regularly pulled me into.
Now my mother is getting older and weaker. My worries for her are getting stronger. The weather in Michigan is cold more than half the year and worsens her arthritis. Even the short summers are difficult. While everyone is hot and the air conditioners are working full power, my mother and her knees are cold from the air conditioner. She no longer visits me very often. She has a life with my brother’s family and children in Michigan where she feels needed and useful. I am glad for that because I am busy with work and school and cannot keep her company.
Just recently she had knee surgery and is in pain, physical therapy and recovery. She misses me more now and makes a point to tell me. She remembers that when I was close to her in Michigan, she never had to worry about who would take care of her every need. I was always there. She never needed to know what I gave up or put on hold to take care of her. All she knew was that she never had to ask anyone else, I was always there. I sometimes feel guilty that I am not there for her now but I also know that I am doing what is right and important for my sanity and me.
Since I moved away, I have always made sure there is someone taking care of her. I try to take care of her needs from a distance. I still try to go see her as often as possible and invite her to stay with me whenever possible for her.
I am learning to take care of my mother while taking care of myself. I am doing my best to find a healthy balance. I will see her this weekend. She is happy! I am happy too!