Thinking about roles and responsibilities in elder care: To whom do we “owe” care and what is the effect of open-heartedness/ cheerfulness/ optimism versus letting the resentful and cranky self be in charge? We have been skirting around declining abilities and epic stubbornness with my Mother for some time now. She is nearing 92 and since October it has been a roller coaster of hospitalizations and mishaps. The ride has scared her and exhausted me. In indirect ways, Mother is indicating that she may not be able to live on her own. I dug deeper and learned that Dr.Y told her she couldn’t manage on her own anymore. Shift happens. This time is not us “making her” rather “the professionals have spoken.” I think she could manage assisted rather than skilled, but we shall see what the professionals have to say at an upcoming “care conference.” Knowing little about the senior care system, I have a new language to learn. She has new rules to follow.
My friend R writes long Facebook missives about caring for her elderly parents and her own inner journey in relation to that work. I have not written or said much about it–certainly not on social media. I see the merit in going public and find the exposure of all these feelings and sense of failure disturbing. Perhaps I am most afraid of giving up the good daughter archetype. It is true that I prefer the role of caregiver to that of difficult daughter. She trusts me in that role and sees my skills. But does it mean I like her to be weak? That I like her to need my unique skills and my feistiness on her behalf. Well, yes. It gives us a framework in which to have a relationship. Otherwise all we have is the history of our shared pain and cultural conditioning.
Mom is an Aries and I have always considered her a very young soul. Naive, protected, and “spoiled” as she says. Also, a beloved petty tyrant, a difficult guru, and a self-centered, hateful bully. Now we are here: Roles reversing, opportunities for grace and forgiveness. A chance for us both to grow and perhaps to finally connect.
At various times and by various “readers,” I have been told I am an old soul, an incarnated angel, a necromancer, a medium, a psychic and a healer. I don’t think it is my place to claim any of that. But I recognize I don’t see the world in the same way as most people around me and that I often feel lonely as a result. It is possible that unity consciousness is more my natural milieu than dualism. It is true that I did not want to be on this planet until after age 45. Do I need to be aware of any of this? Or just show up with each dawn and do what is set before me. Good enough.