Suddenly I’m the mom

It is a bit of a regret that I never had kids. I like them. I always pictured myself having them, but it was always “later.” Now it’s later and here I am. Sometimes I toy with the idea of adopting or fostering, but life is a bit complicated these days. Perhaps after we move and get settled, I’ll look at it again.

As things are, there are days when I feel like I already have a child. I don’t like to say that, because I am a big believer in the idea that my mom is NOT a child. She has an illness. It affects her cognitively in some ways, but she is still an adult with a wealth of experience and wisdom of her own, even if it is starting to come to the surface in different ways than it once did.

Still, I am responsible for a lot of mom duties. I do all the cooking, cleaning, laundry, shopping, making sure she has clothes, takes a bath, doesn’t wander off, gets her medications, goes to the bathroom, doesn’t toss her disposable underwear, half finished drinks, and food leftovers just anywhere, has transportation, pay all the bills, make her medical appointments, attend them with her, deal with ridiculous social workers who have no concept of what dementia really means for the patient or caregiver, advocate for her with her medical insurance, medicaid, doctors, etc. (there is more to do there than there should be!), cater to all her demands/needs/wants (which are always urgent), deal with her incessant need to be going somewhere all the time, makes sure she eats, says things like “you need to eat your peas before you eat dessert” and “no, we can’t go for a walk right now, it is icy out.” I also never leave her unattended. I reassure her when she’s anxious. I entertain her. I go for drives with her. And I literally do not go anywhere without her and haven’t in ages, though I don’t really care about that.

When my mom was having behavioral disturbances, I was the one here being screamed and called names, installing special locks on all the exits, and sleeping on the living room couch just to be sure she didn’t find a way to wander off in the middle of the night. Oh, and I also work and take care of our pets. Between her and them, I feel like I’m constantly cleaning. I think I’m done with one thing and there’s another mess to clean up. I don’t mind having her around or looking after her, but it’s, honestly, exhausting sometimes.

I beat myself up sometimes about “dragging my feet” on our move. I’ve been trying to clean and purge and pack things we don’t often use and get ready for “We buy your house for cash people” to come and make offers since I decided in summer that we would be financially better off selling the house and moving to a less expensive, quieter area where I could breathe and focus on building my business and future instead of constantly scrambling to meet Portland’s inflated and rising prices and I just can’t seem to make any headway. Part of it is just the difficulty of selling my childhood home and the memories inside it as well as fear of taking an offer on our house, then not being able to find a new one we like quickly enough, but most of it is just that I am one person trying to do the work of three. It’s in times like this that I wish a I had a husband or partner to rely upon for help with decision making. Still, I have to push forward in the hope that things will be less of a struggle, if we move.

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