Thursday, May 28, 2009

Tip No. Eight: Follow the Golden Rule, but...

...cut yourself some slack when you slip up. I am a big believer in karma. I try to think that the energy I put out will be the energy I get back eventually. In this case, this translates into my trying to be cognizant of the fact that eventually I will be in my mother's shoes, or drooling on them as the case may be. Odds are, I will be old or ill or disabled in some way and need the care of others. So, I want to be respectful of Mother and her co-residents in the same manner I want someone to treat me eventually, and I want to handle Mother's affairs as though they are my own. And, I need to do these things not just because I'm trying to build up some cosmic goodwill, but because it is the right thing to do. But, man oh man, some days it just is harder than others. I have to learn to forgive myself for those little evil thoughts and resentments that creep in because, honestly, it's just hard to have this added to an already full plate, and we're all only human.

Now, do not misunderstand me. It is not okay to abuse an elderly charge. That is not an excusable situation. But, for those days when you say, as I did just last Saturday, "You know, I'd rather have my face shot off than go deal with Mother today." cut yourself some slack. And, I did say exactly that too. At the moment, if the two alternatives had been put in front of me as a real choice, I seriously would have hesitated passing up the excuse not to go over and see her that day. She had been irritated at me for days, primarily because I left the dog home for a couple of days in a row so I could piggy back errands to the daily visit and that made her mad, and she was also aggravated that she hadn't gotten any mail lately. The fact of the matter is that once I glean out the two to three Danbury Mint solicitations she gets daily and the bills I now have to pay on her behalf, she just doesn't get a lot of mail. But, that's a connection to the outside world for her, so she gets upset without it and suspicious that I am withholding information from her. I am, of course - there is no way I am letting her near a Danbury Mint order form. They are just going to have to figure out a way to turn a profit without her. But, add that tension to the long term friction we have had for years, it can be less than fun to do what I know is the right thing. That doesn't excuse me from doing it, but I do think I can be forgiven the occasional bad vibe.

Bottom line for more than a few of us, our relationship with our parents isn't the picture perfect loving relationship. As I have mentioned before, Mother is complicated. I am not easy. Together, we can be explosive. Mother was always sort of an enigma, and one had to walk a fine line so as not to offend her. She wanted a certain level of attention to be paid her, but not too much because she was very, very proud of her independence. The older she got, the harder it was to reach the right balance. I was always afraid I would fall out of line too far to recover, and a couple of years ago I did. I will save the details for a post of their own, but that flash point temper of hers, almost like the Eye of Sauron, fixed itself on me and would not look away. It was withering too. She is my mother, so it's not like we could divorce one another, but it was a very trying time. And, if she didn't know on some level that she would eventually need me, she would have completely cut me out of her life, of that I have no doubt. This was the atmosphere in place when the accident happened. But, that didn't relinquish the level of responsibility and commitment I feel I need to put into caring for her during her hospitalization and her current situation. Because, for all her faults, she did the best she could to raise me. She really did, and, for all the emotional baggage she left me with, I know that is true. So, I owe it to her now to do the same. I just will have those days, you know.

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