Parenting the Parent
As Martha and I go through the journey that is Alzheimers it becomes more evident that our roles have switched. Looking into the past I realize I am now repeating much of my own Mother’s behaviors as a parent, on my own Mother.
I remember being a teenager and Mum repeatedly telling me to get out of bed. I remember being a young child and staying up late in my room playing. I remember learning to tie my shoelaces and how difficult that was. I remember being panic stricken when I would get lost in the supermarket and the joy I experienced when I saw Mum again. I remember being/feeling dependent on Mum and Dad for everything.
Martha is remembering and un-remembering. I tell her to get out of bed, I repeat myself and become frustrated, I imagine she was frustrated with me when I wouldn’t get out of bed. She stays up late conversating with herself and I remind her to sleep, over and over. I attempt to reason with her on why sleep is important. She no longer remembers how to perform certain tasks, tying shoelaces, putting on her seatbelt or opening jars. I guide who through the process with the same patience she had for me. I learnt and retained the information, Martha no longer does. I see the panic in her eyes when she loses sight of me at the supermarket. I see the joy in her smile when she finds me again. She is safe. She is dependent on me. I am her life force.
I never thought I would be a parent at my age. I get frustrated by her, I feel as if every time I speak to her its negatively, do this, do that, hurry up, quickly, shoes on, shoes off, hurry up! Is this what parenting feels like? Self doubt? Am I doing it right? Am I screwing it up?
I love her. An immense powerful love that brews deep in the heart, it is a love I have never experienced before. Is this what parenting feels like? A love so strong you would give your own life?
I worry. A constant nagging worry about her safety and wellbeing. In my darkest moments, in my frustration, I worry. Is she warm enough? Has she eaten enough? What else can I do? Is this what parenting is? Worry that moves you to your core.
I hold her hand, I kiss her forehead, I tell her I love her. I give everything for her, I do everything for her. I want her to be happy, safe, warm, loved. Is this what parentings is?
‘If you resist it, it’ll be cruel to you, if you let it in, it’ll be magic!’