Updated: May 7, 2020
By Michele Mauro Small
When I was growing up, I wasn’t warned that eventually I may actually be in a position to trade places with my parents. What? Yes, it’s true! Suddenly, I’m the caregiver, the one in charge! How can this be? The person who guided me through life’s trials and tribulations is now the person needing me to return the favor. Not only is it heartbreaking, but it feels so unnatural. What if I make the wrong decision? What if, God forbid, my parent gets angry!
I found myself in this position long before I was ready for it. Now, I’m the person setting the rules, trips to the doctor, taking medicine, taking a bath and then (OMG) giving the bath!
There is nothing to prepare you for this! But somehow, you manage to do what is needed. You find yourself in an awkward position. One that unfortunately, is sometimes not embraced by you or your parent. Neither want YOU to be in charge. You try all kinds of methods to take care of things. You simply sit down and talk with your parent. You explain that you want to make things easier for them. You’re simply trying to help them. Suddenly, you hear in a very direct statement, “I don’t need your help. There’s nothing wrong with me.” You don’t want to make them feel frustrated or make them feel feeble in any way, but at the same time, they’re just not the same person you knew and grew up with and the time has come that they need assistance.
Forget about explaining why you’d like to have someone come in and stay with them during the day to help them with chores and meals. They act like you’ve lost your mind. Not only are you insulting them, but you have the nerve to actually infer they need a babysitter. How many of us would love to have someone come in and help with chores and meals? They see it as an invasion of their privacy and, worse yet, you’re doubting their competency. Imagine how you would feel if this was happening to you. This can be a no win situation, yet somehow you will manage to get through it. I’m sure someone has written some type of How-To book on this and I wish I had read it before I was launched into this position. All I can say is you need to remind yourself over and over, “You’re doing this because you love them and want the best for them."You want to take care of them, like they did you.” You will feel guilty and at times frustrated. You are not alone in this! I found that so many of my friends are in the same position and I relied on them for support and help.
Remind yourself that your parents may not want the help, but they need you! It’s a job that often causes tense moments, tears and yes, anger. Stepping up to the plate and taking care of them will give you peace of mind in the long run. You will be able to sleep knowing they’re safe and much better off with your help. I pray for you and your parents. I pray for strength, guidance for the right decisions, patience, and above all, faith in yourself. You’ve got this! They raised you right. You’re just returning the favor.
Michele Mauro Small Lives in Frederick, Md and this is her heart felt story of moving in to care for her elderly mother.