Mother May I…

>Have you considered inviting your mother to live with you? It’s been nearly six years since my husband and I moved my 76 year old mother in with us. With idealistic intentions and unrealistic expectations, we welcomed her into our home. I’m not quite sure where to begin, but I will start by saying, think long and carefully before you take this step. We are at a juncture now, where we think we made a mistake.
At the time of  Mother’s move in- Yes, I’ve been teased by family and friends, because I call her “mother” not “mom”, but both my brother and I have always called her that. Anyway, when she moved in, our household consisted of my husband and I, our 15 year old daughter, 2 ½ year old son, and 3 ½ year foster child, whom we were trying to adopt. Oh yeah, our cup ran over! From the very beginning, she tried to take the lead role. She believed that we invited her to move in because we needed a matriarch of sort to run our home. She wasn’t even close to the mark and perhaps we didn’t make ourselves clear enough as to why the invitation was extended. We were concerned about her living alone. She’s self sufficient and still drives her relatively new car; however, she has (unspoken) tendencies that would require someone to periodically check on her.

Just as there are layers to ones personality, there are deep layers to this process and each time I think I’ve got a phase or layer down pat, another springs on me like a teenager drifting through puberty. It just never stops. Sigh… Then there are the feelings of guilt. I often think, okay, I know I gave my mother hell as a teenager, she made sacrifices for me growing up, I gave her a run for her money, and so what’s up Tanya, stop whining, bite the bullet, shut up, and do what you’re suppose to do… “Honor thy mother…” “.. and thy days may be longer…” No disrespect, but the days seem longer and longer. Ha! It sounds good, but none of that stuff is working for me.

The dynamics of a home changes when anyone moves in, but especially so, when it’s a mother. You take for granted those discrete conversations between husband and wife that occurred openly in your home. Those conversations must now move behind the closed doors of the closed doors. Spontaneous intimate moments tend to be more spontaneously planned moments. You might be subjected to frequent reminders of your inability to raise children and run a household. Your quick fixes for dinner on hectic days may be viewed as neglect. Your lack of desire to physically punish your child may be taken as “sparing the rod & spoiling the child.” There’s a constant reminder that you’re not doing things the way she does them, which really means, that you’re not handling your business the right way. You might be thinking that these moments are no different than when you have children, but there are differences; you can control the movements of your children, you cannot control the movements of an adult.

I’ve already told our daughter, who is now a junior in college, to value her education, to be passionate about her career, and if a time comes, where she has to move us in, make sure she has an in-law’s quarters at her home. We’ll need our own tiny kitchen, a bathroom, and a bedroom. I want to give her and her family their space. I have a strong personality and, with the exception of a few things, am very capable of following in my mothers footsteps. I don’t even want to go there!

The tone of this post may not sound like it, but those around me will tell you that I am an upbeat, positive, optimistic person who loves to laugh.  Perhaps for some people, as they age, they see the darker side of life; while others are thankful that they are alive and well and enjoy every waking minute.  Mother, unfortunately, is not the later.  I’m not sure why.  Yes, I’ve asked and only receive bitterness and anger that she cannot get past.

I try to look at the brighter side of life. The glass is always half full. My mother is alive, where my father died when I was age 17. Mother is healthy and can do for herself. Mother has healthy siblings nearby that she can hang out with and talk to on the telephone. My mother has 76 years of wisdom to share. Mother is happy? No. Yes, my glass is half full right now; however, the inner core of self is and has been feeling unfathomable turmoil and I cannot shake it. The home climate has changed from warm to cool. Mother, I love you dearly! Mother, may I help you find a place that is more comfortable for both of us?