Chocolate Chips and Mom Guilt Trips

I know most people growing up thinking their family is weird. Perhaps even “not normal.” But have you ever had to parent your parent? It’s not a concept I’m unfamiliar with, my entire life has been spent parenting my mother and brothers in some form or another.

Now, taking care of mom while she’s on hospice is a whole other ball game. Everyone, and I mean everyone, reminded me how full my hands were going to be while out here caring for her. I knew that going in to it, but can you really prepare for it, even having lived it your entire life?

My mother is the queen of guilt trips. She’s really great at giving you a compliment, awhile insulting you at the same time. She’s really good at making you feel like shit for a decision you’ve made that she might not agree with or wasn’t a part of making. Here are a few examples from the last 24 hours alone:

  • Packing some of her things that she will no longer be using. We discussed this when she was brought home and that I would only be packing things to make room and keep busy. I’ve packed her clothes, aside from the few outfits she’s been wearing, as well as her DVDs. We’ve been living on streaming media, no need for discs. She was all kosher with this. Until today. This morning she said was a bit emotional and that she felt like I was packing up her life. Great.
  • Talking to Dave on the phone. I haven’t seen him 2 weeks and it’ll be another 2 before I see him. This is the longest we’ve been a part in the 7.5 years of us being together so of course we’re going to have more than 10 minute conversations. After one call she commented “Man, Nick would be so mad if he knew how long you were on the phone and not watching your mom.” *insert eye roll here* We were on the phone last night because he called for a favor: helping calculate kiddo’s carbs to insulin ration. She heard us talking about a favor and in the background said “I need a favor, but you’re ignoring me.”
  • And my favorite… “When Jenny was here, it was cleaner.” Mind you, my mother is pack rat and keeps everything and had already complained about me packing her life away.

Those are just a few examples of the attempted guilt tripping and I haven’t smothered her so far, so I’m handling it well. All of this likely makes me sound like an awful, ungrateful daughter. Perhaps I am. All I know is that I’ve never come across another woman like my mother and that hasn’t always been a positive thing.

I knew going in to this that it would difficult. I’m essentially waiting on her hand and foot. She’s practically living in her bed now, with the occasional bathroom break or trip to sit at the counter. She’s become fairly reliant on her Lorazepam and Morphine when it comes to breathing difficulties, but I guess that’s what they’re there for. Her first panic of the day starts around 1:30 am most mornings, followed by a 6-8 hour medication coma. If the morning started out rough, there’s a good chance I’ll have to change her bedding when she wakes up later because she’s knocked out hard. Once her bedding is changed, she’s back in bed doing a breathing treatment, monitoring her heart rate and oxygen saturation while likely taking a puff or three of a cigarette and generally is sleeping again within minutes.

She’s been eating less and less I’ve noticed. It’s 2:30pm and she’s eating her first meal of the day; a cup of chocolate chip cookie dough ice cream. Yesterday we had some taquitos about 5 pm, a little ice cream earlier in the day, mostly snack foods. She did manage to eat a hot dog and some chips too. I keep asking if she’s hungry, she says no, but makes herself eat something anyway.

Her health is confusing me so much. It confuses her nurse as well. I asked about her oxygen saturation rapidly dropping after she eats. She’s never heard of that before. Her color looks a lot better, not so pale, so that’s a plus too. I’ve been reading different things on “terminal lucidity” and end of life “surge” of energy, but that’s confusing too. Here I am, a month later, not knowing if my mom is going to pass or not. Obviously the best route is her getting healthier and able to function on her own, but what if this is just a stage too? How do I prepare for her maybe coming out of hospice or maybe dying?

It alright, I take comfort in knowing whatever comes or however I handle things, my brother will always be pissed off at me for not doing things differently, but I won’t be the one living with the guilt of choosing something else over being here with her, enjoying whatever time we might have.

Until next time…



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