One of the most difficult things about becoming a new parent to me was the fact that my child did not come with an instruction manual. I discovered that most parenting was learned through experience and plain old common sense, interspersed with a little advice here and there. Once those children were grown, it never crossed my mind that I would someday be confronted with a similar situation with a parent.
I, like most people, assumed that one day my parent would require assistance as they grew older. Although you think about these things, like parenthood, you’re never quite as prepared as you think because they don’t come with an instruction manual either.
When my mother recently had some problems that caused her to have to stay with me, immediately, I knew we were in trouble. She has her way of doing things, and I have mine. The hubby and I have routines, and she has different routines. I looked into my patience trunk and realized some of it had leaked out somewhere along the way.
The first and probably the biggest problem we encountered was that in her mind, she was the mother and I was her child, even though I haven’t been in that child neck of the woods for 50 years. Along with a lot of those same mean stares I got from the kids when I wanted them to do something, I also got a lot of back-talk from her, something I didn’t get from them. I soon discovered that grounding her didn’t seem to matter too much.
I’ve often heard it said that personalities skip a generation, and I think that’s probably very true in our situation. My mother is not one of those people who’s content to sit and watch TV or read, but rather she’s a doer and loves the outdoors. I don’t like bugs, dirt and am not particularly crazy about grass. When I suggested to her that I didn’t think it was a good idea to climb a ladder and spray her pecan tree, I got another one of those stares and she said, “If you’re so worried, you can stand and hold the ladder.” That wasn’t going to happen. After all, my house my rules.
For some reason, Mother always thinks like Karl Malden when it comes to “leaving home without it.” It wasn’t an American Express card, but rather she wanted stuff from her house which she refused to leave. Adding her stuff to our stuff soon cluttered up the house. When I asked her why she needed all these things right now, again with the stare, and she informed me not to be so nosy. I’m not sure but she may be hiding some of those classified documents in there somewhere.
Even though it’s been difficult at times, there have been moments where we’ve laughed. One in particular was when she was waiting for my brother to take her to his house for a couple of days. When she told me that he was outside and started out the door, I said, “No, Mother, he’s not out there yet. He’ll come in when he gets here.”
She looked at me and said, “I don’t know why you’re holding me prisoner in here. I think it’s just because you can.”
I gave her one of those stares back and said, “You’re absolutely right. It’s just because I can.” And then we both laughed. Thank goodness for laughter.