Mom Looks Old – Is this a signal I should start being a better son?

My Mom is getting old.  I’m starting to notice for the first time.  She’s only about 50, but I can see it in her face. The sun spots, the wrinkles, her lack of health, and her emotional instability that a lifetime of difficulty so ungraciously molder her look.  Even talking to her sometimes I can tell she can barely hold it together.  She cries almost instantly – from feeling abandoned, by everyone, and maybe even from guilt.

She came over to my house Saturday for the second time during a family get together.  We didn’t talk much and I regret that.  I have a hard time talking to her because honestly I don’t have much to talk about with her.  She stays at home 99% of her life.  It’s quite sad.  She is handicapped, has no car, and lives in project housing.  She and my Dad do not live together, but are still married, so she only gets out when someone takes her.  She also lives over an hour drive from me so I rarely venture to see her.

I could say that she’s done this to herself and in a large extent she has, but honestly that shouldn’t keep me from being a good son.  Any negative feeling I have toward my parents I need to put behind me.  I know those feeling will only be magnified and stacked on top of guilt after she dies.  I know she doesn’t have long left.  I know that’s terribly morbid, but I have to be honest here.  It is completely possible she will die within the next decade.  She may never meet my future children.

Maybe its my job as a decent human being to intervene.  I’ve actually considered helping her buy a house, but at 25 is it fair that I put my dreams, my wife’s dreams, on hold for her?  Maybe it is.  At very least I could make a better effort to spend time with her on a regular basis – even though seeing her means listening to her problems and feeling guilty the entire time.  She doesn’t even try to do it – her life really is depressing.

Why the fuck do I have to have Mommy and Daddy issues?  It’s almost laughable.  I go to work and excel.  I’m confident and manage teams of 20 for milti-million dollar projects at times, most of my friends and acquaintances don’t have a clue about my upbringing, but the issues with my Mom and Dad leave me at a loss.

I know I have to step it up and be a better son.  Not for my parents, but for me.  They may or may not deserve it, but its really the only way I can prevent doing permanent damage to myself.

Sometimes I honestly feel that I could forget about them and be fine.  Even right not I feel totally detached from them, but I feel that tiny tug at the bottom of my heart telling me they brought me into this world and I have been given this gift of life – avoid guilt and regret – and be a good son.

What the hell are these feelings?  Is this Evolution’s way of making me take care of the elders in my tribe?  Is this God?  What strange sensation is this!  Yeah, I’m laughing to myself.  Despite all of my desire for logic and using my brain rather than heart – some sense of my moral code of ethics tells me taking care of my parents and preserving the relationship is important.  Even if they are pathetic people and did a terrible job raising me for the most part.

Anyone else have Mommy and Daddy issues they overcame?  What’s the right way out here?  Lessons learned?

7 thoughts on “Mom Looks Old – Is this a signal I should start being a better son?

  1. amelie

    *Sigh this is very sad Atticus because you’re not alone. So many people face this issue, several of my friends are in the same boat. I felt the same guilt about my aunt living in a dreadful trailer home, and I really wished I could buy her a house.

    Now that she’s gone, I don’t regret not buying her a house. I am just glad I spent time with her and wished I had visited her more. That’s probably all your mom wants. Company. Instead of buying her a house maybe it would be better to spend the money on a private nurse or someone who could drive her to see her family?

    I don’t know about evolution as humans have diverged to consider many types of people as “relatives”, but I was taught to respect my elders, and it sounds like you were too. I consider it vital for a healthy society.

  2. jon

    That must be really difficult.

    It may be that spending more time with her will make you and her feel better – that’s hard to say.

    You mentioned that she can barely hold it together and cries almost instantly – and one might say that anyone in her situation (being handicapped, no car, living alone in project housing) would feel like she does. But that’s probably not the case. Her emotional state is another issue – and I’m guessing she wasn’t in such a good place emotionally even when her external circumstances were better. I don’t know if she has access to mental health counseling, but helping her into that (or back into that) could be a positive thing.

    It must be hard for you to spend time with her since she cries almost instantly, plus the negative memories you have of her and your dad from the past. One thing that, even for a therapist, if someone feels like they’re in a hole, your job isn’t to get into the hole with them, but to let them come out of the hole with you. I think that applies here too. It sounds like, as it is now, sustaining a relationship with her is going to be emotionally exhausting for you – and you may have trouble maintaining it even if you give a push to re-connect now.

    1. Atticus Finch Post author

      Thanks for the words Jon. It is semi-stressful for me when I’m around her, but it’s just a personal thing I have to work on for myself. I try to give her plans of action to get better, but unless I hold her hand she never starts or follows through. That goes for mental and physical health.

      We live far apart and between my own life and career it’s hard for me to give her the time it would require without it interfering with my own life (crawling into the whole with her…). So it’s a tough spot. Balancing trying to do the right thing for her and for myself/my wife.

      I do know one thing. Living through this I do know this is a burden I never want to put on my hypothetical future children. My parents’ situation has certainly shaped the way I think about things and given me a unique perspective – that I do appreciate.

  3. philebersole

    During the last year of my own mother’s life, I neglected visiting her in her nursing home. I was in Rochester, NY, and she was in Hagerstown, Md., 300 miles away, but I could have gotten down to visit her. I will regret this until the day I die.

    I had problems relating my mother for reasons I’m not going to get into now, but from the perspective of 35 years, none of these things matter much.

    Maybe if I had visited her in her last year of life, I could have resolved some of these things.

    I urge you to learn from my mistake. Visit your mother. I am sure she wants your company more than she wants you to buy her things.


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