But at times, it was just a matter of doing what I knew was right, even if mom didn’t seem to agree, or it caused a time of silent “time out” for the two of us. As her condition deteriorated, and age began to steal the alertness of her mind, trying to convince her to take her meds, or agree to a medical treatment for her legs became a difficult process. At times she would be sure I had already given her the medications, or the treatments had already been done; and a verbal tug of war would begin. It took strategy, patience, and focus to get the needed tasks done for her. A sense of humor was important, and then just going on to the next thing, quickly, and with an offer of a tidbit of something she liked to munch on, or listening to music which she loved. She was diabetic with serious health conditions, so I made sure there were things in the refrigerator like fresh fruit, apple juice, crackers and cheese, things I knew she would enjoy and stay within the right boundaries of her diet.
At a certain point, I had to learn to accept the limits I had in caring for her. At times I would find myself acting as if I were her mother, and treating her as a child. She also saw it, and it was damaging our relationship. I had to come to terms that no matter how frail she became, no matter what limitations she had; she was still my mother. She deserved, and must be given the respect and dignity of a mother. The times I caught her with open bags of candy…..almost completely gone, or smoking even when she knew the consequences of what it was doing to her legs; I had to close my eyes, and talk to myself before going into her room. I learned to continue to maintain an emphasis on love, and compassion while also gently correcting the situation and giving her as much quality care as I could. At the end of the day, this is really all we can do.
We cannot be responsible for someone else’s choices. We talked openly about what smoking was doing to her health, and she knew how much it hurt me to watch her continue to do it; but I could not force her to stop. I had to make up my mind whether I was going to continue to love her and care for her, no matter what. For me, the answer was simple; she was my mother.
When I developed this approach, it improved the situation between us, and calmed the "troubled waters".