I Miss My Mom (When You Become the Parent to Your Parent)

There’s something about little boys and their moms. For some reason, being around your mom makes you feel like you’re 9 years old—regardless of how old you may be at the time. My mom never recognized that I had grown up, married, and raised children of my own. Sure, she loved my sons, but to her, they were “her” grandsons much more than they were ever my sons. She never recognized that I had a career that required a lot of self-discipline and wise decision making. She always had to add her advice to make sure I was doing the things I needed to do to grow up healthy.

To understand my mom, you have to know her mother died when she was 14. Overnight, she became the mother of her three younger sisters. My mom was never an adolescent. She went from being a child to be an adult overnight. My mom has always been in charge. She’s extremely strong, and she only respects strength. Silence, to my mom, meant either you agreed or you didn’t know. Either way, she felt empowered to make the decision—whatever that decision may be.

And now, she’s not in charge. I make all of the decisions. I tell her what doctors she’ll see. I pay her bills. Her friends call me to see if she can go to lunch the way my friends used to call her to see if I could come out and play. She’s knows this, and it frustrates her.

She wants a car. The doctor says she can’t drive. She still fights me every day to go buy her a car. She points out the kind of car she wants. She even tells me what color she wants. My mom knows I’m not going to buy her a car. It’s a point of pride for her.

She reminds me of times when I messed up while I was growing up. (Funny, for all of the things she can’t remember anymore, she can remember a surprising number of my failures.) She does this to remind me I’m not qualified to be in charge of her life.

Her fights with me have a desperate quality about them—like she’s trying to grab hold of something so she won’t just slip away.

But she is slipping away. Every day it seems she gets a little further away. I told my wife it’s like my mom is getting further and further away from her eyes. When I look into my mom’s eyes, I know she’s in there. She’s in there somewhere, but she’s getting harder and harder to find.

Like I said, when a boy is around his mom, he’s just 9 years old. I’m 9. I want my mom to come and tell me I can do this. I want her to tell me I’m strong, and I’ll get through this. I want her to tell me she’s known God had something special for my life the first time she held me in the hospital after I was born.

I want her to tell me it’s going to be all right.

But it’s not. It’s not going to be right until Jesus calls her home. She knows that. I know that.

I’ll miss my mom then, too.

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6 thoughts on “I Miss My Mom (When You Become the Parent to Your Parent)

  1. Thank you for your truth. At just 65, and 9 years with Alzheimer’s, my mother is resting comfortably at home with the care of family and Hospice tonight as we pray, as we wait, as we love and wish we were 9 years old. I was just 33 years old at her diagnosis, newlywed and 3 babies later…God was, and is, my only strength…just as my mother taught me He would be.
    I’m praying for you, your family and your precious mother.

  2. I read your tweets on Coffee with Mom. I know the hurtful things she says must hurt terribly. You can’t believe your loving Mom would say such things. You think, doesn’t she know how much I love her? The reason I know this is because I’m experiencing the same thing with my Mom. She moved in with my family 22 years ago when my Dad died. My kids grew up with their Grandma always being around. So now when she accuses me of stealing her bank statements or writing checks, it’s hard for me to believe she’s the same Mom. She’s depressed much of the time now. She tells the Lord every day she’s ready to go home. I told her she hasn’t finished doing the Lord’s work yet. She’s still a prayer warrior and reads her Bible every morning. When I look back in my journal, I’m always surprised how long this has been going on. I’m praying for your family and the toll this takes on you! I understand!

  3. I also have an aging mom and assisted living. I know how you feel. I had to take time to dry my tears and get my emotions in control before I wrote this. God bless you.

  4. Thanks so much for sharing your heart on this, Mike. Your care of your mother has been inspiring (and was a benchmark for my mom to use in reminding us of all you did for your mom.) It’s painful to see a parent slipping away slowly and not be able to do much about it. While blessed to have my mother pass in her sleep, we still experienced the same elements of watching her decline, not having the choices of doctors and other things be ideal as they had been. Yet we tried to do what we thought was best for her. Even though mothers still see us as their young children (the baby of the family always remains the baby, even when he/she is on Medicare) moms are still very proud of those children and I’m sure your mom is proud of you (whether she says so or not.) May God bless you with wisdom and peace as you care for her.

  5. Mike, I have just read some of the conversations you have with your Mom. Breaks my heart. I know this is a terrible disease and so sorry you are having to go through this. I know your Mom was always so proud of you. Would love to talk with you sometime. Send my love to your sweet Mother.

  6. Having similar history with my Mom, I understand the pain that comes with those of us that have mothers who suffer with althzimers. Witnessing personality changes with the loss of memory is devastating. Praying for you Mike as you travel this difficult path.