An open letter to my mother in law about what it’s truly like taking care of her mother.
Where should I start? Part of me is frustrated and angry with you. You and your brother promised your mother that you’d take care of her once she got old, and told her she’d never be put in a home. But neither of you are there for her now, caught up in your own addictions, destructive habits and highly toxic relationships. Your mother doesn’t deserve to be around that anyway. To keep her out of living in a home, I, at 29 years old, have stepped up to the plate to take care of her. Also, your son, my husband, has stepped up when I felt too exhausted day in and day out. However, taking care of her is a gift that I shouldn’t ever take for granted.
Each day I watch as your mother improves with a nurse, and a physical and occupational therapist coming in our home to help your mother keep in good health, gain strength and independence. Although most days she’s in pain due to having hip surgery and arthritis, she pushes on and she’s quite strong for 80. I tell her everyday how proud I am of her, even when she gets winded easily.
I help her 24/7 with tasks that you and I would take for granted. Multiple bathroom trips at night is the time when I’m very thankful to have your son help me so I can get rest after a busy day. On top of caring for my own two daughters, your granddaughters, I also make sure she’s fed with good dippy eggs with butter toast each morning, (I’m not much of a cook but each day I’m getting better!), make sure she has her morning meds along with breathing treatments, and help her take care of her prosthetic leg. I accompany her to appointments and help be her voice when she has trouble saying what she needs or what exactly is wrong. I help her grocery shop and help her pick what foods she should eat and shouldn’t be eating being a diabetic. I help her with phone calls, and writing out checks for her bills. I help bathe her, clothe her, and make sure she’s comfortable when she sleeps. All of that takes a toll on me, but I do it not just because you’re not here to help her, but because I love her.
I somedays used to wish you could be there when she goes to numerous doctor appointments, just to see how your mother’s health is. I wish you were here when I took her to the ER so you knew how much pain she truly is in. I wish that you could see how much she’s improving with physical and occupational therapy, and how proud the therapists are with her progress at her age. I used to wish you would call her, just to see how she was doing and how her day was. I used to wish you were here when she cries, wishing things were the way they used to be. She loves you unconditionally, and I just wish you’d show her the same love.
But I’ve come to the realization that she doesn’t necessarily need you here. She has her grandson, who’s always been there for her, her great granddaughters who love being around their Grammy, and myself, who will always be here to look after her until she takes her last breath. She also has countless other family members and friends who see what a treasure your mother is, and will always help out when they have the time.
Taking care of your mother has been an absolute life changing experience and she truly has become a strong mother figure who I look up to. She is the most patient, kind, and hardworking woman that I’ve ever met, and I thank God everyday for her. I’d be lying if I said everyday was easy. It’s hard, very hard, but I push through it because she needs me to be that person you’re supposed to be. We might not always see eye to eye, but when it came down to it, I’d drop the issue at hand to fully take care of her the best way that I possibly can. I hope that you’re reading this and I hope this letter opens up your eyes to the reality if not my feelings, but the feelings of your mother.
By Kandice Confer
Kandice is an adopted twin, wife, and mother of two girls who loves spending time with her family and two rabbits. She currently cares for her husband’s grandmother, and loves to journal about the ups and downs of caregiving. She loves reading and writing inspirational works of literature and loves telling stories.