Becoming A New Mother In Midlife

No one is planning a baby shower. I won’t get any cards of congratulations. Friends are not offering to babysit or calling me with bits of wisdom on my new role in life.

 

I have become a new mother in midlife but there will be no celebrations. Just a sad realization that time and age are cruel.

 

It has been a slow progression for years but the transition is complete. The roles are now completely reversed. My baby is 86. As dependent on me as a newborn. My baby is my mother.

 

My mother has had many health problems in her life and there were many times she was in hospital. So to some extent, I was prepared for the physical needs I would have to fulfil, helping her dress, eat and yes, change her diapers. I had done it before, albeit temporary till she recovered from surgery or an illness. But even when her body was failing her in the past, she was still always the mother; quick to offer sage advice, a shoulder to cry on or to scold you for doing something stupid.

 

But no one or anything can prepare you for the final stage. The transfer of all the emotional and psychological needs that you once relied on in your mother being now thrust upon you. Your go to person is gone.

 

I am her advocate and go between for any and all contact outside our family. She looks to me to advise and make decisions regarding her care. I am the one that scolds her for not eating or getting proper sleep. And most of all, I am now her soother and her comfort zone.

 

Just like when my children were little and I would have to leave to go to work, she asks when am I coming back with such sad and frightened eyes. It’s heart-breaking to witness someone who was once strong-willed and confident become so scared and unsure. But worst of all, there are moments when my mother is acutely aware that this shift has taken place and feels like a burden she can not lift from my shoulders.

 

It is very hard to navigate this new role. She’s my mother and still deserves respect and dignity even when she can not take care of herself or has irrational thoughts and feelings, just like a baby. She lives only in the right now because there may not be a tomorrow.

 

I am not sure I am successfully dealing with these new responsibilities. And the emotional toll on me is huge and draining. But as long as she’s prepared to fight, I will be by her side.

 

I am 51 but I am still somebody’s baby. And I am not ready to give that up yet.

 

No one is planning a baby shower for this new mother in midlife. I won’t get any cards of congratulations. Friends are not offering to babysit or calling me with bits of wisdom on my new role in life.
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49 thoughts on “Becoming A New Mother In Midlife

  1. I can definitely relate to your situation. I lost my dad at 25 when he was hit by a car and left in a coma and my mom at 33 from liver failure. In both cases they had to be cared for and the hardest part was making the decisions.

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  2. What a great, and emotional, post. I think that the fact that you worry that you’re not handling your new role well just shows that you’re doing great. It’s not easy, for either of you, but I’m sure you’re both handling it he best that you can. #BlogShareLearn

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  3. Wow…your post hit me hard. Maybe because that’s where I’ll be sometime in the future (since I’m an only child). The way you spoke through this post was truly heart wrenching—I wish you some joy along the way! jodie

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  4. I know how you feel Elena – I had my mum live with us for a month or so after a knee replacement and I became the mother while she became the child. I kept worrying that I wasn’t sympathetic enough, or patient enough, or equipped enough to take on the role (especially when others seem to do it so naturally). Ultimately your mum will be so blessed by spending her last days/months or years in your care and it will leave you with many wonderful memories (just go outside and scream/cry now and then to get it off your chest).

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    1. You get exactly what I am feeling Leanne! Sometimes I do worry I am being too rough. And yes, I am trying to make some good memories when she is doing better and there is nothing like crying or screaming in the shower. It is really cleansing for so many reasons.

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  5. It’s so sad watching our parents become dependant when we were the ones that depended on them for so much. That change in roles is tough, made all the worse as we’re grieving for the person who was and can be no longer. It takes strength and courage and your Mum is lucky to have such a kind and dedicated daughter. Wishing you extra reserves of strength and courage.

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  6. Hi Elena,

    The site looks great and your post brought tears to my eyes. Thankfully, I am not at that point but I can only imagine how painful and conflicting it would be.

    Shellie

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  7. I feel for you. Growing up, one of my grandmothers and later one of my grandfathers moved into our house. Even as a kid I saw how tough it was on my mom to see her parents age and become less and less able to take care of themselves. I don’t look forward to the day when it’s my turn. I wish you much strength!

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  8. This is a difficult role, Elena. I was only my mother’s caregiver in the true sense for 3 weeks and it was a privilege and a burden at the same time. I was glad to do it and wouldn’t have it any other way. I pray that all goes well for you and your mother during this precious time you have together. I miss my mom every day.

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  9. Wow, Elena, this is amazing. Like Katie, I did kind of wonder for a minute. 😀 This is such a real thing for so many people, caring for aging parents plus handling all the rest of life.
    Also? Website is beautiful!

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  10. Such a moving post, Elena. Raw emotion, incredible strength, and love-as-it-should-be.
    As-it-should-be doesn’t make it easy though, I feel for you hun. Your Mum is lucky to have such a beautiful soul for a daughter.

    Your new blog design looks fab! x

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  11. Having been there, done that, I understand all too well what you’re going through. It’s all too true that no one prepares us for the emotional roller coaster ride that parental caregiving is. All I can say is to be sure to take respite when you can–even if it’s just for a hot bath or a walk around the block–and seek support when you need it. It’s the equivalent of the oxygen mask you must don first before you can help anyone else. Thinking of you, Elena.

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  12. It’s so tough and nobody tells you what it’s like to have aging parents.

    I did think for a minute you were pregnant though, so there’s that to be grateful for (that you’re not).

    And the new website looks great. I love it!

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