Friday, January 06, 2006

When Moms Become Big Babies

I knew it was coming. When I got up to let the dog out in the morning, her car was still there, despite the time.

My mother, I should explain, lives across the street from me. With her parents. The whole lot of them have various medical problems which require Mom to miss a lot of work and piss off her supervisors. But recently Mom's begun a type of chemotherapy, used not for cancer, but to treat a chronic virus in her liver. It leaves her very weak and unable to do much for several days. Along with these weekly injections, she has to deal with about 16 pills a day, plus her Paxil, and her diabetes. One of the side effects from one of those many pills is murderous rage. Which is what the Paxil is for. So far so good. No dead people.

So finding that she has stayed home Thursday morning is not wholly unexpected, although it was just a bit odd, since her next injection wasn't supposed to be until the next day.

Around 10:00 Grandma calls and asks that I send my brother over to move Mom's car for her, since Mom doesn't feel good enough to do so herself. I go and wake up the Loafer.

And I wait. It's coming, I just know it. But in the meantime, I have two sick children of my own to deal with, so I tend to their screams and snot.

Sure enough, at 15:15 I get the call.

Me: Hello?
Mom: *cough cough cough*
Me: Mom?
Mom: [Sleepless Maaaamaaaaa], I'm siiiiiiick.
Me: Uh-huh. What's wrong?
Mom: My ears hurt and I'm tired and I have a sinus infection.
Me: Have you taken anything yet?
Mom: No. *cough* The doctor said I can take OTC stuff for a sinus infection.
Me: Okay.
Mom: Can you go get some for me?
Me: I don't have the car seats, and there's no one to watch the girls. But I'll tell you what. I'll have Bizarro Dad stop at the pharmacy on the way home and pick some up for you, okay?
Mom: Okayyyy. *sniff*
Me: Have you taken your meds today?
Mom: (pause) No. Nobody has given them to me.
Me: (pause) What?
Mom: Your Grandma hasn't come to give me anything.
Me: Have you had any orange juice?
Mom: No.
Me: Have you gotten up?
Mom: No, I'm just here in my underwear.
Me: Mom! No wonder you feel like crap. Get up and put something on, and go get a drink. I'll come over to help you just as soon as Gina wakes up from her nap.
Mom: Okay.

Later in the afternoon I load up the kids in the wagon, along with a can of soup and other supplies, plus Mom's birthday gift (a day early) and make the trek across the street to tend to my mother.

Gina hands her the gift bag. It's a nice, new, soft, fluffy pink bathrobe with matching slippers. I figured if she was lying around nekkid, she'd need something to cover up with sooner rather than later.

I make sure everyone gets fed, and that Mom gets medicated. Her pill box, I find, are lying in her purse on the ironing board, only about four feet away from her actual body. It astounds me that she was unable to get up and take them, yet she's clearly been able to get up and put on a night gown and go to the bathroom. Anyway, the kids play, we watch TV, Mom asks for her sugar-free ice cream (again in the kid voice), Bizarro Dad arrives with the sinus meds, the girls go home with him, I stay with Mom in case she needs anything else until about 22:00, then go home and put my oldest child to bed.

I wonder to myself when I went from her child to her parent. My mother and I had kind of a different relationship. She was certainly an adult when she had me, but she was kind of mentally unstable at the time, and then later she became an alcoholic, and my grandmother took up most of the everyday responsibility in raising me.

Somewhere along the line my mother began to think of me more as a sister than as a daughter. Which was probably all well and good for her, but back then I felt like I just had an irresponsible, embarrassing, moody, alcoholic mother. The thought of her being my sister never crossed my mind until she said something to that effect. I was a teenager at the time, and living with my father by then. She was drunk and upset about something or other, and tried to say some nonsense about how it would be good if I could just be her sister. "Mom, stop it," I told her firmly. "I am not your sister. I am your daughter. You are my mother. That's the way it is." Which I suppose was about as close as I was willing to come to saying "Lady, grow up already. All your problems are of your own making, and I am in no position to help you get out of them."

Now, of course, it's different. I'm a grown woman in my late twenties. Mom is a recovering alcoholic, been sober for two whole years. Sometimes she watches the kids for me (or she did before her liver treatments began). She's much more coherent, very reliable, and not so childish.

Except, apparently, when she has a sinus infection.

But I guess it's okay. She did give birth to me. I can stand a little child-like whining for the woman who went through about 14 hours of labor for me (not to mention being pregnant three weeks past her due date).

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