Changes. The only thing that stays the same in life, right? Last week, Mom left a message in my voice mail. “Don’t call me back, this wonderful thing I just got…”
A trip to the hospital for Afib requires a change in medication and learning how to recognize what Afib feels like and when to call the ambulance. But that’s not all – it’s just the continuous cycle of change that happens. Sitting down and looking back at our whole picture of the last 6 months or so, it’s easy to see the stress.
Embrace the change.
Along with retiring, Mom has recently got a new smartphone (to replace her old semi smart phone), her retirement gift is a beautiful laptop computer to replace an old Gateway desktop she had that barely boot up. A person may say- “There that ought to keep you busy for a while!” As predicted, it only brings more frustration in the beginning. Learning takes time.
Recently, at a business lunch one of my friends said, “It’s a little rough when the roles reverse and I am the parent.” For me, I feel more like a coach than I feel like a parent. (Though being child free and raising dogs, I must be honest, I am not sure what “parent” duties or feelings might be.) Yes, I help make decisions but I don’t make rules or give orders. Nobody gets grounded when they don’t get accomplished what was on a list somewhere. We are working together, weighing options. I am a sounding board, not a judge.
This role must come naturally to me because in my work life that happens often even with our clients. We often have lunch together and talk about things that may or may not have anything to do with web development (which is what my company does), solving problems is a process. This is no different than dealing with Mom’s life. She lives alone, she needs people to bounce ideas off of. Last post “Retired not expired,” is exactly about that. Maybe she isn’t dressing all fancy to go to her 8-5, but she still likes to dress fancy!
Tip: If I could give a little big sister tip to anyone out there in their mid 30’s, I would suggest to cultivate this relationship today or if you are the senior then check in with your kids and start asking them to be in your future planning decision making process, now. When the hard stuff comes along, you have had plenty of dress rehearsals in this type of communication and it goes more smoothly.
When Mom gets frustrated, she tells me she feels like she should know something, know how to figure something out on her own and she can’t. I know that feeling myself. For me, when that happens it feels like my brain freezes and then of course I can’t figure anything out.
Mom can knit Irish knit sweaters while I can barely get a scarf done. The things that seem obvious to me or to my nieces or nephew are not to her and vice versa. A phonebook? She uses one. I seldom do. I’m not sure if my nieces or nephew know what one is. When she needs an answer it is not automatic for her to pick up her phone to go look up something on a website or “Google” something.
Get family involved.
Helping Mom learn new tech has been a team effort. Not only can I not know everything, I don’t live next door. My brother has helped with her laptop, my eldest niece has provided moral support and lots of check-ins. These projects are ways we all can be a part of Mom’s life. And if your family is spread all over the place, using tech like facetime or skype helps everyone stay in touch. And in the end, these are the things that are tomorrow’s memories. As James Otto says, “These are the Good Old Days.” We need to appreciate today.
My Mother taught us many things, read better, family traditions, make a “no-bowl” cake. The list of Mom duties are long and my Mom did them all with love, repetitively- until we got it. Now it’s OUR turn.