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I Refuse To Be The One Who Takes Care Of My Aging Mom

There’s just too much d*mn baggage.

by Anonymous
JGI/Jamie Grill/Tetra images/Getty Images

Right now, my mother is healthy and independent, living alone as a divorced woman. But she’s in her seventies, and I know her situation could change overnight. I’ve been having conversations with my siblings since my mom was in her late 50s about what happens when she can no longer live alone. And I was clear: She wouldn’t be moving into my house.

To me, it’s pretty simple: Taking care of my mom wouldn’t be good for my mental health, and I don’t think it would be good for hers, either. My mom deserves to have someone caring for her that wants to be around her, not someone who can barely stand her and has a lot of anger toward her.

When I was a little girl, I vividly remember knowing that I was the least favorite child. While my siblings were quiet, introverted, and spent hours playing alone, I was very social and wanted to talk and dance and listen to music. And it was the complete opposite of my parents’ personalities and frowned upon.

When I was about 10, I wanted to chat to my mom about friendship drama, clothes, and boys. It was clear she couldn’t care less. She’d sigh while making dinner and say things like, “You’ll get over it,” or “I never liked her anyway.” To me it felt like she found me annoying, silly, like I didn’t matter.

When we all got older, she bought all my siblings clothes and skincare products, but because I liked to work — mostly for the social aspect — she told me I could buy my school clothes and shoes myself. And so I did.

I’ve struggled with my mother my entire life. We’ve been to counseling separately and together. We’ve tried talking about it.

I’ve purposely kept a lot of my feelings about my mother from my siblings, because when I went to them about it when I was younger, it made me feel worse. They know about our history, and while they understand why I have to keep my mother at a distance, they don’t share the same memories of her as I do. It never ceases to amaze me how different siblings can have totally different childhood experiences under the same roof.

And so I’ve made it perfectly clear, for some time now, that there’s no way I’ll be able to care for our mom if it ever comes to that. I can barely be around her at family gatherings.I’ve tried to let go of all the negative feelings I have for my mother and the only way they are manageable is if I limit my time with her, and the time we do spend together is buffered by other people.

It may seem mean and selfish, but I’m okay with that because I think it would be worse for me to commit to something that I know I can’t handle. In the end, I’m not only protecting myself and my kids from the toll it would take; I’m protecting my mom, too.