Tuesday, October 25, 2005


What is it about our parents that gives them the power to make us feel like we're naughty children again? Or is it just my mother?

I am all cried out this morning. Yesterday did NOT go well. Not that I expected it would, but I did expect to be able to get out of mum and dad's house without a screaming match. Stupid me. I managed to get away from there just before bursting into tears, whereupon I went and sat on my friends porch crying for an hour waiting for her to get home. The tears came again in the middle of the night after rehashing the events of the day and realising that yet again my mother has managed to make me feel like a horrible person.

I'm exhausted. Monkey Boy, who sat up with me and helped talk me through the anguish, is also exhausted. Spudly took the opportunity to start a bit of enthusiastic dancing on my cervix to let me know that he/she actually is still alive.

Apart from the usual crap that she spews forth in these situations (nothing wrong, not having help, blah blah) she also took the opportunity to let me know that:
  • If I hadnt left her at the supermarket that day she would never have had the fall and wouldnt be injured in the first place.
  • I dont care about her at all, I only care about my father.
  • I dont care about anyone but myself.
  • I'm an interfering, problem-causing bitch.
  • I've never done anything to help them before so why start now.
  • I should just go home and leave her alone and not come back.
Her behaviour, the tone of her voice, the look on her face, all took me instantly back to when I was 14 and she was going through menopause in a permanently psychotic state. I still bear the emotional scars from that period of my life. I didnt really need such a vivid reminder of exactly what it was like.

Dad's GP is very concerned about the situation, very concerned about mum's fall and the fact that she hasnt had any treatment, and very concerned about the level of care (or lack thereof) that dad is getting. But here's the thing: our wonderful health system seems to operate on the premise that the patient has to want assistance before they can receive it. Yes, that's right. Ask the crazy person if they're insane. Even if I could get an ACAT (Aged Care Assessment Team) through the door, they will ask dad (with dementia) if he needs help, and ask my mum (lying, in denial, stubborn and/or suffering head trauma or complete breakdown) if she needs help. Neither one will say yes, so they wont get help.

And that is the bottom line. I could go to the Supreme Court to have the Medical Power of Attorney declared invalid. Which, it turns out, it is, since dad already had dementia when he signed it. Then I would have to apply for Guardianship of dad, if not both of them. And then what? I'm solely responsible for every single decision about my parents lives while trying to get through this pregnancy and deal with a new baby? Monkey Boy made it perfectly clear that even if I were insane enough to consider this option, he would put both feet firmly down and absolutely forbid it.

I feel like no matter what I do at this point, I am doing the wrong thing. If I do everything possible to help my parents, I'm putting my own health and Spudly's at risk. If I look after myself and Spud then I'm putting my parents' health at risk. If I accept that the system is fucked then I am condoning it, helping to perpetuate its fuckedness and letting down people who manifestly need help.

There is nothing I can do to help my parents without - ultimately - compromising the health of Spudly. Therefore the only thing I can do is walk away. And this sits very painfully with me.


  1. Oh my GAWD, girl. I can't believe what you are having to go through right now... this is just BRUTAL.

    I say we lock your mother and my mother in a room together, and we see what's left after a couple hours. GAH!

    Not to be flippant, darlin'... but I can't believe there are TWO women like this in the world... and that their SPAWN end up meeting on an infertility blog.

    When my father had a quadruple by-pass a couple years back, the Doctors told me that my mother HAD to change the way she was cooking... lots of red meat, whole-fat dairy products, processed deli meats, and vegetables drowning in butter and cream sauces. And of course... five packs of cigarettes a day to top it all off. ACK! I remember sitting her down, while Dad was still in the hospital, and tried to talk to her CALMLY about the GRADUAL changes she could start to make. Yah.. well... in the middle of the restaurant she starts wailing and sobbing about how MEAN and EVIL I am... that I don't understand how hard it is on her that my Dad is in the hospital and how her days are all in upheaval because she can't run her errands at the usual times because Dad's visiting hours get in the way, and how my Dad had the nerve to be SLEEPING when she would visit so what was the point of her sitting on those uncomfortable chairs... and oh my GOD she can't believe I'm suggesting she change her cooking because now I'm saying that she's MURDERING my father and it's HER fault that he's in the hospital and how DARE I approach the topic of smoking because it's just FAR to hard on her right now and she doesn't care if my Dad has to stop he would NEVER ask her to stop at such a difficult time. ARGHH!!! Same attitude... different country... Can you believe how alike they are???

  2. Cherice2:27 pm

    Horrible, horrible situation. I think the fact that you keep visiting your mum and dad means that you do care. If you didn't care about them why would you put yourself through so much torment from your mother? Why would you have tried to help her get help for her hip? Why would you keep running errands for them both even though mum doesn't say thank you?

    I agree with Monkey boy. You and Spudly are first priority. Dealing with a fucked system would be hard without being pregnant. Dealing with a fucked system when you are is impossible. Walking away from your parent's situation is the best thing that you can do for you and Spudly. Would your family stress and care for you the way that you are for them if something were to happen to you, Spudly or both of you?

    Let's face it. The system has been fucked for a very long time. I have my own experiences of trying to have a brother and mother admitted for psychosis at varying times and even when they are a risk to themselves and others it is near on impossible to have them admitted when they need to be and that's even with a history of admissions. Tell me, what schizophrenic woman or psychotic man is going to say, oh yes, I'm having another psychotic espisode/drug induced psychosis. I agree with you doctor. I need to be admitted. Give me a freaking break!!!!

    Never have I experienced you to be unkind, heartless, uncaring or thoughtless and when you have a spit, IMHO, it's totally justified.

  3. My mom can still make me feel like I'm a child too. I think it's something we never grow out of.

    Regardless of that though, I'm sorry you're going through this at all. I wish there was more that could be done to help you intervene.

  4. Panda, I cannot tell you what to do but I can tell you two things I firmly believe in:

    - We are our own salvation (a.k.a. we can't save those who do not wish to be saved)

    - You cannot change how your mother treats you but you can change how you let her affect you.

    Your mother is highly manipulative and even if you were to endanger Spudly I don't think you could change much, quite frankly. This is the strategy she has adopted all her life and it has obviously served her well (if it hadn't she would have changed it). You can only change how you interact with her, and your acceptance of their "independence" and "autonomy". Meaning, even if they are clearly deranged, you have done all you could possibly do. No one can save others by proxy. Much like the lamp in the joke, they truly must want to be changed. They do not. You have done all that is within your power and your first allegiance should always be to yourself. You must love yourself the best and not even for your child or your Monkey Boy - for yourself, bcs you deserve it, we all do, we all deserve clean living, as pain-free as possible. Every one of us is our first certainty, upon which all others are built. That, I believe, is the first step for quality of life - and life is too bloody short anyway. It truly is.

    At the end of the day, you cannot change your parents' life but you can decide whether to give them the power to further ruin yours.

  5. Jesus, I'm exhausted just READING this, Panda.

    I know that walking away seems like the only option to keep yourself sane. Seriously, your hands are tied if they can't get treatment unless they request it (which just SUCKS. I might ask Monkey to talk to a lawyer about it for you and see if there are any options you can take to at least save your father's health (since your mother is the one who is actively refusing treatment, and your father is the victim of that, through absolutely no fault of his own).

    Seriously, reading this makes me want to take a nap. I think you should take one RIGHT NOW.

  6. Agree with Lioness wholeheartedly. You need to protect yourself here. I will hope for you that they eventually will be able to see all you want to do is help them. It is a hard thing to convince parents of. I know first hand and all I can say is keep saying you love them and want to help. Hopefully someday they will hear you.

  7. Panda, I'm so sorry you have to go through this right now. How awful. If it helps, you're making the only decision you can. You are not PUTTING your parents at risk; it might sound like a fine distinction I'm making, but there is a big difference. It's crazy that the situation in Australia is that way; how does anyone get any help?

    Hang in there, my dear. You're great, and you're a good daughter, too. None of this changes that.

  8. You're right - it's just not on! Do you have any siblings? If you do, I hope that (a) they're planning to make an appearance real soon to help you out (even if only in the short term), and (b) they know just what an amazing job you're doing.

    My parent's have odd views on aging (they're 65 and 69 right now, and doing not bad - touch wood and pray to God it continues). My father loves mountaineering (yes, at his age) and thinks that the best thing would be for him to drop dead of a heart attack at the summit of one of his favourite hills (nice for him, not so nice for us or the mountain rescue people!). My mother insists that we put her in an old folks home (with dad, if he hasn't achieved mountain-top nirvanah by then) when she starts to get at all infirm/senile. Senility DOES run on that side of the family. I know her though, and she does NOT accept help (unless it's on her terms) and I just can't imagine the whole getting-her-into-an-old-folks-home-thing going quite as smoothly as she suggests it might!

    Are we really meant to parent our parents (rhetorical question, obviously!)? And if we are, could it not wait until we've had our own kids and got them to a stage where they can fend for themselves a bit - surely it's not too much for us to ask? I forsee changing my parents' diapers without ever getting to change one on a child of my own.

    Your first duty of care is to Spudly, and there's noone in the world who should make you feel bad about that!


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