What To Do? When Is It Right To Be Selfish?

I have posted on this subject before, and it gets harder every time the subject hits my heart: When it comes to dealing with privacy and marriage, it shouldn’t have to feel as if the parent you’re caring for has to die before feeling a sense of freedom, should it? No.

What the ego tells me is if I help my mother find her freedom, which she only half-wants, I am being selfish, and mean. Am I, really? My strong-willed self feels otherwise. I love my mother dearly, and there’s no question that I want so much for her. However, I think I’ve given all I can as far as providing in that way.

She deserves to be happy, yes, but I see us butting heads nowadays. She and I have been close since I was a child, and my sister even bowed out from helping, and it drives me nuts whenever the subject comes up between us, and she turns away. I never understood why, and it frustrates me. Maybe my sister sees something I don’t?

It’s hard to say, but it’s obvious that my sister and her husband want nothing to do with the affairs of my mother. I am upset that my husband and I have been left with everything regarding mom, and my sister claims her job was to take care of my dad only; as if her job is done, but mine never will be.

I feel like Eleanor in The Haunting, where she wants out from having to deal with her mother. Then her mother dies, leaving her broke, and unable to pay her rent, so she ends up going on a paid excursion that ends up eventually taking her life in the process.

It’s strange, but I felt a kinship with Eleanor in The Haunting, and I think that was why; she finally achieves freedom in death. I’m not saying ‘I’ or ‘she’ wished to die, I’m saying that she was meant to be there. She was meant to find her way home. I expressed to my husband last night that I felt like I was never meant to have a full-on marriage with him due to my being the caretaker. He remained silent after those words. He also spoke very softly, like he was hurt. I asked him if he was upset, and he said no, that he was only tired.

What do you say to a couple that feels as if they’re spread too thin? How does that couple deal with such a sacrifice? He said a while back that he wanted to have children with me, but after he was talking about how he wanted my sister to take my mom in, I have a feeling he has changed his mind. I know, a lot of people are generally quick to come up and say, “But having kids is different.” Really? Is it, really? In my situation, it is nearly impossible to see children as a separate issue, as my parents have always been there.

Sure, they raised me, and I was guilt tripped into believing it is my ‘duty’ to my parents to take care of them as they raised me, so I owe them. To that ‘person’ I say this: Who are you to decide whether or not my parents feel that way about raising me, when they ‘wanted’ to raise me? They never saw my being there as something I owe them. My parents are a lot like me; the type not to ask for something in return after services rendered. When I told them of that guilt trip, they got angry, and yelled at that person.

My mother is a kind woman who raised me to be a strong-willed feminist who stands up for herself, not someone who gathers money from others to fund my own ambitions. I never was raised on life-play. Sure, she and I understand energy exchange, but raising someone, which happens to be a given in life when you have a child you ‘want,’ is not a reason to guilt trip someone into ‘being there’ for them.

When it comes to the life-play, it’s a very human exchange in the essence of, ‘you scratch my back, I will scratch yours.’ Do they though? Not always. Either way, my being her child does not exist in the category of raising me being a chore, or done out of the kindness of her own heart. It was done because she wanted me in her life, and felt her life was not complete without me in it.

As far as being in her life, I feel the same about her, and don’t even want to contemplate her not being a part of my life. I dread the day she leaves this plane, and joins my dad because I am that attached to her. However, how much longer must it continue? No, I’m not the type to throw my mom in a retirement home because I plan to forget about her. I do want her to get the care she deserves, but she’s not desperate for that type of care yet.

The thought that scares her about her uncharted future is that she’s lived with the family she created most of her life, which makes it difficult to live anywhere on her own now. She’s like a teenager turning 18, is just graduating high school, and she will soon be living on campus for six months studying art at NIU. She is nervous, scared, and has not let it sink in that she did, in fact, do this before, and survived. Sure, she was younger, and the times were much simpler; however, she feels like she’s plagued with the unknown future, and she worries she won’t see her kids like she does now.

She’s not afraid of change, she’s just apprehensive of losing what she has presently. She had lived with my father for 45 years, and now, she has to accept he’s no longer alive. I can only imagine what that would be like, but I know I would never fall into the fear as she has. Change occurs, and I was the one who adapted quickly to my father dying out of the family. I was close with him, yes, but I felt it was what he wanted for me; to move on without him, and remain strong.

I know I am not my mother, and she said she does understand where my husband and I are coming from regarding her living on her own, but I would have already been wanting to be living on my own, outside the house my husband and I had for decades upon his death, simply because I am willing to embrace the changes that must occur. I am not one to stand still, I move on whenever a place in time no longer serves me.

Seriously, is it wrong for me to have a life with my husband only? Is it wrong for me to want my sanctuary? Is it wrong to want privacy? My sister and her husband have always had their own home, their own life, and their own family. But I will not have mine at the same cost as she’s had hers; closeness with my mother. I just hope we can find a happy median here, and I pray that I can find a place where my mother can enjoy her retired life. She’s had an idea as to how she wanted this time to go with her daughters, and granddaughter, and that has not been the case. She barely sees her granddaughter, and it hurts her. I see how my sister acts, and it seems there’s something my sister refuses to divulge, and that since she comes to see my mother without Jimmy and I present more often than not, she would stay away if she lives with us.

Is that worth keeping her with us? Not really, when my sister stays away because we’re there for her. It’s strange, but my sister and I get along, and yet, we don’t. We care, but only from afar. We do love each other as sisters, but we’re not best friends. We understand each other, and yet we don’t. My sister is very secretive, whereas I leave my heart on my sleeve for all to see because I’m real. I believe I wouldn’t be taken seriously unless I’m real with everyone. My sister is overly protective of herself, her family, and her home to the point where she doesn’t interact with others often. Her sanctuary is hers, and she chooses who’s allowed into it. Me? Come on over! But you gotta leave when I tell ya!

My sister and I have always been like night and day, and yet we look like our great grandmas on our mom’s side of the family. I just hope and pray that I can find a way to make my mother happy, and help her chose a place right for her, where she can settle and do things her way without my impeding in her living space; hence the butting heads. I must convince her that she is still strong, and independent. She finally got her car back form my sister, and was cleared to drive again after her knee surgery, so I need to help her see what she has, and how good it will be to have total self-control of her environment. She is handy, independent, takes proper care of herself completely, and has a couple cats that love her very much. She’s not necessarily alone, just afraid, and I hate for her to remain fearful, and weak when she could have what she always wanted; the control of the remote control!

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