As most of the readers who've been reading my post know the mother-in-law has been living with us for the past year and 1/2 (yes folks it has been that long and yes it feels like longer!). It wasn't because I was dying to have my housekeeping, fashion, or parenting criticized by the in-law, it was because she has frontal temporal (NOT temporary as we may have thought) dementia. She had lived with two nieces, and a sister in Ohio for the past 5-6 years. Then it got to where her sister just couldn't do the work any more (it amazingly takes a lot of physical labor to get someone showered and dressed) because of her own back problems (she's better thank God and the chiropractor).
Without going into details, Greg and I knew it would fall on us to care for his mom or put her into a nursing home (and even tho' she couldn't get her hands or speaking to work for her anymore she was adamant that she didn't want to go to a nursing home). So we made the arrangements and moved her in with us January of '09.
It has been an uphill struggle for us, and a downhill journey for GP (Grandma Patty as she is called). It has gone from her being able to feed herself to being fed 90% of the time. She used to be able to shower herself with minimal supervision, to being washed and dried off totally by me. She now puts her shoes on the wrong feet, forgets how to use the bathroom, has a hard time opening her mouth so we can brush her teeth, doesn't swallow @ times without being told, giggles and pokes at the girls like a little kid (trying to get them to interact with her, although they look at her like she's goofy) and shuffles through the house bent over like an 89 year old, even though she is only 63.
So forgive me if I vent a little bit, but it wasn't in my plan for me to have gotten my girls out of diapers, feeding themselves, dressing themselves and doing their own morning and evening rituals, only to have to take GP through it again. It's frustrating, a struggle, and a thankless position to be in. There are days when I don't want to wash and dress her again, days when I can't imagine having to feed her and sit listening to her chew w/ her mouth open. There are days where I would like to just go out and enjoy something fun with the girls and then we realize it would be hard to take GP with us/or she doesn't like to do it and refuses to go (like the beach). Of course sometimes we go and she goes with us, wether she likes it or not (just like the kids). Then a fun time is NOT had by all..... oh well
Every day I get up knowing that it could be an emotionally distraught day (and not necessarily me!). There are tantrums, pouting, crying and refusing to eat (and NOT necessarily my kids!). There are times where I just wish that I could have my own little family back-- a family of hubby, and two little chickies (who very desperately need mommy to be on a more level keel). I want to be able to travel and see friends/family/places. I want to be able to watch t.v. with out having to please everyones tastes (okay, that I can blame on GP and the kiddoes). I want to be able to go to my mom's house and visit for an hour, or more, over a cup of coffee and not have to have GP listening and or refusing to go (because, "no one likes me down there"). I want to be able to take a family vacation and not have to wonder if GP would enjoy herself, be totally lost in a new atmosphere, or try and find a good time for her sister to take her for a week (I do THANK YOU for taking her for a few weeks out of the year Aunt Linda).
You see, I am selfish, I would want someone in my old age and/or infirmity to love and care for me as we do GP. Yet, I find it hard to be happy and giving when it comes to the care and attention I need to give to GP. Most people that find out what our life is like, with the care of GP and raising a family at the same time say wonderful things about us, and what we are doing. If they only new how dried up, crazy and bitter (I won't go into the why's of THAT) I feel most days because of what has been placed in our lives, they probably wouldn't think so much of me.
But it could be worse..... there could be cancer to deal with, or genetic diseases, or any other sort of disease that many friends and relatives have/are dealing with in their family (be it children or spouses).
Besides, there is some comic relief in the mix. Like when GP sleeps on her hair and it's standing straight up on end and we say GP's rockin' out the hair do. When she comes out of her room in the morning with one shoe on and it's on the wrong foot. Like the time that she "cleaned up" the toys in the living room and it was weeks later I found Li's shoe in GP's closet, books in her dresser drawers and little toys in the kitchen cabinets or bookshelves, not to mention the remotes being found in her room under her blankets! When I mentioned that it's like a game of 20 questions and she is the only one who knows the answer, I wasn't kidding (the only difference between then and now is SHE doesn't even know the answers anymore).