Motherhood’s role reversal

Role reversal, becoming your Mum's Mum.

What happens when you become your mum’s ‘mum’?

Here’s a twist of fate. The woman who brought me into the world is now thinking about leaving it, and the person who so selflessly expressed her love and care is now the one in need of some herself. Yet I’ve still got my own children needing my attention and running round my feet. Well, not literally – at 10 and 12 years old that would be a bit weird. But they’re still under my feet often enough.

You know, I thought my ‘mother’s care quotient’ had been satisfactorily filled by two growing sons and a loveable dog. Apparently not. Apparently, I need reminding of life’s two extremities at once: my boys on the cusp of discovering the talents with which they can rule the world (not in my mind, you understand, but definitely the case in theirs) on one side, and my mum, slowly slipping into her dotage on the other. For some of us it’s hard even to consider taking on yet more responsibility, let alone the change in role within a relationship from ‘child’ to ‘parent’.

Any change is unsettling. To do things differently for the first time feels strange: holding her arm to steady her across the road, when she’d always held yours. Wiping the tomato pips from her crisp white blouse, when she’d always been the one to do the wiping. Sitting down every couple of hundred yards as you fight your way through the shopping centre. So reminiscent of a toddler … just with greyer hair. Sadly, the grey hairs that should be honoured are increasingly shown contempt. ‘Carer who showed contempt for elderly caught on camera’

Just thinking about my mum has prompted a few thoughts that I’d like to share, and I’d love you to add your own to the list.

  • Love is just love: you don’t have to be a mother to express it, but it is at the core of a mother’s heart.
  • You’re stretched at both ends like a frayed piece of elastic – kids on the one hand, and an ageing ‘child’ on the other.
  • You have the opportunity to reflect on everything she did for you, and can now repay the kindness.
  • Now’s also the chance to fill up her ‘esteem’ account as you realise she did a pretty good job raising you.

Share one thing in the comments box that, having become a mother yourself, you now appreciate even more about your own mum. Or, share a challenge you now face as your role is changing from ‘child’ to parent in a way you never quite expected. I’d love to hear that I’m not the only one!

For more about how the elderly can enrich our lives and those of our children, see ‘Unlock the Cage’.

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