Living

Mondays with Mom: Hours

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The evenings are the hardest. Mom’s tired, even though she may have rested throughout the day. When my children were little, we called the hours between 5 PM – 7PM the “witching hours.” We were all spent from the day, hungry and tired. Mom’s hours are the same. It seems that she is most confused then.

Certainly she is more uncooperative. She doesn’t want to eat. She doesn’t want to move from her chair. She is testy and short with her words. She cannot connect her thoughts as easily and the “fog” as I call it is thick in her mind. She’s not sure who we are or who she is. She’s ready to go home – she’s spent too many hours here already and wants the safety and peace of her home. It’s hard to convince her that she IS home.

The way the caregivers’ schedule is currently set up, Dad has these hours alone with Mom every day. Most days each week, there is someone watching over Mom from 8 PM one evening until 4 PM the next afternoon. Until I spent three days in a row with Mom while Dad went to see my brother, I didn’t know how tough those hours were. My experiences made me want to rearrange the hours for Dad so he’d have time with her at another point in the day.

The question is, how to rearrange it? He needs his early mornings so he can go to the park for his exercise. Then he usually has breakfast or lunch with a friend and then some time for grocery shopping or doctor’s appointments. I haven’t talked to Dad about the rearranging, but I’ve been thinking of it a lot.

I think I would be very frustrated if my main time with Mom was the witching hours. I would be discouraged and more than a bit sad, concerned that she is slipping away from us faster and faster. I know he sees her lots during the day when she is doing pretty well, but the majority of his time is during the foggiest hours. They don’t watch movies together anymore because she can’t keep up with the characters or the action. She’ll read a card they got in the mail over and over but can’t remember it to talk with him about it. She’s also becoming quite hard of hearing so conversation is full of repeats.

He doesn’t complain. Sometimes he expresses a bit of difficulty with Mom’s eating habits, but he never complains about his load. He is bearing up so well under the extreme stress of caring for Mom. I’m not sure I would do as well if I had to care for my husband the same way. Maybe he vents to his friends, but not to me.

I am glad to spend these Mondays with Mom. I’m also here on Tuesday mornings and Thursdays since Mom’s fall in May. I may be too involved with their lives. I know Dad thinks I’m a bit bossy and protective of Mom. I’m feeling ever more protective of him as time goes on. I’m concerned that the hours of difficulty are wearing on him. It’s tricky to navigate helping and intruding. It’s a fine line.

Meanwhile, I try to remember these long hours are only for a season.

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