Café Crem

Art, Music and Words around The Coffee Table

Learning to Love an Aging Mother

That title sounds horrible but is horribly true for many people. My mother and I have had a conficted relationship for all my life. It wasn’t her fault. For various mental health reasons, and marital issues of her own, she could not be there for me emotionally. I certainly have learned to understand her given my profession. But to open my own heart to her has been a very different matter. You see, my father died 25 years ago and from then on she expected the children she never nurtured to nurture her…Especially me, the oldest. I resented this.

To make a very long story short, I recently had an epiphany about my own self which has helped immensely. I was judging my own mothering of my own children, when they were children, very harshly, and just could not get over it. There were poor judgements I had made which were eating me up inside. Then it occured to me…..would I make the same mistakes now as I did then? Absolutely not. I am in no way the same woman I was 30 years ago. I can have compassion for that young woman who didn’t know which way was up! I can have compassion for her because now I DO know and have evolved into a human being I respect and admire. (And BOY has it been work! Whew!!!!)

The next epiphany that came was that the old woman my mother is now is also no longer the emotionally unavailble woman who raised me. She is kind and compassionate and there for me whenever I need her. She tries. Which is of course all anyone can do. She is also becoming more fragile as every year passes. And now I am able to nurture her as she needs and deserves With no resentment but with love.



January 15, 2008 - Posted by | family, life, love, Parents and Children, personal, random, women | , ,


  1. […] different blog today Today’s post, Learning to Love an Aging Mother, can be found at  Thanks for […]

    Pingback by Psychscribe post on different blog today « DEFINING MOMENTS by Psychscribe | January 15, 2008

  2. For the last three years of her life, my mother, who had advanced multiple sclerosis, was in a care home. My husband and I were the only ones who were in town, so we were the ones who visited her, took her places, took care of her finances, and made sure she was well cared for and had everything she needed. It was a difficult, emotionally draining time, and I would not trade those three years for anything.

    Comment by bethduncan | January 15, 2008

  3. I think society in general expects us to love our ageing parents unconditionally, and life just isn’t that clear-cut. i have problems with my Dad, but they are diminishing, chiefly because I view them through the lens of my own parenting. Of course, i should say, that if I could have had my Mother around for the twenty or so years that were ripped from her, I would say yes in an instant, even if she had become a moaning old harridan! -So I try to judge my father more kindly than I used to. I shall post in detail about our relationship before the end of topic.

    Comment by kevmoore | January 15, 2008

  4. This whole story resonates in my own life. Thank you for sharing. Food for thought.

    Comment by amberfireinus | January 15, 2008

  5. Well amberfireinus, as usual our stories resonate for each other!
    Kevin, when you say you can now view your father through the eyes of your own parenting, that’s my point exactly. Easier to think kindly of them and let go of our childhood hurts.
    bethduncan, how very glad i am that you were able to find something good in those years caring for your mother.

    Comment by psychscribe | January 16, 2008

  6. Thank you for this thoughtful blog. I too, am a mother who has found mercy for myself–and for my mother.

    A few years ago, I brought my adoptive, aging (89) mother into my home–to live with me, two of my three daughters (one away in college).

    In doing so, I began to write every day and observe not only the physical changes as my mother suffered with Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s, but also our spiritual, emotional, and intellectual changes.

    At first, I hoped I could “fix” us, but then I grew to accept us. And in doing so, I grew a woman, a daughter and a mother.

    In the words of Maya Angelou, ‘If I’d a known better, I’d a done better.”

    ~Carol D. O’Dell
    Author of Mothering-Mother: A Daughter’s Humorous and Heartbreaking Memoir,

    available on Amazon and in most bookstores

    Comment by caroldodell | January 16, 2008

  7. Hello Carol,

    Thank you very much for having stopped by our Cafe Crem and taking the time to leave a comment.
    I like very much the idea of your book, and well, I admire the fact that you could turn the painful situation in something creative and positive, at least for your readers, and partly for you too of course. I guess it is a very interesting book. The title itself already catches the attention…
    I have read about you in your blog, and I want to wish you good luck for all your other books. WHITE IRIS sounds very promising… very teasing indeed!

    Comment by Miki | January 17, 2008

  8. Psychscribe…
    It is such a touching and honest entry… I had so much to say, I really don´t know where I should begin… too many contradictory emotions and resolutions concerning the aging of my own parents, and my own behaviour…
    My mother, who had to care for her mother-in-law since the very first day she married my father -and it was a long time as my mother married with 20 and my grand-mother died with 100!!!- always swore that she would never accept to be cared by one of her children when she would be old and no more able to care for herself. She had suffered too much under my grand-mother -she was not the kindest person…-, who really spoiled her life! I suffered always about this statement from my mother, because I love her so much and would care for her, but I thought, she would change her mind when the time would come. But until today -she is 82- she hasn´t changed at all, on the contrary. Louder than ever she is claiming that she will go to a home for older people when necessary. It is such an awful dilemma for me! Of course it is her choice, but it makes me totally sick to imagine my so beloved mother among all the other old people, waiting for their death in such homes (I have witnessed that with my other grand-mother… awful!)…
    Concerning learning loving aging parents… I understand exactly what you say, Psychscribe, I have the same with my father… it is so hart for me to open my heart to him now, although today I understand everything which hurt me so much in the past… rationally I can forgive him everything but emotionally… I doubt, if I want to be honest, that I will ever be able too… more than anything I emotionally can´t forgive him the pain he did to people I love, as my mother and my brother… perhaps because he has (still) not turned to a compassionate person like your mother… I´ll make an entry soon about my father, although I am hesitating, all the time, not being sure to be able to control my negative emotions…

    Comment by Miki | January 17, 2008

  9. It’s certainly nice to know I wasn’t the only one. Wish I had found this sooner. Caring for an aging parent is difficult at best but when they were not able to parent you when you were young and needed parenting it is even more challenging.

    I started parenting my mother when whe was 29 and I was 4. Growing up I was incredibly resentful of the things I had to do that none of my friends had to face. I romantized my mother and I made excuses for her behavior. I blamed her illness on her inability to care for my brother and me. Turns out she just wasn’t a great mother. I didn’t learn this until just a few months ago. I have cared for her for the last 35+ years. I didn’t always like in fact hated it a good deal of the time but I wouldn’t trade it either. There were a few moments that were absolutley prescious in all those years.

    As for having my children take me in when I am old…no way. I am happy to go to an assisted living facility, hopefully that is where I could live out my life rather than a nursing home. If I need to be in a nursing home then I definately don’t want my children taking care of me.

    Comment by Jennifer | January 25, 2008

  10. Thank you for sharing the pain and difficulties to care for an aging mother.

    It seems the responsibility to care for aging parents falls mostly on daughters. I have three brothers, but being the only girl in the family, I have been trained to be the caregiver, the responsible one. However, I don’t remember feeling loved or special as far back as 4 years old. I missed being nurtured, but God knows, I overwork myself hoping to gain some recognition. Now my mother is 79 and had a stroke last summer, here I am, the caregiver. I feel guilty to be angry or resentful. My life has turned out many times better than hers. I feel guilty for not having enough compassion for her at this late age.

    I hope I can find peace and the strength to go on reaching out to her. It is difficult!!

    Comment by Karen | April 16, 2009

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