• author
    • Jesse Loren

      Columnist
    • January 12, 2013 in Columnists

    Not everyone gets to be there for their parents

    There are first world problems and third world problems. Third world problems are the kind that have to do with Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs – the basic needs for survival. First world problems often have to do with convenience. It is both convenient and inconvenient to welcome a parent into your home.

    First of all, if the parent is far away and there are financial or health problems, the adult children worry and often have to make triage type decisions to address problems. Triaging conflict can mean disruption of work, home life, emotional securing and uncertainty. Over time, triage brings havoc into family life. There is a point when moving the parent is the solution to the ongoing, unsustainable triage efforts.

    Secondly, it is also a decision based on need and resources. Some parents have such enormous health needs that require placement in a facility. I have not had to make that decision. I imagine it is a hard and requires researching facilities and spending large sums of money. If the need is great, the resources will be great too.  In mom’s situation it made sense to move her here where several family members reside (my house). She can keep her dogs. She can see some of her grandkids and soon, one of her great-grandkids. Although I am home with my own health needs, I can manage her meds and get her to her appointments.

    Not everyone gets to be there for their parents. Many people do not have the room or resource to bring mom or dad into the home. Guilt and inadequacy can build up for not being able to do enough. Resentment and tension can build for doing too much. Being there for the parent is hard. However hard it is, it is also rewarding.

    I am emotionally close to mom. Understanding her hopes, fears and joy also helps me understand myself. It makes me grow as a person. I have to be patient. I have to try and see her world according to her instead of the world according to me. I can also appreciate the arc of adulthood. I was in her house, I left her house to become myself, she is in my house.  There are a lot of rough edges and messes in the trajectory of the arc.

    Sometimes the world is as thick as the grease on the feet of the rats that dine on the underbelly of Las Vegas. Other times, it is just hilarious, ribald fun.  Sometimes the world  shatters into myriad shards and the shards fall around me. Sometimes her world is a world of mirrors in a carnival car called Dementia.

    It’s hard

    It’s deep

    It’s spiritual.

    It’s profane.

    I love my mother and my family and I am grateful that mom is still around, even with all her character.



    • Jesse, I am so happy you can desire to have your Mom live with you. I am in the opposite school. My Mom also suffers but thankfully she is in a financial position to live in her own place with caregivers. In my mind no house is big enough for two families. I know for financial reasons many people are forced into another living arrangement and it works for them or it has to work for them. I would have sold my soul to have my Mom live somewhere safe but not with me. We love each other but in a very hard way. I married at 19 to leave home legitimately and who does that but one who wants independence. And who is encouraged to do that? I was. I love my parents and they provided wonderfully for me but living with them not an option. I would have never had a life. I once went to a therapist and told him my lifelong dream was to be an adult and have a civil conversation with my parents without judgement. Not ever to be. My Mom is not almost 86 and still makes it very tough to be with her and she is totally disabled and still tough. I am so happy to see families work out these change of life situations and you are truly lucky you can do it.



      • Madgew, I thoroughly understand. I left the house at 17, 2 days after graduation. I moved 100 miles away and due t UHaul hooking up my trailer wrong, lost everything. I still didn't go home. I'd have to say that I sometimes refer to my household as being 'raised by wolves'. There was food, there was love, but there were also damaging forces. My mom is not easy, not at all, but I love her and I am doing the best I can. Jesse


      • Maya North

      • January 13, 2013 at 1:59 am
      • Reply

      I was not allowed to be there for my brother when AIDS took him, nor was I allowed to be there for my mother. That I was not wanted was made emphatically clear. It was and is ironic that I am the only person in the family with medical knowledge or skills. Nor have they seen me in such a situation–I am actually very good at it. I kept my husband alive after a quadruple bypass had horrific complications. We weren't actually married at the time; it was right after that that he proposed! So as difficult as it can be–and with my father, it would be–I can only be glad for you to have this opportunity. Despite the toxicity of our past, I love my father infinitely. That he cannot entirely love me except at a distance is hard, but a recent trip home proved it. Gads, families are difficult. Hugs…



      • I want to see care giving as a blessing, and I am good at it, but it is also overwhelming. I am doing my best, but mom is difficult. Anyway, it seems like our households are often not set up for extended family, and maybe we should look at houses differently. IDK, just a thought.



    • Maya, my dad had cancer at 53, and died at 54. I was 21-22. I couldn't really take care of him, although I did take care of him on many weekends. I guess I needed to say that sometimes people die due to illness or accident and we don't get time with them.We don't get to be there in the way we want to be there. That's all I really meant with the title. It certainly isn't a judgment. Love to you, Jesse



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