Why I’ve Become My Mother’s Mother

Mama and Me

Mama and Me in the 1980s

I’m not a mother. But my job description as caregiver would read much the same. Essentially, I’ve had to become my mother’s mother. It’s the hardest job I’ve ever had, and not one I thought I’d be taking on so soon. I always knew I’d take care of my mother when she got old (seriously, I wrote a book about it as a kid). However, she’s not old yet; she’s been fighting an extremely rare brain cancer for nearly four years.

My mother has been my best friend for as long as I can remember — a strong by-product of our ‘single mother-only child’ status. We are a lot more alike than either of us would ever like to admit; we’re the cliche ‘Sometimes I open my mouth and my mother comes out’ (the Internet meme without apparent attribution). That’s us perfectly. It’s nearly always been just the two of us (technically three now, including our little rescue dog), and it was natural for me to become her instant caregiver in my late 20s.

Now that my mother’s cancer treatments are over, you might wonder what our lives look like (aside from regular MRI brain scans). My mother’s brain cancer and subsequent minor stroke have left her with permanent brain damage, manifesting as cognitive, short-term memory, balance, and coordination issues. She’s far from being a vegetable, as she’ll be the first to tell you, but it’s no longer safe for her to live alone. She can no longer drive, suffers from fatigue, and needs assistance with daily living (the details of which are private, thank you very much).

There are good days and bad, but I can’t remember a single one where we didn’t laugh together. Now she sometimes forgets that I wasn’t around when she was a child. Sometimes she forgets and calls me Mom. Nowadays, she forgets a lot of things. That happens when your brain is busy fighting brain cancer. (And FYI, it doesn’t make her feel any better when others tell her they’re having the same memory problems from aging. They’re not the same — not one bit, folks.)

A more recent photo of Mama and me

A more recent photo of Mama and Me

We have a lot of the same conversations over again. And over again. Mostly I manage to keep annoyance at repetition out of my voice, internally beating myself up when the look in her face says I haven’t succeeded. We still squabble like mother and daughter; after all, living together isn’t easy (especially when we had each cherished the independence of living alone). But I wouldn’t have it any other way.

Clearly full-time caregiving is a deeply personal choice, but I know that I am better able to care for my mother than anyone I could hire (introducing part-time caregivers has been challenging, and neither she nor I would want her to live in a home). I don’t really consider any other option as viable for our family at this time.

I admit, it can feel strange and lonely when all of my friends and peers seem to be hitting the milestones of marriage and babies — not to mention career promotions, professional success and financial stability. Though I long for those experiences, I know, deep in my soul, that I am doing what is right for our family now. In 25 years, I don’t want to look back and wish I’d spent more time with my mother and best friend while I had the chance. There is no job I’d rather be doing than caring for her.

I also know one day I’ll miss those repeat conversations with my mother. No matter how long she continues to beat the odds and surprise doctors, I know I’ll still want more time together, more laughs, and even more bickering. I’ll miss staying up late talking and watching our favorite shows, or sharing interesting things we find online, and laughing until it hurts and we’re both crying. And so I try to cherish every moment that we have together. Though we aren’t sharing the life experiences we’d hoped for now, I’m deeply grateful to have this time together as adults. As she was both a mother and father to me, I hope I can be as loving a caregiver to her. The circle of life.

I love you, Mama.

546 thoughts on “Why I’ve Become My Mother’s Mother

  1. Gabriana….Your use of words is fantastic…..Yes, your Mom is great…..and very lucky to have you, as you are lucky to have her…..I, in 6th grade, felt silently excited, being placed in the seat next to her on the seating chart! Wow……..Lucky me!! 🙂 Give her a kiss from me…….
    Doug

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  369. Pingback: Funny take on Shakespeare | Nosy Parker Blog

  370. Pingback: Shocking summer nails | Nosy Parker Blog

  371. Pingback: Crafter’s paradise | Nosy Parker Blog

  372. Pingback: 7 year miracle | Nosy Parker Blog

  373. Pingback: Summer dancing is back! | Nosy Parker Blog

  374. Pingback: Drive-through voting | Nosy Parker Blog

  375. Pingback: Homegrown celery plant | Nosy Parker Blog

  376. Pingback: The best onion rings | Nosy Parker Blog

  377. Pingback: Insistent companion | Nosy Parker Blog

  378. Pingback: Great conversations | Nosy Parker Blog

  379. Pingback: Wine across the fence | Nosy Parker Blog

  380. Pingback: Thesaurus Club | Nosy Parker Blog

  381. Pingback: Pulling carrots | Nosy Parker Blog

  382. Pingback: Rewatching a favorite | Nosy Parker Blog

  383. Pingback: Candy-like cantaloupe | Nosy Parker Blog

  384. Pingback: Brilliant, heartwarming video | Nosy Parker Blog

  385. Pingback: Wealth of summer fruit | Nosy Parker Blog

  386. Pingback: Much needed cool down | Nosy Parker Blog

  387. Pingback: Double vision | Nosy Parker Blog

  388. Pingback: Angels in our adventures | Nosy Parker Blog

  389. Pingback: Nighttime watering | Nosy Parker Blog

  390. Pingback: Dancing around the house | Nosy Parker Blog

  391. Pingback: The bloom that brought Mama to tears | Nosy Parker Blog

  392. Pingback: Colorful, smashed potatoes | Nosy Parker Blog

  393. Pingback: Elderflower peach shortcake | Nosy Parker Blog

  394. Pingback: Garden full of flowers | Nosy Parker Blog

  395. Pingback: Poached peaches and candied lemon peel | Nosy Parker Blog

  396. Pingback: Spread love, denounce hate | Nosy Parker Blog

  397. Pingback: Freeing the wild bird | Nosy Parker Blog

  398. Pingback: Starting someone else’s vacation | Nosy Parker Blog

  399. Pingback: New friends at the theater | Nosy Parker Blog

  400. Pingback: Baking in honor of Bobbie | Nosy Parker Blog

  401. Pingback: Peaches ripening on our tree | Nosy Parker Blog

  402. Pingback: Surprise visitor | Nosy Parker Blog

  403. Pingback: Going crazy with chalk pens | Nosy Parker Blog

  404. Pingback: Harvesting our breakfast | Nosy Parker Blog

  405. Pingback: Quirky highlight on my errands | Nosy Parker Blog

  406. Pingback: Mama’s new ears | Nosy Parker Blog

  407. Pingback: Celebrating with loved ones | Nosy Parker Blog

  408. Pingback: Exhausted, but still glowing | Nosy Parker Blog

  409. Pingback: Tasty leftovers all day | Nosy Parker Blog

  410. Pingback: Funkywunks tearing it up | Nosy Parker Blog

  411. Pingback: Bright spots on infusion day | Nosy Parker Blog

  412. Pingback: Ready for the sequel | Nosy Parker Blog

  413. Pingback: Soothing, cold air | Nosy Parker Blog

  414. Pingback: Sweet pictures from Mama | Nosy Parker Blog

  415. Pingback: It’s Crepe Myrtle Time! | Nosy Parker Blog

  416. Pingback: FroYo improves the wait | Nosy Parker Blog

  417. Pingback: A gourmet day | Nosy Parker Blog

  418. Pingback: A perfect routine | Nosy Parker Blog

  419. Pingback: Rewatching a movie to see Venice | Nosy Parker Blog

  420. Pingback: Rewatching a movie to see Venice | Nosy Parker Blog

  421. Pingback: That Friday feeling… | Nosy Parker Blog

  422. Pingback: Gorging on sweet green pluots | Nosy Parker Blog

  423. Pingback: Smoked Salmon Havarti Toast | Nosy Parker Blog

  424. Pingback: Tomato taste-off | Nosy Parker Blog

  425. Pingback: Mama’s new wheels | Nosy Parker Blog

  426. Pingback: The garden’s glorious mornings | Nosy Parker Blog

  427. Pingback: A Burrata picnic | Nosy Parker Blog

  428. Pingback: Firecracker flowers from seeds | Nosy Parker Blog

  429. Pingback: Hot, crispy bananas | Nosy Parker Blog

  430. Pingback: Our shared fortune | Nosy Parker Blog

  431. Pingback: Great new chiropractor | Nosy Parker Blog

  432. Pingback: Farmers market bounty | Nosy Parker Blog

  433. Pingback: Made with love | Nosy Parker Blog

  434. Pingback: Homegrown watermelon with a surprise | Nosy Parker Blog

  435. Pingback: Great door trade | Nosy Parker Blog

  436. Pingback: Another cook in the kitchen | Nosy Parker Blog

  437. Pingback: Smart girl gifting | Nosy Parker Blog

  438. Pingback: Plates from a party missed | Nosy Parker Blog

  439. Pingback: Season 7 now streaming | Nosy Parker Blog

  440. Pingback: Extra minty ice cream | Nosy Parker Blog

  441. Pingback: Spot-on fortunes | Nosy Parker Blog

  442. Pingback: Paisley’s pint-sized friend | Nosy Parker Blog

  443. Pingback: Last of the crepe myrtle | Nosy Parker Blog

  444. Pingback: We’re going back! | Nosy Parker Blog

  445. Pingback: We’re going back! | Nosy Parker Blog

  446. Pingback: Celebrating makers | Nosy Parker Blog

  447. Pingback: Water door excitement | Nosy Parker Blog

  448. Pingback: Baked potato bits | Nosy Parker Blog

  449. Pingback: Shana Tova | Nosy Parker Blog

  450. Pingback: First homegrown cantaloupe | Nosy Parker Blog

  451. Pingback: Arriving safely | Nosy Parker Blog

  452. Pingback: Quick reunion plus tiramisu | Nosy Parker Blog

  453. Pingback: First gelato of the trip | Nosy Parker Blog

  454. Pingback: Canal view with a fan | Nosy Parker Blog

  455. Pingback: A very Italian evening | Nosy Parker Blog

  456. Pingback: Water bus passes and new friends | Nosy Parker Blog

  457. Pingback: Italian take-away | Nosy Parker Blog

  458. Pingback: Accessibility maps & the best peppermint gelato ever | Nosy Parker Blog

  459. Pingback: Shopping like a local | Nosy Parker Blog

  460. Pingback: Lunch with Shaul | Nosy Parker Blog

  461. Pingback: Roof terrace bar with friends | Nosy Parker Blog

  462. Pingback: Dolce far niente | Nosy Parker Blog

  463. Pingback: Pumpkin ravioli with Moscato D’Asti | Nosy Parker Blog

  464. Pingback: Finding ourselves in San Marco at sunset | Nosy Parker Blog

  465. Pingback: Traveling help | Nosy Parker Blog

  466. Pingback: Fresh groceries delivered | Nosy Parker Blog

  467. Pingback: Starting to catch up | Nosy Parker Blog

  468. Pingback: The fun part of unpacking | Nosy Parker Blog

  469. Pingback: Return of postal service | Nosy Parker Blog

  470. Pingback: Smooth infusion day | Nosy Parker Blog

  471. Pingback: Blue skies and blooming garden | Nosy Parker Blog

  472. Pingback: A fun dream | Nosy Parker Blog

  473. Pingback: Making a dent | Nosy Parker Blog

  474. Pingback: Sweet, concerned face | Nosy Parker Blog

  475. Pingback: A lovely way to vote | Nosy Parker Blog

  476. Pingback: Back into our Friday routine | Nosy Parker Blog

  477. Pingback: Important, timely film | Nosy Parker Blog

  478. Pingback: Afternoon walk in our neighborhood | Nosy Parker Blog

  479. Pingback: Pear cake experiment | Nosy Parker Blog

  480. Pingback: The pissant piece | Nosy Parker Blog

  481. Pingback: Halloween visitors | Nosy Parker Blog

  482. Pingback: Crunchy Autumn leaves | Nosy Parker Blog

  483. Pingback: Pulling apart the challah | Nosy Parker Blog

  484. Pingback: Mail from our besties | Nosy Parker Blog

  485. Pingback: Willing ourselves to walk | Nosy Parker Blog

  486. Pingback: Roasted sweet trio | Nosy Parker Blog

  487. Pingback: Wave of women | Nosy Parker Blog

  488. Pingback: Homemade granola debut | Nosy Parker Blog

  489. Pingback: Patchwork of leftovers | Nosy Parker Blog

  490. Pingback: Stir-crazy self care | Nosy Parker Blog

  491. Pingback: Wait-free flu shots | Nosy Parker Blog

  492. Pingback: The last Essi | Nosy Parker Blog

  493. Pingback: Rearranging my bedroom | Nosy Parker Blog

  494. Pingback: Head in her bowl | Nosy Parker Blog

  495. Pingback: Same-day crown | Nosy Parker Blog

  496. Pingback: Smell of pie baking | Nosy Parker Blog

  497. Pingback: Waking up warm | Nosy Parker Blog

  498. Pingback: Mountain of mail | Nosy Parker Blog

  499. Pingback: Free to go for walks again | Nosy Parker Blog

  500. Pingback: Holiday ready from head to tummy | Nosy Parker Blog

  501. Pingback: Holiday in pajamas | Nosy Parker Blog

  502. Pingback: Hug a caregiver | Nosy Parker Blog

  503. Pingback: Saturday evening surprise | Nosy Parker Blog

  504. Pingback: A marathon with Margo | Nosy Parker Blog

  505. Pingback: Fast, yummy cookies | Nosy Parker Blog

  506. Pingback: Macaron improvements | Nosy Parker Blog

  507. Pingback: Listening to Michelle | Nosy Parker Blog

  508. Pingback: Decorating just in time | Nosy Parker Blog

  509. Pingback: Cooking class with Gail | Nosy Parker Blog

  510. Pingback: Wreath from Chessy | Nosy Parker Blog

  511. Pingback: Lighting Chanukah candles with friends | Nosy Parker Blog

  512. Pingback: Adjusting my crown | Nosy Parker Blog

  513. Pingback: The day we struck gold | Nosy Parker Blog

  514. Pingback: Happy festival of lights! | Nosy Parker Blog

  515. Pingback: Hilarious animal videos | Nosy Parker Blog

  516. Pingback: Friendly faces on our errands | Nosy Parker Blog

  517. Pingback: Back to the bead shop | Nosy Parker Blog

  518. Pingback: A peacock treasure for Mama | Nosy Parker Blog

  519. Pingback: Free bagels & bargain hunting | Nosy Parker Blog

  520. Pingback: Chicken waffle sandwiches & beignets | Nosy Parker Blog

  521. Pingback: Wine & chocolate-fueled soak in the bathtub | Nosy Parker Blog

  522. Pingback: Beautiful ombre sunset | Nosy Parker Blog

  523. Pingback: Paisley’s new pjs | Nosy Parker Blog

  524. Pingback: Clearly Canadian is back! | Nosy Parker Blog

  525. Pingback: Holiday pampering treat | Nosy Parker Blog

  526. Pingback: Be still my heart | Nosy Parker Blog

  527. Pingback: Be still my heart | Nosy Parker Blog

  528. Pingback: Homemade winter soup | Nosy Parker Blog

  529. Pingback: Slippers with arch support? | Nosy Parker Blog

  530. Pingback: A free iPhone! | Nosy Parker Blog

  531. Pingback: Following our own traditions | Nosy Parker Blog

  532. Pingback: Victorian CSI is back! | Nosy Parker Blog

  533. Pingback: Fragrant winter blooms | Nosy Parker Blog

  534. Pingback: A beautiful grip | Nosy Parker Blog

  535. Pingback: Amaryllis progress | Nosy Parker Blog

  536. Pingback: Here we go again | Nosy Parker Blog

  537. Pingback: Warmth against my back | Nosy Parker Blog

  538. Pingback: New year, new brows | Nosy Parker Blog

  539. Pingback: Surviving the first Monday of 2019 | Nosy Parker Blog

  540. Pingback: Postponed Chanukah | Nosy Parker Blog

  541. Pingback: Gorgeous alien produce | Nosy Parker Blog

  542. Pingback: Peppermint fudge cupcakes | Nosy Parker Blog

  543. Pingback: Caring about caregivers | Nosy Parker Blog

  544. Pingback: Kissing on the first date | Nosy Parker Blog

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