(Long background and context, but the upshot is my mother is a very sad, needy lady who doesn't realize she's pressuring me to parent her the way she needed to be and wasn't.)
Just feeling the whole sandwich generation thing here lately. I'm a SAHM to my adult out-of-state children (though one is home for the summer), dog, sometimes feel like I'm mothering my husband, and lately more and more my 81 year old mother. I'm an only child, and she's always tended towards social isolation, preferring my help and interaction rather than other methods for addressing things. We usually work that out, plus I've found a positive way to encourage her time with other people, her neighbors for example, that she's really been able to enjoy. Her default, though, has been to be "nervous" and "worried" (her words) about almost any given situation in her life. Definitely a glass-half-empty-and-what-if-it-breaks-help-me sort of person.
Well, since the beginning of this month, I've been out of state and then handling a bad infection DS2 had (he's the one home, thankfully) and being part of the sounding-board / cheerleading team for DS1 as he took a multi-day bike trek down to his summer job. All of which meant I was less available to my mother than she would have liked. Over the last week or so her phone calls to me for one reason or another had increased, and I've been so straight out with waking up nights and meds and long-distance check-ins and DH's long hours that I was only available for brief conversations. On an academic level she understood, but on an unconscious emotional level I think she's started to feel abandoned, begun feeling physically unwell, gotten stressed about that, realized it and dwelled on the most serious possibilities out there, and now over this weekend her blood pressure's gone up, at one point to over 170 systolic.
So tomorrow morning I'm following DH to our mechanic's to drop off one of our vehicles, taking him by work, running home, getting a still-weak DS2 started with food and meds, and probably taking my mother in to the urgent care clinic. I'm so sorry for her because I see her thinking and behaving in ways that bring her pain and harm, and I'm so completely furious because she's getting positive feedback about being sick in getting my time and attention.
No, I don't think it's conscious. Yes, I do think it's deliberate.
Tomorrow morning I'll work out, enjoy the start of the day with my guys, and then do whatever I can to alleviate the misery my mother seems to need to get what she wants from her life, or at the very least seems to aggravate for herself.
Those of you who are also parenting your parents, I'm wishing you humor, strength, and peace.