My mom lives in Tallahassee, I live in Lutz and my brother and his wife live in Alabama. We both are about 4 hours away from my mom but I go see her much more than he does. We both drove home with our families for Christmas and arrived avout 3pm. This year it was different. I noticed that she is getting older and she is not taking very good care of her home anymore. My brother doesn’t seem to be concerned but I am. I even feel a bit guilty for not getting up there as often as I should but with my job, the children and my husbands schedule there never seems to be any time or extra cash. My husband loves my mom but doesn’t enjoy our visits and never seems to want to go. Lord knows I hate making that 4 hour drive alone.
When I am there I am comfortable and my children are happy but my husband is not. He complains that she doesn’t have wi- fi and she and the children consume the tv. My mom gets a nice retirement check, she can afford it but she doesnt need it. Between my husband’s laptop and the children’s phone we go over our data every time we visit. I know it’s not about us but I am just trying to give you the whole picture.
I have a four bedroom 3 and 1/2 bath home with two suites. We basically live check to check maintaining everything but, I am more than certain she would be comfortable here. I don’t think she is ready to give up her space in Tally but I also found out, she hardly goes to church anymore. I believe it’s time to make a move. What do you suggest I do? Distant Daughter
Dear Distant Daughter,
The quality of your parents life is a reflection on you. It’s not time to make a move but it is time to have a conversation. If you respect her wishes she will trust you with her life. First, you should suggest she come visit you more. Allow your mom to get use to coming to your home before it’s actually necessary. Allow her to get acquainted with things near your house, while she is still driving and doing her own thing. If she becomes familiar with your surroundings and you all are patient, she will begin to feel like it’s her second home. Allow her to sleep in the same room every time she visits and tell her this is her room. Put her pictures and some of her things in the room.
Often times our parents begin to deteriorate when they feel neglected, especially when they have birthdays but no children come. Then, Mother’s Day comes but no children show up. You send a card or flowers and think that should suffice. Easter comes and she is still alone. Can you imaging how embarrassing it is when their children never show up to church with them. 4th of July comes, we run off to the Essence Festival, but she is not invited. Thanksgiving comes and if she doesn’t feel like cooking, What do you do? Christmas comes and she stops putting up decorations because it’s no fun doing it all alone or cleaning it up. This is often the case for most parents with out of town adult children. Ironically, we never plan a vacation with them, yet they took us everywhere. I know my momma did. Your letter has convicted me. I am going to call my momma and make some plans now.
Older parents need to feel loved and needed but not over used and abused. Often times they pass up our offers because they don’t believe they are sincere and don’t want to be a burden. I think you should ask her to come for a celebration for the kids and ask her to stay longer. Please show her a good time so she will want to come back. If you wait until something goes wrong and put her in a home they will get her home and her retirement check, If you come together with a plan both of you can have a better quality life. Allow her to make her own decisions while her mind is still good. Her presence with the children and the assistance with the bills where she lives will lift your load and make her feel valued. Since your mom lives in a college town like Tallahassee there is a big demand and can always rent or sell her property, creating generational wealth. If things happen in order, your mother will surely die before you. So do all you can, so you can live with no regrets.