Dealing with a lifetime of patterns.

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Maybe this is just a vent. I'm just sort of shaking my head right now.

My Mom and Dad are in their 80s. They have both been declining but doing remarkably well considering their age. They were totally independent, still running their small business (albeit badly)...until my Dad ended up with sepsis and in a rehab.

They are both beyond stubborn and set in their ways. In their own way they have always babied each other. Mom waits on Dad hand and foot in the house and Dad takes care of everything else. Both of them treat the other like they are incapable of doing anything else, especially my Mom. They take the practice of enabling to breathtaking heights. I suppose some people would say they have a dysfunctional relationship, i'm not sure I would call it that. It's worked for them all these years...

So yesterday I was at the rehab with my Dad. I like to go to therapy with him a couple times a week to see his progress and to learn. His team had a meeting in the morning and they were concerned about his progress. Not because he is unable but because he is unwilling to do much of anything for himself. He is used to being waited on and between my Mom, my sister and me there is always someone at the rehab to cater to him. Don't get me wrong, he is not a tyrant, he is very sweet, but he is conditioned to expect a certain kind of pampering. This is a man who would never even pour himself a glass of milk. That was our job (the females in the family). On the other hand he would never allow any of us to get into a car that had not been warmed up.

So my sister and I were there yesterday when the staff talked to him and told him (and us) that he needs to do more if he wants to go home sooner than later. He looked surprised but took it pretty well and I was thrilled. UNTIL I called my Mom and explained to her that we needed to make some changes and let Dad do more for himself. I thought she would be relieved but she lost it. She accused the rehab of being insensitive and that she was not going to have any part of that. Oh brother. Mom is a very assertive person in many ways, what made me think that for all these years she was not doing exactly what she wanted to do?

I think I MIGHT have gotten through to her after I told her that by doing everything for him we are sabotaging his recovery. Maybe... we shall see.

5 Comments

Old Fashioned couples have a strict division of labor. Don't even think about changing that. Arrange for PT to continue at home when he leave the rehab, the MD can order in home care via subservient female aides. LOL my father was exactly the same. He would come to the table and dinner would magically appear exactly on time. You can't teach an old dog new tricks.
Amen to that, pamstegman!
I agree with Pam and Trying. Your mother probably looked at it like someone was trying to upset the apple cart after all the years. If they have been together as long as they have, the arrangement probably worked for them. She was probably offended by someone telling her what she had been doing was wrong. It is what wives did in days gone by. Personally I think their arrangement is sweet, though it does cause problems in certain circumstances -- such as the current one. I'm sure your mom and dad can work something out so he can come home.
Oh, I saw you agreed with Pam, Trying. Then I noticed you're also the OP. Oops! I guess we can just say we all agree with each other.
I know, what was I thinking :)
It is sweet in a way. They are one of those couples who complain about each other constantly but at the same time are fiercely loyal and supportive.
You are right JessieBelle. They will work it out in their own way. I appreciate hearing that.

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