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My mom has severe arthritis, and doesn't go hardly at all. Both my parents are in their eighties. I feel guilty if I let either one down. Mom tells me to go, as she is crying. Advice?

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I agree that you will likely feel sad, but there's no need for guilt. If you bring back something special for your mom, that may help both of you.
Take care,
Carol
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This is where some advice from my college Chinese roommate might come in handy. They celebrate their birthdays by sending flowers and thank you cards to their moms in recognition of the risks they took to have a baby and the sacrifices they made to raise them. Go on your birthday treat, but acknowledge to your mom that without her you wouldn't be here. They said that they did not personally celebrate their birthdays until after their mothers had passed on because they would be celebrating putting their mother's lives at risk to have them. I can't go that far, but I do try to specially acknowledge my mom on my birthday, seemed like a nice idea...
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Okay, you can feel sad, but no guilty. Guilt is a worthless emotion, unless you are doing something with malice, which does not appear to be the case here. have you looked into technology that will improve mom's mobility? Scooter, etc.? Is your mom depressed? has she been evaluated for that? On meds? Sorry if I ask rapid fire questions, but I've found that with caregiving, even long distance like I'm doing, you get so close to the problem that you can't see the forest for the trees. Post back! Happy Birthday!
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Narnia, your mother is crying because she is sad that she cannot go with you to celebrate your birthday, not because she resents your going out with your father and leaving her behind. She wants you to enjoy yourself, she wants him to enjoy himself - what's sad is that she can't join in.

Having cleared that up, this is what you can do if you choose. The model daughter, Little Ms Perfect as we might call her, would lay a celebratory table, light candles, order in a cake and everyone's favourite dishes, and have the party at her parents' home where they can both enjoy joining in. And don't make it too long drawn-out, or your mother will run out of steam.

But if you would prefer to go out instead, feel free. That is not the part that upsets your mother.
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Here is the deal on caregiver guilt: it is not optional. It is there whether we earn it or not. If you go out with Dad, you'll feel guilty that Mom is at home. If you stay home with Mom, you'll feel guilty of depriving Dad of a tradition he likes. Hasn't he lost enough with his wife chronically ill.

So you can't win. Guilt is there. The best we can do is shove way back into a dark corner of our minds and get on with making the best decision that we can.

And if I were your mom, I'd feel terrible that my adult child was celebrating her birthday without me, and I'd feel terrible if my dear husband missed out on a nice treat because of me. Either way I'd cry. Debilitating diseases are sad. There is no way around that.

So you'll feel a little guilty way in the back of your brain, and Mom will feel sad. Life goes on. Do your best.
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How about a compromise? Celebrate your birthday with both your parents at their home and then have an evening out with someone else another day.
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I agree with other answers. Another thing you might do, is even share the birthday and outing with her by bringing flowers and even a spring or birthday celebration card for her to sign on your your birthday, and tell her how grateful you are to have had two great parents who have supported you so well and brought you up healthy. Leave her the name of the restaurant, and a promise to bring her back an extra piece of cake. And if she cries, which she may well NOT do, if she is affirmed for who she is, and the tone is upbeat, still, hug her with good cheer, say you are glad you and your dad are going to celebrate, and you will also be glad to tell her about it, and celebrate with her again soon, in a way that she can handle! And also from us here: Happy Birthday!
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Don't feel bad, take your Dad to lunch, bring Mom back something she likes and then spend some time with both and discuss some old time memories. You and she will feel better.
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I would hate it if one of my kids felt bad and had to, or chose to, miss celebrating a special day because I was ailing.
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Why not pick up something at the restaurant and bring it home? Or at least bring her back a dessert to enjoy, and then everyone in your party could stay a bit and tell her about your meal if you choose to go eat out.
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