I am realizing that my mother is changing. Although she is very sharp for her 88 years, and living independently her world revolves around watching TV, following political news, scrutinizing her environment for any number of unsatisfactory, critical things, and generally showing sides that are both loving and mean spirited.
She refuses to wear her hearing aids, claims she can hear fine, and frequently hears versions of conversation that are very inaccurate and help to create conflict between what was said and what she thinks she heard. Because I spend a lot of time with her and helping our family to support her to live independently in her own home, I am realizing her critical nature is really increasing and often I walk around on egg shells. I hear her when she says I don't show enough empathy for whatever the reason - I do get it wrong sometimes but she's tired of working through our differences. It's been this way off and on my whole life and this is the nature of our relationship (and with some of my siblings), so I still don't understand why she wants me around. She keeps reminding me when I haven't lived up to expectations (throughout my life).
Mom is very senior in age, has some controlled health issues and is managing chronic pain. Those are difficult scenarios for anyone to manage, especially so at her age. I honestly think she would be better off with other family members who live nearby and I wouldn't be a source of stress or sadness for her. I could just visit with her when the family is present or help when they are not available. I don't necessarily like that idea because we're all a family and I think we are supposed to support one another and I do love her. Emotionally, it's hard to feel good in general when you know someone is waiting for the next time to remind you of your shortcomings. Maybe this is just another low point, and it will all get better again with time.