New rule. I will not visit with my mother if she doesn’t eat without fussing.
Today, I get there around 12:30, her lunch was there. She was laying back in bed. Not eating. She’d finished off her health shake, she’d eaten half of her ice cream. But she hadn’t touched her entree, some sort of tuna/spinach thing.
She also thought she was going home. I told her she can’t go home until she eats. She started to eat. She played with her food, but she started to eat. Then she started looking around, saying “this is mine, that is mine, I can’t forget that”. I told her she wasn’t going home today. She said “I’m not?” I said “no, you’re not”. “Even if I clean my plate?” No, not even if you clean your plate, you have to eat more than just this one meal.
She pushes the table away from her, says “then I’m done”, gets a Kleenex and brings it up to her mouth. She’s going to spit out the bite of food she’s got in her mouth. I saw red. Before she could get rid of the biteful, I had my hand on her chin and I told her “you swallow that food, you are NOT going to spit it out”. Surprised the hell out of her. Hey, it surprised the hell out of me! She started chewing and swallowed. She was not a happy camper. Still there, I told her to quit acting like a child, she wasn’t three years old anymore, she is an adult.
She said some crap, took a shot at my weight. I looked her in the eye and reminded her that I wasn’t the one who was in a health care center unable to take care of myself, I wasn’t the one in a bed all day long, I wasn’t the one who was sleeping away from my home every day. I wasn’t the one who was sick, I was the healthy one.
I sat back down. I’d printed up a couple of letter sized posters this morning and hung them up when I got there. One said “You need to eat to get well” and the other one said “The sooner you eat without being nagged, the sooner you can go home”. I pointed to the latter.
And I told her “if you want to go home, you need to eat. You need to eat everything you’re given without fighting them on it. The only person you’re hurting when you don’t eat is yourself”. Brian had said this same thing to her yesterday when we visited. I told her today that when she goes home, I’m not going to go over there and watch her eat. She’s going to have to feed herself. And even if she gets Meals on Wheels, even though they bring the food, she’ll still have to be the one who sits there and eats it.
When I got home from my visit, I talked to one of my best friends, who I’ve been speaking with a couple of times a day since this started. She’s been a huge help (thanks, Tikky!) and wonderful support. She feels that maybe mom is using the food as a way to get me to stick around. She suggested calling before I go over to see what kind of job mom has done with her meals. If it’s good, I visit. If not, I don’t. When Brian got home, I mentioned this to him and he had one even better. A tease, if you will.
I go to visit her, check before I go into her room about her eating, if it’s good, I go in, sit down and visit. If it’s bad, I go in, tell her I’m there, but since she didn’t eat well, I’m leaving. And leave. I’ll start this tomorrow.
I made up another little poster this evening. Which I’ll hang up tomorrow.
It is not my job to make sure you eat.
I will come here each day and ask
if you’ve eaten
If you have, I will stay. If you didn’t eat
I will not visit, I will go home.
This is not a threat, it’s a promise.
And I’ll hang this up by her bed.
She has to eat by herself. If she doesn’t, she’ll starve to death or be “put in a home”, something she’s always begged me not to do to her. She can’t live with me. She’s way too manipulative of me and I’m not going to ruin my health taking care of her.
Honestly, I think if this all was because of some health thing beyond her control, I’d be more sympathetic. But she brought it on herself. She knows this on some level and I know she’s trying to not do the things that she knows aggravate me. But then that demon woman comes out, the one who won’t eat. The one who thinks she’s hurting me by making shots about my weight. That demon woman who makes me want to run, not walk, to the nearest exit and get as far away from her evil mouth as possible.
I want my life back.