Guilt–it’s more than a four-letter word (since it has 5 letters), but in all seriousness, guilt is one of those things that I experience a lot as both a mother and the only daughter of my parents in their mid-70s. I’m sure many of you experience mommy or daddy-guilt–when your child wants you to do something with him or her, and you have to mow the lawn, pay the bills, or even go to work. It’s a part of life and part of being an adult. But the kind of guilt I’m talking about comes from responsibilities and choices from being a part of the Sandwich Generation.
This summer, my mom had total knee replacement surgery on one knee. She had the other one done 12 years earlier. She is also a heart attack survivor and suffers from rheumatoid arthritis, so we knew this surgery could have its complications. Still, the doctor thought she’d have the surgery on Monday, and go home on Thursday with home physical therapy three times a week.
That’s not exactly what happened.
We were ready for the first three days with a game plan. My dad would be at the hospital during the surgery. I would show up in the afternoon to relieve him for a few hours, and my husband would be home from work this day with both kids. The first day, it went smoothly. When I got to the hospital, she was on morphine and eating a turkey pot pie! The next two days, the plan was for me to come in the morning before my husband went to work at 2:00 pm. My dad would go home in the morning and then relieve me after lunch, so I could go home and take care of my kids. But little did we know that my mom and the pain medicine would not get along so well (which will be a blog post in itself one of these days), and her recovery did not go well. On Wednesday, she couldn’t feed herself or participate in physical therapy, saw the Statue of Liberty in her room, and didn’t know the President of the United States. My husband had to take off work another day–I was away from my children much more than I had planned because my parents needed me at the hospital. . .
So then a huge decision came up. That weekend, we were supposed to meet my brother-in-law and his family in Indianapolis. I was very excited to see my nephews and have some fun! But my mom was still not out of the hospital, and there was talk of her going to a rehab center. A voice inside of me, one I was trying to ignore along with the pit growing in my stomach, told me to send the kids and my hubby to Indy on their own, and I should stay home and take care of my mom. I didn’t want to do this. I felt horrible for missing my nephews and the opportunity to go on a vacation with my children and husband. But I felt even worse thinking about having fun and being 4 hours away when my parents needed me, too.
I made a hard choice. I missed the trip to Indy. I listened to my inner voice, and everything worked out fine. My hubby and kids had a good time. My mom made it to the rehab center, and I helped my dad by being able to sit with my mom for hours while he went home and took care of things.
Next week, I’ll share with you some questions I asked myself in order to come to that decision and some tips for dealing with the guilt.
Have you ever made a choice like this in your family?