Mom, Caregiver, Partner: A Changing Relationship With My Son
By Dole Caregiver Fellow Rosie Babin
Fourteen years into caregiving for our son, Alan, we still find ourselves forging new relationships with each other.
The first few years were almost “easy” as he was 22 and catastrophically ill; in need of me to be his voice, mother, protector and biggest advocate.
As the decade has passed and he continues to recover and regain his voice (literally and figuratively), it has been imperative that I change in my role and, even how I refer to him: “Buddy” during the day and while we are “working” versus my role as “Mom” in the evening once my Husband, and also a Dole Caregiver Fellow, Alan Sr., returns home from work. It is an interesting dynamic, Alan and I have a working relationship during the day, and a Mother/Son relationship on evenings and weekends.
Until I sat down to ponder the subject for this month on “relationships,” I had not examined how intentionally our roles have changed in order to maintain Alan’s dignity, and our mutually respectful relationship.
Even his Dad has had to make changes in how he interacts with Alan – who is now a 36-year-old man, certainly not in need of his Father teasing him like he did when Alan was younger – and, although because of Alan’s cognitive challenges he can sometimes present as a very naïve teenager, his feelings and dignity require that he be treated as a man.
As the years go, we find ourselves being more “partners” with each other in our home, rather than him, and his Mom and Dad, which has allowed us to successfully navigate the challenges of our new relationship normal.