Parenting A Parent

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For the last few months, I have taken a step back from writing. 2020 threw all of the life-changing events our way, right? Last June, my mom suffered a pretty severe stroke. She was in this comatose state for a few weeks and once she was awake, we began the journey to recovery. In complete transparency and honesty, this journey has provided more bad days than good, and I am an overall optimistic and hopeful person, but-yeah. So, what happened? It is believed that my mom experienced a stroke of this size due to undiagnosed hypertension that resulted from unhealthy lifestyle choices, like poor eating and sleeping habits, cigarette smoking, and stress. I had always fussed that she needed to do better and she would wave me off. So, this stroke was a result.

nurse checking out a parent

My mom is fairly young and her medical team was very hopeful that she could make a full recovery, even with her having undergone a craniotomy and experiencing hemiplegia. She did not regain speech until three months post stroke. Day-in and day-out, I was on constant calls with different members of her medical, insurance, and work team planning and completing paperwork, and I was updating the family. I am the oldest of three and my mom is divorced, so no spouse for all of this work to fall on. Once she was discharged, it was time for her to begin in-home therapy and again I’m the oldest, so mom moved in with my family and me. It was bliss to have her home, because in rehab she was not allowed visitors because of COVID-19, so it was nice to lay eyes on her.

First week- cool.

Second week and forward- face palm.

I hadn’t fully comprehended the role of a caretaker. It was work, especially being a working mom with virtually schooled children in elementary. What happened was: I just entered the newborn/baby stage again.

My mom was unable to walk, so I had to do diaper changes, baths, and position her body. She would float in and out of confusion, some days not knowing where she was or the extent of her condition. Other days it would be more of an emotional battle than physical, questioning why this had happened to her. I had not had time to process my own sadness, and I could not let it show, because I had to be encouraging and hopeful 100 percent of the time. Not to mention, my youngest sibling had begun their senior year of high school and I had to be present for the events to make sure she did not feel the impact of my mom not being there.

She crossed over into this path of nonstop complaining and asking for the unhealthy choices that landed her where she was. Not only did she become emotionally draining, but physically as well. She slowly stopped participating in therapy but would get emotional about her physical state. Everything had become a battle and my unprocessed sadness developed into anger.

Never in a million year did I think this is what would become of my mom. Although she made unhealthy choices, she was so strong and always found a solution, but not this time. I never thought I would become a parent to my own parent. It was so hard trying to maneuver this new role, while I was still trying to process everything as a daughter. This new role made me take a step back in so many areas of life, areas that I enjoyed. Until further notice, my role as a daughter had been put on pause; I had to detach.

This new role proved to be hard to digest for the both of us. I had to be extremely hard and firm with her and of course, she thought my love and respect for her were declining. It wasn’t but I didn’t have time to coddle her during this recovery. I felt I wanted her to recover more than she did. It got to point where I felt she was really giving up and I asked if she was holding on because of my sisters and I. Talk about a difficult conversation.

Here I am parenting my children, my mom, and myself. This story is still unfolding…

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Originally from Tupelo, MS, family and friends have dubbed Niki an honorary Memphian. She loves all of Memphis except Collierville, because of a speeding ticket that one time. Mom to Aria and Hayes and wife of 5 years, but high school sweethearts for 13 years. As a Memphis Realtor, you may spot her placing a “For Sale/Sold” sign in your neighbor’s yard. She also works as the Creative Director and Social Media Manager for downtown lifestyle boutique, Stock & Belle. Wait, there’s more! She also directs and styles photo sessions for local photographer, Jarvis Hughes. She is an advocate for self-love, equality, healthy eats, mother nature, and the 4-hour work day. If you’re wanting to get more personal with Niki, visit her personal blog www.ikinb.com.

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