I have been researching the effect of a mother’s illness on her children. The boys are two beautiful, well-adjusted, honest and compassionate young men. Vic’s illness has certainly deprived them of a childhood in the true sense of the word and prematurely matured them into compassionate, caring, young men far too early in life. At the tender age of thirteen Jared was cooking for the family… This must certainly have an effect on how the boys perceive relationships with people.
Now according to my research the boys have become what is called ‘parentified’ children. These children solve the problem of sick and inadequate parenting by taking care of their parents. They in effect become parents to their parents, giving to the sick parent what they need from the parent. Now the roles are reversed. This seemingly creative solution is unfortunately too self-sacrificing to be healthy in the long run.
“‘Parentified’ sons who take care of their sick mothers in order to cope with their inability to parent, struggle to suppress obvious needs for love and feelings of loss. They learn to work hard taking care of the needs of others and living off of the scraps that come in the form of reinforcements for their competence and reliability. Their needs for love are overlooked and overshadowed by everyone else’s needs.” The boys, especially Jared, falls into this category 100%. When his little girlfriend was hit in the eye by a hockey ball, he immediately went into caregiving mode, At the time I thought it to be extremely unhealthy that he already has this caregiving character trait. He used to always make the tea and offer to do so much around the house and for his Mom.
I have put a stop to this. I pray it is not too late for the boys to adjust to a “normal” household…
It is however important for them to realize that death is a part of the circle of life and that it is not something dark and something to be feared but rather, if happening in a timely fashion, something that one can embrace. The boys appreciate and respect Vic as their mother. Vic has raised her sons to be respectful.
“The power of a mother’s strength comes from her heart, from her unabashed, unconditional, and unwavering love for her child. There is, as J.K. Rowling wrote in her Harry Potter books, a magic in that love. No matter what happens, a mother is always there for her child. A mother’s love is never to be questioned, and – though she may not know it at first – neither is her strength.”
Vic literally rose from her deathbed to be there for Jared with his operation on Wednesday. When my Mom died I related her final moments to someone jumping from a diving board into a deep pool, reaching the bottom and kicking to rise to the surface of the water for one more breath… only to sink again. This is what Vic does.
Before Jared was wheeled into theatre he whispered into his mom’s ear. She took his hand and said “I promise”.
The surgeon said the operation would last two hours. Vic dutifully went back to bed and rested. One hour and forty-five minutes later she was, IV drip in hand, standing outside the theatre door, waiting for her son. I begged her to at least sit on the chair but she refused. “Mommy, I promised Jared my face would be the first thing he sees when he comes out of theatre!”
It took a superhuman effort but Vic’s love for her son drove her to keep her word. It is true that no mother wants her child to suffer in any way, but life is unfair like that. So, we as mother’s do what we can to provide support, comfort, and protection. And we grow strong enough to bear their hurt as well as our own. As Vic did. As I do. Motherhood cuts deeply, brings you to your knees most days; but it also brings a strength that may surprise you.
The vicious cycle of anger truly rose to the occasions on Wednesday. I got angry with Vic because she was not putting her health first! I KNOW I would have done the same but it was terrible seeing my child do herself harm to be a Mother. I want to wrap her in cotton so she would be spared that extra day…
Yesterday Vic said she doubted whether she would see the end of the year. She is however adamant to be at Jared’s confirmation…one more goal…
Well, Vic is home. I am so grateful. She is conceding that she is too sore and ill to go to hospital…Saturday Jared comes home!!