When Life Hands You Lemons: Pam Batchelder
Words by: Pamela Ann Batchelder
Most people experience care from parents, family members, or guardians in their infancy and young childhood. Some have very loving and learning childhoods where their caregiver teaches them many life skills and things about the world around them, keeps them safe from physical harm and danger, and they learn bit by bit of how to become a mature adult and how to take on responsibility.
I am one of the lucky and some may say blessed ones to have enjoyed this type of raising from my dear family. It along with my curiosity and my never ending quest of trying to find out how to do necessary tasks in the most streamlined and easy way, and to teach and encourage others how to do things- has served me well. Everything in my life had prepared me for 2006. My Mother became very ill and needed me to be her medical advocate. I started taking on many things for her to help her on the journey of her healing. Many things I started to do were things that other friends of my age group (40's) did not have to do, since their parents had minor illnesses they could manage or they were very healthy and helped their children with the grandkids and other things that people in my age group leaned on their parents for. I know it was selfish, but after the first few months, I felt so bad inside and I felt a bit cheated. Questions of self-pity surfaced-"Why do I have to do this now, I thought it would not be for another 15-20 years before I had to help my parents in this way?" As it turned out, since my Dad had suffered a stroke a few years earlier, he also was having some problems with keeping up with things- so I began to help him too.
I remember several times when Mom would say "I am so sorry to be such a burden." At those times, and other times too, I responded, "Mom, when I was a child I was very sickly, you always took care of me! You did not throw me out, I will not throw you out either! " I reminded her about all the things she did for me and taught me as a child. She and I always had a good laugh about that and we decided to be partners in managing her ongoing healthcare (now that she was no longer in crisis) and things that needed to be done. She has been a good partner and it is a beautiful thing to see her doing so well, getting to be with her friends, enjoying retirement with my Dad, and generally being the happiest I have seen her in many years.
Initially, caring for a sick mother, when you have children at home, and have your own business-seemed to me to be a case of life handing me lemons and too many responsibilities. Thankfully, Mom and I worked together to turn those lemons into lemonade.