Boomer Daughters – Senior Mothers
What do people gain from all their labors at which they toil under the sun? Generations come and generations go, but the earth remains forever.” Ecclesiastes 1:3-4

Mother-Daughter Role Reversal Can Be Tough

Do I dare say that we as women are remarkable? After thriving, surviving, and finally growing up right along with our children, boomer women (me included) are experiencing some new hurdles—those that come with being a caretaker and decision maker. It has suddenly become necessary to facilitate major life changes for one or more of our elderly parents.

When did this happen, anyway? Like me, and for many of you this hits home. Even though we hate to admit it, this new role is challenging us big time. Recently when visiting a new independent care facility with my mother-in-law, I thought, check me in—this is lovely, and I could certainly use the help and respite!

It can sometimes be shocking to realize how overloaded we are as we juggle many roles. Stepping up to decision-maker or caretaker is simply one more ball to juggle in this season of life. And obviously, other areas of responsibility don’t go away because another is suddenly more demanding. We are busy, and for most of us, our ongoing goal is to continue to grow and experience all of life we can, and to do it often and do it well.

Women are spending many hours over coffee talking about it, but hate to admit to the frustrating challenges this brings. There are a multitude of responsibilities with mother-daughter role reversal: emotional ups and downs, exhaustion, frustration, guilt, confusion, impatience, fear, and even anger!

You need some fresh air, some relief, to what you hate to say out loud. Amidst it all, struggling with feeling like you aren’t doing well enough at anything is not uncommon. And the role of nurturing, that of being sensitive and listening, proactive and responsive to our parent’s needs tops the list. Emotions like those mentioned run the gamut.

Now it is daughter-mother, and this role reversal can be tough. After all, didn’t our mothers meet our needs as kids? I know mine did. She always gave me a sense of security and love. She listened, encouraged, drove me to appointments, reassured me things would work out. She put her own needs aside to meet mine. She stayed up late into the night sewing that special dress I just had to wear the next day. And more times than I can count, I know she bit her tongue when she was at her wits end with me, and wanted to scream! At the very least, I can do the same for her. But how?

I have no perfect prescription in how to navigate this reversal of responsibilities. It’s important to accept that we simply do our best, because often times this role reversal doesn’t come naturally—it feels like a forced balancing act, out-of-sync to our senses. We still want to cry on our mother (or father’s) shoulder, not have her/him cry on ours. We have to adjust, and maybe once and for all, we boomers have to grow up.

My mother is 84 and we recently moved her from her home and city of 50 years, into assisted care near where I live. I felt it was time and she agreed. It is both a privilege to have her here, yet it is a season of painstaking adjustments for us both. I am evolving as a daughter, and reminding myself frequently that it is an incredible treat to help my mother.

At the same time, I have to accept my human frailties, and not beat myself up on the days I can’t be my best, and accept the times I can’t do it all. And so do you! 

We’re simply daughters who still want to meet our mother’s expectations, do life well, and see the twinkle of approval in our parent’s eyes. We still want to be the good daughter.

But today, I encourage you to allow these thoughts of encouragement to penetrate your heart and mind. Shed the negatives, accept the realities, and give yourself a break. (Quoted Scripture MSG)

Exhaustion: We honor God when we remember to care for ourselves, and in doing so, we have the energy to help and care for others. “Because we do not rest we lose our way … poisoned by the hypnotic belief that good things come only through unceasing determination and tireless effort, we never truly rest. And for want of rest, our lives are in danger.” –Wayne Muller

Frustration: We honor God when we recognize we can’t do it alone. We need him! “But in their distress they turned to the Lord, the God of Israel, and sought him, and he was found by them.” 2 Chronicles 15:4

Guilt: We honor God when we realize guilt is oftentimes unnecessary. He lets us know when it is necessary! “You were jarred into turning things around. You let the distress bring you to God, not drive you from him. The result was all gain, not loss.” 2 Cor. 7-9

Confusion: We honor God when we ride the wave, not submerge ourselves beneath the countless waves. “The law of the Lord is perfect, reviving the soul. The statutes of the Lord are trustworthy, making wise the simple.” Psalm 19:7

Impatience: We honor God when we take a deep breath, walk away and pray for patience. “Listen and attend with the ear of your heart.” –Benedict of Nursia

Fear: We honor God when we accept that fear is part of our human condition, but refuse to allow it to consume us and ruin our present moment. The best thing about the future is that it comes only one day at a time.” –Abraham Lincoln

Anger: We honor God when we vent our angry feelings with him, and a trusted friend or family member. “The Lord God said, “It is not suitable for man (woman) to be alone. I will make a helper suitable to him.” –Genesis 2:18

Enjoy today! May God bless you and those whom you love and care for—after all, if we have children, the reversal will come one day for us, too. 🙂 Blessings, Judy

“There is a time for everything, and a season for every activity under the heavens.” Ecclesiastes 3:1-3

Judy’s books, Refreshing Hope and Friendship Interrupted will soon be available on Kindle and Nook. We’ll keep you posted.