I Don’t Think I Can Continue Taking Care Of My Sick Mother-In-Law Because- Woman Narrates
My mother-in-law. She’s a good woman going through bad things. Sometimes it makes me wonder. If we would do all the good things only for bad things to befall us, then what’s the essence of being good? I won’t attempt to answer that question. I would leave it to God. He has all the answers. Her husband—my husband’s father died in an accident. It broke her heart and cried for days, weeks, months, and even years. It wasn’t easy for her. To lose a companion like my father-in-law felt like raging hell in her heart. I remember what the two did for us during our wedding. How they received me when my husband took me home. How my mother-in-law was always at the kitchen doing things for me anytime I went to visit.
Good woman. Good heart. Good grace. Good mother.
So why should stroke happen to her just when she had gotten over the death of her husband? It was the neighbors who announced her condition to my husband; “Your mother. This evening she was going around the compound when she fell down. It looks serious. We’ve taken her to the hospital. Tell your sisters. They should come right away.” My husband called his sisters, three of them. Married and living with their husbands. The next day, they all met at the hospital where their mother was admitted. For the next one month that she was on admission, it was one of their family members who stayed by her at the hospital and took care of her. My husband visited every weekend. His sisters passed through once in a while.
And then she was discharged and brought to the house. She didn’t get any better. The family member who was taking care of her tried her very best—went around seeking traditional care for her. Nothing worked. I think she also got tired and decided to go back to the life she was living before my mother-in-law got sick. She had a store in the market where she was selling. When she started taking care of her, she left the store in the hands of her daughter who also had her life to live. The woman called my husband one day and told him, “It’s time for me to go back to where I came from. Your mother needs a new caretaker.”
He called his sisters and had a discussion with them. I don’t know how the discussion went. Who said what and who didn’t say anything. My husband came home one day and told me, “I’m going to bring my mother here. It would be better for her to come live with us than leave her there. I was surprised he didn’t ask for my opinion before arriving at that conclusion but husbands are like that. They are men so they want to do what men do sometimes. It doesn’t also mean I can’t speak my mind.
I told him, “Dear, we live in a two-bedroom house with three children. It’s not easy for me in the morning. Bringing your mother here would make things worse for me—combining her care with that of the kids won’t be easy for us. She has a big house already. Why don’t you and your sisters come together and hire a caretaker for her? She would receive undivided care and that would be better than bringing her here to live with us.” He said, “No I won’t leave my mother in the hands of a stranger. This is the woman who gave me everything when I was a kid. It’s time for me to pay back. She didn’t leave me in the hands of strangers when I was a helpless baby. We didn’t have a nanny. She did everything herself, raising four kids. She has to be here.”
“No, she doesn’t have to be here. She took care of you and you’re also going to take care of her. You can get the best caretaker around. Pay her good money and she would do a great job. It’s the same as you taking care of her.”
He wouldn’t listen to me. He started arranging the kids’ room to welcome his mother. I stood back doing my best to prevent him from bringing his mother in. I knew my husband. I knew immediately his mother comes in, everything would be my work. He’s that man who doesn’t see the need to help around. He doesn’t help with the kids and doesn’t help with any chores. He sees it as my job and I do it without complaints. I wouldn’t sit still and watch while he makes my job harder by bringing in his mother. I said all there’s to say. He didn’t listen.
The night before the arrival of his mom, I got very frustrated and poured my heart out, “Dear, you have three sisters. They have to do this job. It’s their mother just as it’s your mother. They are married just as you are married. What prevents them from taking care of their mother? Get a caretaker!” He asked the question I knew he was going to ask at some point, “If it’s your mother we are talking about here, would you have left her in the hands of a caregiver?” I answered, “Yes I would. And yes, I would visit her regularly so she sees the part I’m playing in her healthcare.”
Husband didn’t listen. A taxi blew its horn one morning and I came out. Mom-in-law at the back of the taxi and her bags packed at the booth of the taxi. I went out and helped her sit in her wheelchair. My husband wheeled her into her room and I went in to ask her how she was doing. I gave her food and went through her drug and gave her what she was supposed to take in the morning. My husband said, “Help her bath. She didn’t bath before coming.”
She didn’t need help to bathe. She needed to be bathed so I did. Just as I expected, my husband left everything in my hands. Before she came around, I woke up at 5am to get the kids ready for school and myself to work. Now, I have to wake up at 4am, get the kids ready, bathe my mother-in-law, make her food, grind her herbal drugs and put it on her bedside, and administer her morning medicine before going to work. There’s a woman who lives next to us. She has a store in front of the house so when we are leaving for work, we leave her in her care. She’s a great woman and she watches her without complaint.
I don’t sleep early because I can’t. Sometimes she would be in pain and crying. I had to be there. If she needs something at dawn, I had to get up and give it to her. She had been living with us for the last four months but if you look at me now, you may think I’m having issues at home. I’ve grown lean and worried. So weeks ago I called my husband and had a very lengthy discussion with him. “You have to start helping around or get a caretaker. I understand you can’t bathe your mother and all that so you take care of the kids and let me also take care of your mom. If you can’t help then get someone here to help around. I’m tired already.” He promised to bring someone around but to date, he hasn’t.
I go to work and I would be sleeping. Sometimes the kids come home in the evening and I wouldn’t have the strength to bathe them. One by one they would fall asleep on the floor and I would carry them inside. My husband comes home very late. I understand. It’s part of his work. What I don’t understand is why he doesn’t want to help his own mother. His sisters are there sleeping soundly next to their husbands in the night while I suffer. They’ve never come around to see their mother ever since she came here.
A woman gets tired and I’m very tired. Weeks ago a colleague at work told me, “Take some leave and rest but don’t stay in your house. Go to your parent’s house and relax for some weeks. When you’re not around, he’ll have a rethink of the whole arrangements.” It’s a good idea and I want to implement it. I’m waiting for the kids to go on vacation. Then I would take my leave and take them with me to my parents’ house. I know he would resist it so I’m planning to tell him my mother is also sick and needs me or my father wants me home to discuss family issues with me. I need a break from it all before I break down. I hope I’m not being insensitive?