Dear Barb—Role Reversal

Dear Barb:

I am a student in my early twenties.  My mother was a single mom.  After my dad moved out mom never remarried, but she had lots of relationships and live-in boyfriends.  I don’t doubt that she loved me, but she was a partier.  Our house was always filled with people, and I felt lost in the crowd.  Most mornings I couldn’t wake her up I so pretty much raised myself.  I have a younger brother, but he stayed with his dad when my mom and I moved out.  I never brought friends home because I was embarrassed by my home situation, plus my mom smoked weed daily.  Mom was never mean to me, she was mostly neglectful, but I did feel loved by her.  The problem I am having now is that she was recently diagnosed with cancer, and I am having a hard time dealing with it.  What I mean is, she requires a lot of care, and I am feeling a little resentful of having to give up so much of my life to care for her when she basically gave up nothing for me.  I just started university and I fear I am going to lose my year.  I have been looking at registering at AU so I can pick up a few courses.  Is it wrong for me to feel this resentment toward my mom? And how can I resolve these feelings? Looking forward to hearing from you.  Thanks, McKenna. 

Hi McKenna:

I am sorry that you had this experience as a child.  The good thing is that you did feel your mother’s love despite her neglectful behavior.  Understandably, you are feeling resentful towards your mother since you are now being expected to do for your mom what she never did for you.  It appears that your mother put her happiness ahead of yours.  This is not something most mothers do.  Your resentment and possibly angry feelings are perfectly normal, but as you are realizing you must do something about them.  My advice would be to find a counselor in your area, or a support group, which will help you to work through these feelings.  You need to find a balance, as you need to care for your mother, and continue your life.  Do not put your life on hold.  Perhaps you could get outside help or other family members to assist with your mother’s needs.  I believe with a bit of help you will be able to get through this.  If you turn your back on your mother now, you may be left with guilt and remorse.  Best of luck McKenna.

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