Everyone wants their independence, right? It's what this country was founded on.
My grandmother wants the independence of living on her own. It was something she clung to fiercely before the stroke when all signs were pointing towards her needing major assistance in her day-to-day life. Now that she's lost in a cloud and her mind is severed from a full-understanding of what she's gone through, the one thing that consistently rises to the surface is that she wants to go home and she doesn't want anyone to help her. Clearly, that is no longer a possibility, but that doesn't mean that she's not still experiencing all the anger and frustration that comes from the fact that no one will let her have what she wants.
My mother still understands that it's not practical for her to live on her own, but she still struggles with her conviction that she can do most routine tasks by herself. Up until recently, we could play it by ear...some days she could dress/undress on her own, some days her limbs would simply refuse to do as she asked. I'd let her get started on her own and then jump in as needed. Now that it's become a rare serendipity to find her already changed into/out of her pajamas, the most efficient use of our time is for me to go ahead and help out right from the beginning of the morning/nighttime routine.
Bedtimes in particular have become rough on us because of this. She's already fatigued and emotionally worn out from our days at the nursing home and lately she tends to lash out at me when I go to help her. But even if she asks for me to go away and leave her alone, I mean, that's not really an option, is it? There are definitely days I'm so exhausted and all I want to do is go to bed myself, but instead I have to wait for her to wear herself out trying to do things herself, have a cathartic emotional crying jag with her and THEN we can get to the business of getting ready for bed.
Nathan, too, is on the early cusp of the, "I can do it myself" phase, insisting on holding his spoon so that he can deliver lumps of oatmeal directly into his right ear. But in his case, I know it's a necessary process, he's only going to get better at it and I can always strip him down and dump him in the tub.
And me? I'm feeling a little less than independent these days too. I guess I should just appreciate all I can do for myself, but I definitely feel the weight of the other people who depend upon me. It's a temporary state though and I know it won't last forever. And perhaps it will serve a purpose when that day comes, far in the future, when I can be impulsive and crazy and pack my bags on a moment's notice to go someplace slightly dangerous, but very worthwhile. People go their whole lives without appreciating the periods when they can do those things and I, for one, will never take that sort of freedom for granted again.