I’m A Better Daughter Than My Mother Deserves

Photo: fizkes, davelogan, giorgiomtb1 | Canva
Adult daughter frustrated by her narcassist mother

My mother’s dog, Billy, one of the few beings on the planet that she truly loves, stopped sleeping on her bed at night. My mother’s caregiver, Rachel, says this is a sign that my mother won’t be around to see her 98th birthday in March.

Rachel says this as both a warning and an admonishment to me.

The dying need — no, deserve — to have their family around them, even the dying who spent decades pushing their family members away and acting as if the word daughter created a cyanide taste in their mouths.

Family history is changed

My mother speaks of nursing her sister who was dying of cancer and of family duty. Until my mother needed full-time care, I never heard this story.

Although my mother took every opportunity to tell her granddaughter and grandsons exactly how she felt about them which often resulted in tears and alienation, they still come through for her.

I can’t count how many times my mother broke up with me or canceled a visit, I still talk to her several times a week and act as her office manager ordering peanuts for her squirrels and getting her into hospice care.

RELATED: What Family Means To A Narcissist

Once is enough

In July, my boyfriend Andy and I filled in for her caregivers for a weekend. In case, we didn’t know it already, we learned how my mother doesn’t care about anyone’s needs but her own.

After midnight, each night, my mother would turn the sound of her television way up to wake both Andy and me up because she desperately needed a whiskey, a light turned off, or her cat brought to her.

On one day of our stay, my mother became enraged that I had the nerve to finish up in the bathroom because it delayed me getting to her when she wanted her pillow fluffed.

I’m not a trained nurse or caregiver but I still had to change her diaper, wipe her down, and hold her up as she walked from one room to the next

Andy and I learned two lessons. We can never stay there if we want to get any sleep and we aren’t caregivers.

RELATED: 5 Traits Of Narcissistic Parents — Sound Familiar?

I haven’t abandoned my mother

Last month, knowing it might be her last I offered to bring her a turkey dinner. She asked me to cook it at her under-equipped house and I agreed.

We drove 600 miles round trip and brought everything from seating to a potato masher so she could have a nice meal.

Her senses weren’t at full capacity so she didn’t smell the turkey cooking which had been the whole point of cooking it there. She was angry because my niece and nephews and their families didn’t get to my mother’s house early enough for her, and she slept through dinner anyway.

For two days, I sat silently at my mother’s bedside. Since her hearing and mental sense have decreased, it was useless to have a conversation. I listened as she spewed her racist, misogynistic, and ultra-conservative conspiracy theories.

My mother complains how no one has any empathy for old people but she’s never had any empathy for anyone other than herself. She recently fired her other caregiver because she hurt her back and couldn’t work.

Everything has always been all about her.

I’m sad that this is what my mother has become. While she was an indifferent, narcissistic, and often unkind mother, I know she’s suffering as she loses every ounce of her independence. I wouldn’t want that for anyone, especially not the woman who gave me life.

RELATED: 8 Long-Lasting Effects Of Having Narcissistic Parents

I have to think of my own health

The non-Thanksgiving dinner was exhausting. My anxiety and my blood pressure spiked.

Spontaneously going to my mother’s house isn’t an option. I have a cat who may or may not have a brain tumor and isn’t taking her medicine well.

Also, my mother stresses me out.

Tomorrow, I’ll call her and hear how horrible the world has gotten, and how everyone has let her down. How family should take care of each other even though she never took care of us or expressed any desire to do so herself.

What I won’t hear is her taking responsibility for her part in creating the toxic cocoon that surrounds her and repels anyone related to her.

Rachel and the rest of my mother’s caregivers can continue to be her family. My mother may think that isn’t what she wants but it’s the result of her efforts over the past two decades.

Her caregivers may not think I’m a good daughter to my mother, but I’m the best I can be. I haven’t cut her out of my life — and that will have to do.

RELATED: How I (Barely) Survived My Narcissist Mother

Christine Schoenwald is a writer, performer, and frequent contributor to YourTango. She's had articles featured in The Los Angeles Times, Salon, Bustle, Medium, Huffington Post, Business Insider, and Woman's Day, among many others.

This article was originally published at Medium. Reprinted with permission from the author.