1986: this was the year I was born. I grew up living with my brother who is 5 years older than me and my mother, who is 46 years older than me, in a council flat in Leicester. I've decided to write this blog because in recent years I have really struggled to talk to my friends about my mum, or having a parent who is an OAP while you're in your 20's. Women having children in their 40's is so common these days and I don't think women understand the consequences that this leaves on their children in later years.
I didn't have a shit childhood, far from it, but not the best. I'm saying not the best because I'm comparing it to my friends. Their parents would take them out most weekends: strawberry picking, cinema, day trips (you get the gist). My mother was barely able to walk up the stairs and we never had a car which didn't help either. I remember 3 O'Clock, when it was time to get picked up from school. My friends thought my mum was my grandmother and I never corrected them. I saw how youthful their parents were and I felt almost embarrassed to tell them, though very ashamed not to correct them. Like I was lying and might go to hell for it!
My mum and I have never had a strong bond, though I have always been very honest with her. She is very old fashioned in her ways, and I've got to say that her being an older mum did impact on my brother and I in good ways too. Her teaching and values about life, people and education were always very structured; she always told us to behave in a very respectful way, and I have always loved that about both of my parents: their good old fashioned morals.
I'm 29 years old now and my mum's going through dementia, and has been since I was 25, which is a slow process that's never easy. My mum also has osteoporosis of her lower spine, which is extremely difficult as she can't walk much anymore. She can only walk with her walking stick or zimmer frame and she can't leave the house or cook for herself anymore. These things are never going to get better unless there is a real miracle. My mum is 75 years old now and life only gets more worrying and stressful: we have to think more of the worst rather than the best. I lost my father at the age of 17 and since then my world shattered. I never thought death was real until one of my parents left me; the thought of never seeing them again is a really dark and horrible emotion, and now that I'm 29 and my mum's health is getting worse, that nostalgic feeling has come back stronger.
I am going to just put it out there: Women having babies in their 40's are selfish! They have no idea how it's going to pan out. The last thing you want to do in your 20's is have a parent going through dementia and other health problems. You want to be able to go for coffee and cake with them, shopping and even talk wedding plans! These things are just day dreams for me. I've wanted to write about my experience for a long time now but I was too afraid.
My life revolves around my mother now: appointments, appointments, appoitments! Last week my mum was in hospital because she forgot how many tablets she had taken in one day and ended up taking extra painkillers for her arthritis, which left her feeling very confused, drowsy and slurring her speech. I wasn't sure if what she was experiencing was a stroke; I was so afraid. I thought that's it! I've lost my mum! For the few days my mum was in hospital, everything felt like it had slowed down, gone silent and I didn't like it one bit! These are things that women who have children in their 40's don't realise. I'm currently trying to get my mum to go to a daycare centre so she can spend a couple hours with other people she can interact with, which may even help her. But my mum will get anxious and at the last minute decide she can't go. There are days when I feel like running away from everything because i'm just afraid, but these feelings are momentary. There are days when she is feeling better and she laughs, looks happy - those are my favourite days with her.
Writing this blog has made me feel a really strong sense of relief. I have finally done it! Spoken about something I keep very personal, though I'm not technically speaking, but this is definitely the next best thing.