‘Don’t worry about what you can’t control’

It's best just to take one day at a time when you're trying to care for your family

I find, both for my sister and for me, that one of our greatest challenges is not overthinking too much when dealing with our mother.

We both live a long way from her, but speak to her daily.  Given the frequency of communication, each interaction is pretty similar to the one before and the one that will take place the next day.

We talk about the weather, about how she’s feeling and about the day-to-day routines that comprise our lives.

My sister and I speak weekly, sometimes more often if one of us “interprets” something my mom has said as being an impending crisis. In essence, we sit on the phone with her each night, talking about mundane subjects and bringing our own biases and insecurities into what we think she might be saying.

At this stage, we’re a bit sensitized of course. We know she’s going through a big transition, moving from her own house into a seniors’ home. We know she’s finding the loss of her husband a year ago, very trying and she’s lonely without the social routines that governed their lives for 46 years.

And, naturally, we’re feeling guilty that we’re not able to be closer and more supportive of her, even if that choice is more hers than ours.

As time passes, and my mom settles into the routines of her new living accommodations, my sister and I might be less likely to hear some subtle tone or minor phrase that sends our thoughts rocketing at the speed of light to full stress mode.

We may begin to hear more of the subtle tones and minor phrases that reinforce that she’s doing okay and that she’s finding some quality of life in a situation that is completely foreign to us.

For years, I took considerable pride in living the philosophy, “don’t worry about what you can’t control.”

It reduced my stress and allowed me to focus my energy on the matters I could control, at home and at work. But now I find myself worrying about my mom, and if you knew her, you’d understand that she’s the last thing I could ever control.

Had she met the 300 Spartans at Thermopylae, they wouldn’t have lasted 10 minutes and history would have been different.

This is one of the greatest challenges, I believe, in dealing with eldercare issues from afar.

Every vocal inflection or minor complaint seems like a disaster in the making when you feel helpless and distant.  While daily communication is supportive of the parent, it creates a routine of potential stress for the son or daughter. I find I’m on the phone 10 minutes a night, but thinking about what was said for the next hour or more.

I’m going to assume this will get better over time. She’ll settle in; we’ll settle in; routines will create comfort rather than anxiety.

In the interim, both my sister and I need to quit talking to each other so often and setting off each other’s guilt, because really, that’s what this is all about and we have to learn to handle it better.

We’re doing the best we can, and my mother has made her own choices; we need to quit beating up on ourselves.


Graham Hookey writes on education, parenting and eldercare.


Just Posted

Burrards named to Warriors opening roster

Five Maple Ridge WLA players make the Vancouver NLL team

Pitt Meadows approves hiring two more career firefighters

Will fit into 5.75 per cent tax increase, says CAO

Attempt to speed access to treatment in Maple Ridge

Alouette Addictions will be central referral agency.

Albion Community Centre tab almost doubles

Site costs add $5 million to Maple Ridge building

UPDATED: Absolute discharge for mischief charge against Sagmoen

Trial starts at 9:30 a.m. in Vernon Law Courts

Ridge hospital foundation helps with mental health

Donates a possible $500k for youth wellness

Lions announce seven members of coaching staff not coming back for 2019

The operational moves come two days after the Lions announced DeVone Claybrooks as the team’s new head coach

Omar Khadr wants changes to bail conditions

‘My life is held in suspension’, says the former Guantanamo Bay detainee

$12K awarded to atheist family who oppose Christmas, Hanukkah in B.C. classroom

Gary Mangel,May Yasue said holidays, Remembrance Day and Valentine’s Day not appropriate in preschool

Coach accused of sexual assault says apology letter was misinterpreted

Dave Brubaker has pleaded not guilty to one count of sexual assault and one count of invitation to sexual touching

Give the gift of nature this holiday season

Please don’t be mad, but I bought you a moose

Aboriginal poet faces backlash for calling out NHL-themed totem poles

Rebecca Thomas says she received backlash for asking a drugstore chain to remove NHL merchandise

Metro Vancouver mayors vote to ‘develop’ $1.65B in Fraser Highway SkyTrain plans

Surrey will have to ‘compensate’ for the $56 million already spent on light rail

Some Kotex tampons recalled in Canada and U.S.

In some cases, tampon users sought medical attention “to remove tampon pieces left in the body.”

Most Read