When you have a spouse that has Alzheimer’s Disease, at some point you become a very bad “parent”. The very thing you read articles about when you are a young, inexperienced new Mom or Dad that you swear you will never do….assume that your precious angles did something without having the proof.
You know how it is; there is always that one kid that always gets in trouble and is always being bad. So, when something happens, you ASSUME it is them that did it. Something gets broken, it was them. Other kids start misbehaving, it must be the influence of that rotten kid.
Our 9 year old son has figured out that Daddy won’t always remember what is going on AND he has figured out that I, yes, perfect me, will probably believe anyone else in the world at this point before I believe Jim. Do you know how hard it is to read that in black and white? There are so many things I am ashamed of these days, but unfortunately, the truth hurts.
Recently Brad came upstairs to talk to me while I was getting ready for work. I casually asked him if he had eaten his fruit with breakfast. He said he had eaten all of his pineapple. No reason to doubt him because my wonderful, adorable son would NEVER lie about eating his fruit, right?
Jim comes up a few minutes later and asks Brad about eating his pineapple. Brad says he did, without even blinking a lash. Jim informs him that he did NOT eat his pineapple and needs to come down stairs to eat it. Jim claims he didn’t even make any yet for him. Hmmmm. This is that moment where a rational thinking, normal wife would immediately agree with her husband, the father, and reprimand that child for telling a lie. Not me. No, I have a husband that doesn’t always remember a question he just asked me let alone the answer I gave him, so I immediately choose to side with our son. I inform Jim that Brad did indeed eat his pineapple and he probably doesn’t remember fixing it for him. Like I would know since I haven’t even made it downstairs yet.
Jim sulks away and I start digressing into a darker place, realizing that Jim must be having a bad day and that I need to get out the door for work and honestly, that is the last thing I feel up to doing. A tiny trickle of tightness starts in my chest but I push it out of my mind and keep getting ready. What I really want to do is change the course of this day, change my life, change the fact that Jim cannot remember fixing Brad pineapple and can’t be a man and take charge of the situation and control the conversation with our 9 year old son! What I really want to do is scream. Scream at the top of my lungs that Jim needs to take over and make Brad eat the damn pineapple and he needs to punish him for lying. But, deep in the back of my brain I know. I know that he won’t do anything and it will be me that has to take over, to yell, to punish, to once again take control over the situation and turn into mean, bitchy mom that is always yelling and complaining and telling everyone what to do all the time.
A short bit later, Jim comes back upstairs and asks Brad if he ate his pineapple, where is the bowl? Hmmmmm again. Jim seems to be with it today. Could Brad have LIED to me? He wouldn’t do that, would he? My golden rule with the kids is to not take advantage of Jims’ situation. I have gone over and over this with them both and threatened them within an inch of their lives on this subject.
I turn to Brad one last time and ask him again if he ate his pineapple. At this point, can you believe we are having a 10 minute conversation and heated debate about eating pineapple? Like this is the most important thing that could possibly be going on in our lives right now and we have nothing else to do.
Brad slowly looks at me with his big, beautiful eyes and tells me “oh yeah, I don’t think I did have any. I forgot”
Bullshit. He knew the whole time. And I snap. I snap because I am mad at my kid. I snap because I am REALLY mad at myself for not believing Jim and everything that symbolizes in our marriage and in our home. Which makes me even more disappointed in Brad for making me choose him over Jim and breaking my own golden rule.
Then, I must yell, and scream and punish Brad. Which is really like punishing myself.
I swallow my pride but not my tears and apologize to Jim for not believing him. I don’t feel like I can handle any more. When will this nightmare be over? Can I please just go back to bed and sleep until I have a new life? Or at least until I can feel like I can get myself together? My head feels like it is spinning and on the verge of exploding.
And then Jim puts his arms around me and tells me what a great mom I am and how much he loves me. He tells me it is OK that I snapped. It is OK that I didn’t believe him. It is OK. Which actually makes me feel even worse because even with this wretched disease taking over his mind, it is still so obvious; Jim is and always has been a much better person than I could ever hope to be.
I look at the clock and it is just 8:15 am. I was supposed to be working 15 minutes ago.
So, I pull myself together (as much as possible at that moment), give Brad a hug and tell him I love him and that I want him to have a great day at school. Inside I feel empty, like a huge black hole has taken over where my heart was. I need something, but I can’t put my finger on it. As I watch Jim and Brad walking down the sidewalk to school, I feel the tears starting to come. But I can’t have the luxury of a good cry at this point; I have already put on my mascara and I am now officially 20 minutes late for work. How much worse would our situation be if I lost my job?
Without thinking, I start my workday and start the motions that will carry me through until I can reclaim my tormented soul.