‘My relationship with my daughter changed when I had to accept I needed help’

Jun 23, 2021
Chronic illness meant Robyn needed to lean on her daughter for care and support, but the transition was not easy. Source: Stock Image/Getty Images

Let’s face it, none of us escaped 2020 unscathed and 2021, in my opinion, just seems to be the ugly step-sister trying to squeeze into that tiny glass slipper; just not a good fit. Seems to me we are all trying desperately to do the right things, but the prince on his white horse has lost his map coordinates. Things are out of sorts, out of place and unbalanced as we wait and hope for a rescue.

It’s all been a topsy-turvy mess of social gatherings gone wrong, wedding celebration failures, ‘streamed’ unattended funerals and lockdowns. For me it’s been so much more, it was the year my 43-year-old girl child displaced me as the parent and the 69-year-old me, kicked, screamed, loudly objected, slowly (and ungraciously) accepted the ‘changing of the guard’.

Accepted? Nope! No, I did not!

To realise my health was deteriorating and I would not be getting better — that I needed help at home — was one thing, to accept I needed help to get out and about and to accept I could no longer drive (or fly) was devastating. It seemed to happen overnight.

Realistically it took about 10 months. I wasn’t aware but my daughter was watching carefully from the sidelines, knowing full well my independence was being chipped away. She sought expert advice, researched, but took into consideration my stubborn personality and independent nature, and she gave me space to reach my own conclusion.

I had become a recluse and then one horrible day I looked around my unit — I saw what my unit had become. No, not a disgusting hovel, but nowhere near my standard of clean and tidy; the realisation hit me like a kick to the stomach. I needed to swallow my pride and ask for help. My wise-beyond-her-years daughter had been waiting for it.

She lives in Sydney (husband and three beautiful kids) but, once I admitted I was not coping, she was by my side in Brisbane within hours.

She never once made me feel inadequate or needy, she simply gathered me up in her arms, held me so tightly (breathing was difficult) and we … predictably … cried. We cried a lot. We both knew what this moment meant and it was overwhelming. It was a beautiful moment that lasted for roughly 30 minutes; then she meant business. Looking back, I guess this was the moment our relationship shifted.

She had a list; save us from daughters who make lists. She had me booked into every class, trial, new age crystal, hypnosis, university study, occupational therapist and medical facility in Australia; but I was having none of it. I loved this child from the very moment I birthed her, but I don’t know where she gets this bossy character trait from …? It’s so bloody annoying!

Yes, our Mother/Daughter relationship has been turned on its head. Our whole family dynamic has changed, actually. We all argue and sometimes, just sometimes, agree.

The latest subject of discussion: my funeral. What the heck is wrong with a few of my ashes being placed in a sky rocket and shot into space to become a star, I ask you? Refreshments to be fairy floss, Dagwood dogs, ice creams etc., plus side-show alley games (ball-in-the-mouth clowns, knock ‘em downs, hoop that prize, lucky wheel). The discussion will continue, I know, because I secretly added it to ‘the list’; at least my brain is still functioning.

I will never be able to thank My Girl enough for her advocacy, love, acceptance, humour and the heavy responsibility of the reversal of our relationship; it’s not been easy. Sadly, the glass slipper is a perfect fit for my child. For us, there will be no fairy tale, happily-ever-after ending, but we are determined to stay at the ball for as long as we can.

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