In an intricate dance between love, duty, and personal aspirations, the Original Poster (OP) grapples with her role as a caregiver for her ailing brother while juggling college and a relationship.
OP and her mother share a strained relationship, despite the underlying love. Their interaction isn’t like a typical mother-daughter bond. She is often seen as a caretaker to her other child before a daughter.
The tension between OP and her mother is exacerbated by the absence of OP’s father, who left when her younger brother was diagnosed with a debilitating genetic disorder. This left OP’s mom to pick up the pieces and be responsible for finding her son’s care.
The Young Warrior
OP’s brother has Sanfilippo syndrome, a condition that severely deteriorates the brain and nervous system over time. Despite the typical life expectancy of 10-20 years for this condition.
To Make Matters Worse
Despite the typical diagnosis already being devastating, her brother’s health has deteriorated more rapidly than anticipated. Now completely dependent on care, he cannot walk, talk, or take care of his basic needs. This leaves OP and her mom with quite the burden to bear.
OP attends college four days a week, and her tuition is funded by her mother. This comes with the condition that OP must live at home and care for her brother in her spare time.
Full On Caretaker
She is not trained as a nurse but must perform a range of exhaustive tasks to look after her ailing brother. This includes things like catheterizing him, constantly monitoring his vitals, keeping notes of his medications, and more.
The Struggles of Balancing Act
Taking care of her brother while pursuing college studies proves incredibly challenging for OP. Her grades are suffering, and she finds herself on the brink of failure. She is always exhausted, juggling between being a caregiver and a student.
OP has been in a steady relationship with her boyfriend for three years. In a moment of excitement and perhaps desperation for change, he proposes they move in together. She agrees, forgetting to discuss this decision with her mother beforehand.
The Silent Burden
Fatigue has become OP’s constant companion, often making her fall asleep at parties, in class, or on public transport. The effect on her mental and physical health becomes more evident, but the unspoken rule of the house prevents her from voicing her struggles.
The guilt of potentially leaving her mother alone with her brother’s care makes her question herself. Moving out feels like an incredible opportunity for OP to get to focus on school and herself for once. She decides to share the news with her mother.
OP’s announcement about moving out is met with intense anger from her mother. The prospect of caring for her brother alone is daunting and anger-inducing for her mother. As a result, her mother threatens to cut off her tuition if OP moves out.
The Impossible Decision
OP is stuck in a difficult position, forced to decide between staying at home or losing her tuition. If she stays, her academic performance is likely to worsen due to the unrelenting caregiver responsibilities. On the other hand, if she leaves, she risks her education by losing her source of college funding.
OP decides to post to an online forum for advice on the situation to validate her feelings or show her if she is wrong. Most see her side of the story as valid. Others argue that she needed to give her mom a warning and help her find other care that would have been more appropriate.
Was Moving Away From Her Family Appropriate?
The readers in the forum had a lot of mixed views on the matter. Here are some of their responses:
One reader said, “I’m so sorry your brother was dealt this hand in life. It’s understandable that your mom is upset. However, she has placed an undue burden on you. One that should never have been placed.”
Another Commenter Thinks
Another responder wrote: “Your mom can’t expect you to help out with your brother the rest of your life. You have your own life and, later, your own family to take care of. If she can’t do it alone, she needs to look for help from professionals.”
A Third View on The Story
A different person states, “The entire situation sucks, and I am sorry, but she cannot depend solely on you. Unfortunately, she will probably withdraw paying for your college, and that sucks, but it might be better off getting student loans and passing than taking money from her and failing because you’re exhausted.”
A Final Perspective on the Matter
Another viewpoint on the story: “You already put your life on hold long enough. Time for you to live it.”
What Do You Think?
What are your thoughts on their actions?
What would you have done in this situation?
This story is inspired by a thread from an online forum.