Ms. Magazine
So...Are You Two Together?
You share a home and a life with your best girlfriend. What do you call that?

MS.CELLANEOUS
- What?
- Just the Facts
- Word: No
- Women to Watch

Uppity Woman
A puppet maker on a mission.
HEALTH
- Unconscionable Care
- Cardinal Sins
- Healthnotes
Life and Death in Iraq
Our reporter goes inside Iraq to learn firsthand what sanctions have done to the lives of women.
Did the Women's Museum Wimp Out?
While many have raved about the new Women's Museum in Dalls, others say it soft-pedals the details of the struggle for women's rights.
Portfolio: Eyes of the Beholder
African American women photographers turn the "gaze" inside out.
ART
Breaking from Tradition: Two Great Singers from Mali.
POETRY
My Dreams, My Works, Must Wait Till After Hell by Gwendolyn Brooks

Ms News

Editor's Page: Mothering Our Mothers

Books:
-A History of the Wife, by Marilyn Yalom
-Freedom's Daughters, by Lynne Olson
-Kamikaze Lust, by Lauren Sanders
-Manmade Breast Cancers, by Zillah Eisenstein
-Smell, by Radhika Jha

-First Person: Slut, Interrupted
-Columns: Daisy Hernandez, Patricia Smith and Gloria Steinem
Call for Woman of the Year
Tell us who you think should be recognized in this special issue.





Like so many women, i am at that bittersweet stage of life where I'm now the caregiver for a parent. My mother is sliding into the murky world of fading memories and mental confusion that marks Alzheimer's disease. A year ago, when she celebrated her 86th birthday, she was a feisty self-sufficient woman; a trifle forgetful but able to drive her own car to the supermarket, prepare her own meals, and handle her bills and banking. But all the signs were there: she was quick to anger, more withdrawn, more frail. She had had a series of part-time aides who came to clean and do the laundry, and she had found fault with them all. As her mental deterioration became increasingly evident, my sister and I decided that she needed a regular caregiver. Increasingly enraged about losing control, angry with us for insisting that she needed help, Mom seemed determined to sabotage every effort we made. We'd hire someone and she'd lock her out, or verbally abuse her. My mother's fear was that we wanted to put her in a nursing home. Our fear was that we would have to place her there.

I took control of her bank account. She accused me of stealing her money. We took her car keys and made sure that the car could not be started, just in case she had hidden away another set of keys. I, the daughter who lived closest to her, deluded myself into believing that she only needed someone to come in during the day, that she had in fact prepared her evening meals, that she was taking her medication. I'd call every day and race out to see her on weekends, bring special treats, and pay her bills. Some part of me refused to acknowledge that her conversations were becoming increasingly disjointed, facts giving way to fiction, and that she was off the page more often than not. I didn't want her life to change, and I didn't want mine to change either. So off I went on business trips that kept me away for two weekends in a row. And then I got a phone call: Mom had been found disoriented and wandering the halls of the seniors' complex where she lives. Our lives had changed.

I packed my bags and headed into the unknown. Seemingly overnight, the woman I had known as my mother had disappeared. In her stead was a very frail old woman, increasingly trapped in dementia, who had stopped eating regularly and taking her medication, who was losing control of her bladder and needed to wear adult diapers. Suddenly that phrase "once an adult and twice a child" was all too achingly real. The time had come for my sister and me to mother our mother.

So here we are in a bittersweet period. There are a plethora of articles and books addressing situations like ours. But no matter how much you read, nothing truly prepares you for the frustration and the pain and the guilt and the fear and the slow mourning. And yet, with the bitter comes the sweet. I catch glimpses of the little girl my mother once was. I've come to savor the waves of unconditional love that well up at unexpected moments when we are together. I'm humbled by the reversal of needs that takes me back to my childhood, when she was my rock and my refuge. I'm blessed and strengthened and surrounded by a support circle-friends who open their arms, acquaintances who have either gone down this road before me or are also finding their way in this unknown country. My faith has deepened, as has my appreciation of the importance of being in a community, and in my bleakest times I've called on the spirits of my female ancestors and have been renewed.

And I find myself looking in the mirror wondering, is this the journey I, too, will take one day when I am old?