What it’s like to bring up an ill daughter while being forgotten by your own mother?


Childbirth can be a time when generations grow close, with mothers passing on wisdom and support to daughters who are becoming parents for the first time. But for Helen Stevenson, that natural support system was turned on its head when she gave birth to her first daughter, Clara.

As her child entered the world, Stevenson’s mother Ena began the journey away from it, slipping into dementia and leaving the writer, then 38, without the support she had naturally presumed and hoped for. The situation was made all the more precarious when Clara was diagnosed with the incurable disease cystic fibrosis (CF).

‘’It was particularly strange to have my mother slipping away like that,’’ says Stevenson, as we sit in a pink-washed music room in the family’s rambling cottage in Somerset.

“It wasn’t just because it meant I couldn’t lean on her in any way, but because she was apt to make a nonsense out of everything I was trying to make sense of. I had to explain Clara’s condition to her over and over, and in the end there didn’t seem much point; it only upset both of us.”

Read more from the Telegraph here.