Happy Mother's Day to all caregivers and to our Moms!
Having lost Mom last year (4/16),,,Mother's Day has been on my mind a lot today. With my 90-year-old Dad living with me now, it seems to me that daily life for those of us caring for our aging and infirm parent(s) sometimes gets bogged down in the day-to-day frustrations and stress of having to face the grind. Some of our parents have become difficult people - my Mom certainly was. But I'd like to encourage our caregiving group to focus on the positive in honor of the day.
I lived 1400 miles from my folks for the last 10 years. In the last few years my Mom was alive, I used to say that I'd rather stick a needle in my eye than to call her...lol. She was never a upbeat, positive person - that got 200% worse as she aged and dementia set in. My sister and I would visit at least twice a year - and hear about her pill schedule and bowel habits and the same stories of the past,,,daily & exclusively (somehow she'd never remember to ask how we were doing). By the 3rd day of a visit, my patience reserves were always nearly depleated. I'd take a LOT of cigarette breaks outside...lol.
But of course I continued to call her on a weekly basis (and usually had to spend a half hour afterwards de-stressing). And I never canceled a visit or cut one short (usually at least a week at a time)....even went extra when needed. I found that I had to learn to remind myself that Mama probably felt the same aversion to me a good third of my life - I wasn't the easiest kid/teen/young adult on earth and probably contributed more gray hair on her head than my siblings. My childhood wasn't a pretty fairy tale, nor was it a horror story - we were just a fairly dysfunctional family - our parents raised us with the knowledge and skills they had...which, was the best they could (isn't that what we all do?). Whatever old hurts between mom and myself were put away in my heart long ago and replaced with compassion and forgiveness.
When you look at or think of your Mama tomorrow (or even your Dad) - try to look past the old person that's demanding you drop everything and help them wipe - or is saying something so mean and hurtful that it actually physically hurts - Try to see the parent that put a band-aide & ointment on that skinned knee, or read "Goodnight Moon" to you 5,000 times, or put up with hours of your trombone practice, or let you sleep with them when you had that high fever, or showed you how to thread a sewing needle, or held the back of your bike when the training wheels came off, or came to the jail at 2 am when you got picked up for curfew violation, or talked you through your first heartbreak, or sat through 12 years of teacher conferences, or helped you bathe your own first baby......And for a moment or three hours or all day - let your heart fill with patience, love and compassion for the person who gave you so much of themselves at times when you couldn't give back.
Really, it's the best gift you can give and receive.