Lessons From Mom


I often say I am now a parent but I have no children.  I have never really been a kid person, I hated babysitting, plus the thought of pregnancy and childbirth really put me off having kids.   Then I would be left with a squalling piece of hunanity who is completely dependent on me.  No thanks!  When I was in my 30’s I wondered if my biological clock would start ticking away and make me broody.  Then our godson from Australia came to visit for 6 weeks.  That experience short circuited my clock and blew it into oblivion.

Fast forward to this year, suddenly and Life throws me a curve ball.   I am more a parent than a daughter as my 93 year old mother deals with macular degeneration and dementia.  She has become very child like, yet with an adult brain and memory. I kept thinking it would be easier if I had had a child, but a friend told me it doesn’t prepare you at all for taking care of a parent.  Mom told me the other day she misses the things she used to do when she was rug hooking – I can relate a little because I remember how it was when I had a terrible flareup and wasn’t able to do anything but watch tv.  I can’t begin to imagine how she feels or how the world seems to her.  She has periods of being quite clear, then others when she is confused and  no idea what is happening.  Yet, she has shown me living examples of things we keep hearing about – detach and live in the moment.

It has come to the point where she doesn’t think anything is hers any more – she  will say “Your dishwasher isn’t working”, “Your dishes need to be cleaned”.  When it comes to anything that needs to be done or repaired in the house, it is our house.  Even when I tell her it is her house, it doesn’t seem to register.  If that isn’t a great example of detaching, I don’t know what is.  I think she is just overwhelmed with everything and it is her way of dealing with it.  It is a great lesson in not being attached to things or circumstances; I do have too much attachment to things especially because I see the associations with them as well as the object itself.  I am very sentimental and may explain why I am such a pack rat – it’s because someone special gave it to me or it was a special occasion or I may need it some day.

When we moved from Fort Wayne to Seattle, I had to give away a lot of things – it wasn’t as difficult as I thought it would be because I knew I was paying the freight on that move.  I don’t know if I could have parted with things so easily if the company was paying – turned out to be a good thing and I didn’t have to agonize about what to keep.

The second lesson from Mom is living in the moment.  For her it is mostly that way now since she has trouble remembering from one moment to another or for a day.  She is constantly asking if it is all right to do something, as if she needs permission.  That was how we grew up, asking Mom and Dad before doing anything.  She enjoys food and has a great appetite, very seldom does she say she doesn’t like something we cook.  Last week we decided to try a meatloaf from QFC because Mom had said to Eddie she would really like to have meatloaf.  We cooked it and she really enjoyed it, several times during dinner she said how good it was.  I am not sure she remembered she had said it, but in that moment eating the meatloaf was a pleasure, along with the mashed potatoes and vegetable.  There was enough left for 3 sandwiches for her and each time she kept saying how good it was.

Monday is her favorite day because the Thrift Store ladies come to play Mexican Dominoes.  She can’t see the tiles but the ladies help her and they enjoy coming and spending time with her.  She makes sure there are cookies or cake or some kind of goody for them, plus she thoroughly enjoys them herself.  Mom has quite a sweet tooth, so she loves dessert – I almost think she would rather have dessert than the rest of the meal.  It is one of the few topics of conversation she doesn’t have trouble expressing herself.

In a way it has been an eye opener for me to see a bit what being a parent is like – I want the best for her and worry a bit when I have to go out for business and she is on her own.  I am sure it has had an effect on my RA, though not sure how I can measure that.  What I know is that if I weren’t doing this for Mom, I would be putting an enormous guilt trip on myself and making the RA even worse.

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