I think of myself as a pretty smart cookie. Common sense is my consistent companion. But, I do have a downfall and that is, I forget easily. For example, I despised being pregnant and shoving a human out of my body, but I did it twice. Don’t get me wrong. I am very pleased with those two entities that resided in my womb rent free. I just erased the nine months of vomiting along with them using my bladder as their own recreational outlet.
Fast forward to the present where I orchestrated a family dinner with my mom. Bryce was home this past weekend. Since we weren’t sure if he would be in attendance for Thanksgiving, I thought it would be ideal to take her out so she could spend a little time with both boys. My intentions were lovely, but I seemed to have erased the memories of past dinners . Thinking that somehow, this gathering would be different.
My family goes along with my plan even when they know the score. I don’t fault my mother. When she is anxious, she tends to act out and guess who is target practice? Me. So, prior to picking her up, I sent a little prayer to the guy upstairs. I invited Him to dinner, so that I could be patient, tolerant and kind. Even with that, my gut was clenched.
I knew the moment that she got into the car, we were circling the drain. Sigh. Once we were seated at our table, I again, hoped that things would settle down and that we could enjoy our dinner. I tried redirecting the conversation. Changing topics that were safe. I even had Brian sit next to her as a physical and emotional buffer. Nothing worked. It didn’t help that I reacted to a lot of the things that were thrown at me. Brian gave me a loving reminder that I was allowing her to affect my mood. I forgot that she was an 88-year old woman who is full of fear. Instead, I was the wounded little girl. My reaction did not match the woman that I want to be. The woman that I am when I am spiritual grounded.
Then I was alerted to the fact that my Higher Power wasn’t in attendance. Did He go to the wrong restaurant? Did He simply back away from the table and leave once he encountered our gathering? I don’t really blame Him. If I could have left, I would have too. We managed to get through the meal. As I recounted the evening, I was disappointed in myself. My intentions of being loving and kind, were apparently left at home. But, then I have to remember that I am human. Flawed. Perfectly imperfect. I also have to remind myself, that who she is now, isn’t the woman that raised me. There is grief in that, my friends.
There is comfort knowing that I am not alone. Many of us are caregivers to our parents. Struggling to keep our shit together. Trying to not take things personally. It isn’t easy. And, honestly, I might not be doing this gracefully, but, I am showing up. I am putting self-care into action. Sometimes I must limit my interactions with her in order to savor my serenity. It is a tough place to be. No one can ever prepare you for what happens as our parents age. It is a learning process and I just have to accept that this is our normal. This is where we are currently residing. While that is a hard pill to swallow, there is power in acceptance. Doesn’t mean I like it or that it is okay. It just means that I have surrendered the idea that I can change it.