Who is the Parent??

“The son (daughter) went to his mother.

He picked her up and rocked her

back and forth, back and forth,

back and forth.

And he (she) sang this song:

I’ll love you forever,

I’ll like you for always,

As long as I’m living

my Mommy you’ll be.

This picture and quote is from Robert Munsch’s book, “Love You Forever”  (words in brackets are mine).

I’ve always thought this book was very profound but did not imagine that I would be living this book.  No, I am not actually rocking my Mom on my lap but as she gets sicker and weaker the roles have become less defined, much more blurred and obscure.  They are not black and white like I thrive on.  They are in some very uncomfortable grey area that I am struggling to deal with.  The last 3 years that Mom has lived with me I have slowly been taking on more and more of her care.  She used to make her own lunches, she used to do my dishes every evening, she used to go shopping with me.  Now she hardly eats, she lives basically on Glucerna – a meal replacement drink.  She doesn’t go downstairs now so the dishwasher she bought me does the dishes or Sandra our respite lady kindly keeps my kitchen clean.  Mom does not leave her little abode upstairs in my house.  She shuffles from her bedroom to her sitting room to the bathroom – back and forth between the three.  Everyone comes to her now.  Foot care, hair dressing, nurse, bloodwork etc etc.  Mom’s life has shriveled down to a very small world.  This past week she fell twice.  Now my world has suddenly become much smaller as well.  I do not leave her unattended anymore.  No more wandering for me.  I spend much time at my home rocking in my chair downstairs as she rocks away in her chair upstairs.  She sleeps a lot,  I am exhausted and I sleep a lot.  I do basically everything for her now.  I help her dress, I get her meals, I do her finances, I dole out her pills, I clean her clothes – every aspect of her care is in my hands.  Without me she is helpless.  She has been getting much weaker and after she fell this week she needed help getting into bed.  So every night I help her into bed, tuck her in and smother her with kisses and tell her I love her.  There is something wrong with this picture.  This picture does not compute in my brain.  Aren’t I the daughter??  Aren’t I the one that was tucked into bed every night?? I find this the strangest part of my taking care of her yet.  I can’t quite wrap my head around it.  Is this still my Mom?  Is she still in this frail, failing body?  I’m not used to being a parent.  I have never had kids of my own.  I don’t know what a parent feels like.  I don’t want to be a parent.  I want my MOM!  I want a parent.  I don’t want to be an orphan.  I want someone to rely on.  I want someone to look after me.  It is so comforting even when I object to what she is  saying when she tells me off.  She will tell me “Don’t buy anymore clothes.  You have too many clothes”  She will still offer advice like when she gives me ideas for my Summer Reading Program I am doing at my church.  And when I bought a really way out pair of boots she jokingly exclaimed “Are you really my daughter??”  Moments, glimpses, that is all I have now.  I have my Mom in moments and I see her in glimpses.  Like glancing sideways in a mirror.  Another way of looking at it.  A shadow.  There but not there.  For me as a parent it’s more like hours, days, weeks – not moments.  I am parent almost all the time.  But you know,  I am only a custodial parent.  A taking-care-of parent.  Mom bore me 58 years ago now.  My parenting is just a moment in the time-line of our life together.  No matter how hard this is to comprehend and accept I KNOW that this little shriveled up lady who struggles to even take one step in front of the other is STILL my MOM.  Will ALWAYS be my MOM.  And so as it is almost time to tuck her into bed for another night I repeat the words of Robert Munsch,

I’ll love you forever,

I’ll like you for always,

As long as I’m living

my Mommy you’ll be.          ( Goodnight Mommy, I love you! xxoo)

 

Things my Mother Taught Me!

When I was in my early 20’s I went up to Churchill in northern Manitoba, Canada to see the polar bears.  I was fortunate enough to see some polar bears but I really wanted to see a mother and her cubs but that did not happen.  I just may have to go back again!  Baby polar bear cubs stay with their mother for a couple of years during which time she teaches them all they need to know to survive in a rugged land.

I have been posting a number of quite emotionally heavy blogs lately so tonight I thought I would take a different approach and think about what my mother bear taught me over the years.

Don’t laugh, but the first thing that comes to mind is Mom always taught me to wear a slip under my skirts and dresses.  I hated those slips as they indeed slipped –  often below my dress making me look ridiculous.  I could not seem to get my dress and slip to coordinate and keep at the right length at the right time.  Since leggings have come into fashion I regularly wear leggings in place of a slip.  Thank goodness for whoever invented leggings!!

OK, so on a more serious note here are some things Mom taught me which I mostly value very much:

  1.  Never give up!!!
  2. Always do your best!
  3. Never be afraid to work hard.
  4. Life is not easy, you have to work for what you get.
  5. Never litter – EVER!
  6. Never plant any plants in your garden before the May 24th weekend.
  7. Take your vitamins ( which I am only now in my life starting to appreciate)
  8. That my faith has to be the most important thing in my life.
  9. That God is a good God and will be there for me.
  10. To always be grateful
  11. You can only wear one outfit at a time so you don’t need many clothes ( which I pay no heed to whatsoever!!)
  12. Family is VERY important
  13. To have some scotch in me ( translation: be frugal – which I also don’t heed very well)
  14. Don’t waste food.
  15. Always wash your fruits and vegetables before eating them.
  16. Take showers not baths.
  17. She made sure I knew she did not like anything with roses.
  18. If Mom didn’t like it you wouldn’t get it, even if you really, really wanted it.
  19. Don’t admit to weakness, depression, anxiety etc etc which I totally don’t follow
  20. Vitamins will cure anything ( which I don’t believe for a moment)
  21. Be very private ( OK, so writing these blogs just negates that one)
  22. Don’t embarrass your parents – EVER  ( but I seemed to do it all the time)
  23. Don’t be selfish ( I failed there too)
  24. Be kind to others
  25. Go out of your way to help others
  26. Turn out the lights when you are not in the room or using them.
  27. Don’t put darks in with lights when doing the wash.
  28. To not overextend your welcome
  29. Not blatantly but subtly that boys are worth more than girls. ( I try not to believe this)
  30. Not to ask for help outside of the family ( I ignored this most of my life)
  31. She taught me TO LOVE BOOKS!
  32. Did I say she taught me to LOVE BOOKS!   ( I had to do that twice)
  33. Don’t eat cookie dough.
  34. I can do anything I put my mind to.
  35. Use your stubbornness for good.
  36. Make lists
  37. Don’t waste paper
  38. Don’t walk outside at night ( being autistic I roamed a lot even in the night)
  39. Always – ALWAYS lock your doors.
  40. To love pictures – although we did not have the same taste
  41. To always take a picture at any family gathering
  42. To respect others and their belongings
  43. To never take anything that does not belong to you.
  44. To not lie
  45. To not swear
  46. And my grand finale – She taught me that if I ever wore a ring on my thumb she would disown me!  As I look down at my fingers on this keyboard, I am smiling as I see the ring on my thumb.  My rebelliousness coming out!!   She can’t disown me.  She lives in my house and I do everything for her.  I’m sure she is kidding.  It’s kind of a family joke.
  47. Well, I know there are many, many more things that my Mom taught me, some silly and some very profound.  I’m finished for tonight.  Maybe I’ll continue again another day.  It’s a good exercise to do.  It really makes you think where some of your beliefs and habits come from and are they worth holding onto.  It’s important to hold onto the things that you want to have as a legacy of your parents and it’s also important to see what you want to change in your life to be the person you want to be.  Sometime sit down and make a list like I did.  It can be a real eye-opener.