This One Is About My Mom
I think about writing about my mom. But then I don't. My first instinct is not to. I think I am not brave enough. But something is calling me now. For when I picture time having passed and writing about her later on I feel this feeling that I am missing something. That there is significance in writing now. That the vulnerability that comes with this writing of passage is important. That I cannot miss this even though I do not know what this is.
Because the feelings are hard and because my mom will read this. And my dad, too. And while these words are an honoring, they are also words of challenge and frustration and this is hard to share.
This most recent need to write about my mom comes on the heels of my visit last week. The culmination of a week with my mom ending with my reading aloud to my dad the writing my sister and I wrote about him created a lacking feeling. That my mom needed a writing, too. That this was this something I had to do.
And so on the plane on the way home I started this. I wanted it to be a writing that was light and joyous and honored all the good that is my mom. But instead what came out was fast and raw and I knew that this early writing six days before a writing was due was necessary because I needed time to sit on this. To reread and revisit and rewrite if need be. This one. It is hard.
You see, my mom has a form of dementia that makes her lose words as the language center of her brains dies. As I write that sentence it autocorrects to worlds. Lose worlds. Appropriate as she is losing worlds, too.
For along with language comes the loss of comprehension. And the loss of knowing. Names lose their meaning. Friends become unrecognizable. Events fall away and moments drift by and often times she is not quite sure.
And this is hard. As her daughter. For along with the loss of all these things and more that I am sure I still don’t know there is an accentuation of those things that have always challenged me as her daughter.
And then, yesterday, I read this beginning of this writing to my husband. I started writing about my mom but don't really want to/am worried about sharing it/maybe I shouldn't I said to him. And then I read it to him and he said it is beautiful and you need to finish this.
So here I am.
Mother/daughter angst is hard to explain. Not in the general sense but in that intimate way where the smaller nuance of expression can turn a daughter's head around but from the outside really, what is the big deal. But as the daughter, standing in this daughter place, the challenges are there, the triggers continually happen, the actions and reactions find that familiar rhythm that is as old as I am.
This past week with my parents was a beautiful week. Being with them is necessary. And it is important. And it is filled with love and joy and fun. Lots of fun. And along with this it is filled with the hard fact that my mom is struggling. A lot. And I am, too.
I am usually a better version of myself when I am with her. I am patient. But it is a sad patience because it sits in this place of detachment. A necessary coping because without it I cannot stand in compassion and caring.
This past week the place I created to support and love my mom as she journeys through this awful disease abandoned me and I stood in the rawness of having to respond without my boundaries on full alert. And I behaved badly.
I could not disengage and I could not be kind. I heard the edge in my voice as I answered her questions and felt my body pull back as she sought to encircle me in love. And each time I saw this, in the moment that I was in this, I spoke small words to myself to step back and regroup and remember that this is not about me at all, really and so step up as the best of myself so I can be the best me for her. And then the next interaction would happen and I was deep in it again in that dark way that is so not fair to her because it is so not how I want to show up for her.
I thought I did not care. My coping of my lacking was to tell myself that this was ok. That I had closure and completeness. That the lack of an emotional connection with my mom being this elusive thing was just what it was and was ok.
But then, I as write this, I see that this is not true. That there is grief and loss in this. That the disconnect, whether in this most recent interaction of impatience and frustration or even in the more accepting dynamic of caring and nurturing, still is a detachment from my mom. And so a loss of mother.
I did not see this until just this moment.
My mother-in- law died in December and we had her memorial service in January. I wrote a piece about her and read it aloud at the service. And, as I walked up to share my words, I started to cry. This surprised me. I did not think I felt the loss of her until I was there, standing in the loss of her.
This feeling I have, right at this moment, writing this writing, this is that same surprise. That there is loss here. That I miss my mom. Even as she is still here with me.
It is important and it is good that I see this now. I hope I can hold on to this.
3/12/2018 11:37:46 am
3/12/2018 11:53:16 am
Tough to write, Liz, but well done! Savor the good moments; those are the ones you will recall. Resist focusing too much on the future; it will be what it will be and we can't control it. Keep on giving hugs and the love you so profoundly express to your parents. It will sustain you both.
3/12/2018 03:09:15 pm
Liz, that must have been difficult to write. It was beautiful and searing in a way. My Mom is 94, losing who she is, who she was, and it is tough. Your Mom is lucky to have such a wonderful and talented, loving daughter.
3/12/2018 04:03:56 pm
The caring, the love you demonstrate always and the emotions that go with it can at times get tangled up, at times have to be compartmentalized, rethought, regrouped by you and then....... continued.........as, I too had to learn, it is a cycle that goes from having a mom, relying on a mom, sharing with a mom, enjoying just being with a mom and then breathing through it all, recalling and remembering, and going through a life cycle change to daughter, caregiver and more.............smiling, crying and loving continues as you move forward...............articulating it all 'ain't' easy............hold on to the fun and joy of you and your family and enjoy each moment
3/12/2018 04:13:59 pm
Thank You for sharing.
3/12/2018 04:30:49 pm
3/13/2018 02:44:46 am
3/13/2018 06:33:58 am
Wonderfully said, thank you for digging deeply and sharing so eloquently. This is a gift.
3/13/2018 07:51:12 am
Beautifully worded. Hugs
3/15/2018 02:10:11 pm
You know my story with my folks and I find this, and you, truly inspiring.
3/17/2018 05:14:32 pm
So It has been a very LONG time since we have seen each other. Somehow the connection is now FB although I will certainly date myself by stating that I babysat you and your sisters more times then I can count. Our parents were super close friends and you are all were at my wedding. That being said, some how via FB I thought something was up with Alba. Lizzie your words are beautiful! Despite her health issues, I envy you that both your parents are still alive. Please hug them for me. Stay strong! She will know you are there.
3/24/2018 07:07:50 am
A beautiful tribute to your mother Elizabeth. I read this on BA50 and responded there as well. You're clearly not alone! Best wishes to you and your mom (and Dad!).
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Mother, Wife, Friend, Sister, Daughter, Dancer, Rower, Runner, Dog and Cat lover.