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An elder care roadmap & observations from the journey
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Less Expectations


A very lovely relative of mine makes the long drive several times a year to visit my Mom. I'm always happy to hear she is coming - even though I'm not usually there to participate. It feels so right to know people who really "know" the whole Mom are spending time with her, that she is remembered and not totally lost. Her emails and conversations with me before and after her visits are always so encouraging. After this time, she writes, "As always, I enjoyed the visit. And keep one thing in mind - it's much easier for me than for any of her children, since I come with no expectations, and no hurt if she doesn't know me or doesn't engage. I do fully "get" that piece!" 

She so nailed it! Even when we love them, even when the visits are going well, even when there is not a crisis, visiting is hard for children and spouses. It's why I seem to be able to finish every single dish in the sink, fold every towel in the dryer and reply to the most redundant email before I can get myself out the door to see her some days. (And some days are better than others as you know.) It hurts to see her live like this. It hurts to lose your mother a little more every day. No matter how deeply I bury them, mask them or rationalize them away, I too have expectations of my Mom. I so want to be known, engaged, loved, mothered and remembered. The loss lives every day under the surface, even when I don't acknowledge it. But, Mom and I do have good visits most of the time but the best ones happen when I too come with only one expectation and that is to make a connection.

Some days those connections are more complete than others. Some days that connection is full conversations, laughing, dancing and singing. Other days, it is simply the knowledge that we held hands and that possibly I was able to bring a little comfort and dignity to her on a difficult day. Those connections, no matter how difficult are a beautiful gift for which I am truly grateful.

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