It’s been a long time since I’ve been really mothered.
If only I could go back in time to my fifteen year-old self
and let her know how much I was going to miss it. Hmm…what would I have
done differently? That’s the thing about dementia and diagnoses like it, at a
certain point adult children and even spouses switch hats and move from "the
cared for” to "the carer”.
I was thinking about
this on Valentine’s Day of this year. My husband and I were babysitting our
granddaughter and brought her in for a visit with my mom. Watching my mom and
baby Grace connect through smiles and cooing and physical touch was such a
beautiful thing to see. There was no need for language or short term memory –
it was just a great grandmother and her great granddaughter sharing a few
moments. So precious! Watching mom in this "mothering” mode, reminded me of how
long it has been since I have felt like the daughter instead of the mother.
Looking back, I
remember the first moment I felt our roles begin to shift. Years ago, before my
father passed away, Dad had suffered a heart attack. We all rushed to the hospital
to visit. After a brief visit with Dad, we were led to a waiting area for some
information from the doctor. I was feeling small and frightened. Mom was
sitting on the arm of the couch. Needing to be comforted, I slid onto the sofa
beside her attempting to find her arm around my shoulder, but before I knew it,
Mom slid down onto the couch into my embrace. It hit me our roles were
changing. I was moving from comforted to comforter – from daughter to mother.
Sometimes I would love
to be the daughter again.
Even now after five years, it still crosses my mind to pick
up the phone to share good news with Mom when it happens. I still pause and
remember – "Oh ya, that can’t happen anymore.” When I am worried, when I need
some perspective or when I am just feeling small and vulnerable, how great it
would be to hear her say, "You’re doing great! It’s going to be ok. Everything
will work out. I’m praying for you. I am proud of you….and ….I love you.” I
miss that! I think for me that is the biggest loss I experience because of this
Yet, even still, it is an honour to be a comforter. It is a
role I willingly accept and would do again if needed. Fortunately, many substitute mothers have
found their way into my lives. I am blessed to have some very special women who
encourage, embrace and mother me a little! I doubt they even know how much they
mean to me.
At the end of our last visit, as I rose to leave mom, I
leaned over and kissed her on the cheek and said, "I love you Mom!” "I know you
do,” she said with a big grin. "I know you do!”
I had to smile as I walked away
thinking: "I know you do too Mom!”