Summer is here and I've been absent from my blog again. I've been trying to keep a steady balance of keeping the kids busy, helping with my mom (and filling in for caregivers who are gone, including my dad!), working for The DEANA Foundation, keeping up on household responsibilities (a never ending and all consuming task), running to and from swim practice and meets, and working on my new "calling" for church. Oh, and did I mention that my niece-daughter is getting married next month? Yes, I've been planning a wedding as well. My plate is definitely full but those of you who know me, know that I wouldn't have it any other way. At least I never have time to be bored! ;)
A couple of years ago, when I started my Mondays with mom, I wasn't very excited about bringing my kids along with me during their summer break. I was worried that they would be bored or complain about having to give up parts of their vacation to come and sit with grandma. Oh how my perspective has changed! It's true that we've had to turn down some play groups in order to keep our commitment to being with mom on Monday. And I'm sure there are other places they'd rather be. Don't get me wrong-if it were a perfect world, my mom wouldn't be suffering with this horrid disease and, consequently, we wouldn't be spending every Monday caring for her. Rather, we would be planning fun summer outings with her! But over the past couple of years, I have learned to appreciate and value the time that we spend here with her. There are definitely days when they get bored and drive me nuts. But even they are learning to appreciate that Mondays are the day we take care of grandma.
My daughter, Aubrey, is a very compassionate soul. Many people know her feisty, spirited side but don't always get to know this loving, sweet side of her, which I adore. Oftentimes I overhear her talking to her brothers about how much grandma loved them, how she used to be so excited to be a grandma (sentiments that I've shared with her). I hear her and her brothers wishing away the dementia. Sometimes, she will be the leader in picking a chore to help grandpa around his house (not sure if he ever notices).
Lately, I've been observing Aubrey's interactions with my mom and it warms my heart. Every time we come over, she now tells grandma "hi" and gives her hugs. My mom never hugs her back or responds (unless it is to brush her away) but Aubrey understands that it is the disease causing her to behave that way. I encourage her to keep on hugging grandma and telling her she loves her anyway. My boys are not quite as affectionate as my girl, but now and then they will follow big sister's example and give grandma hugs and "I love you's."
This morning, I went into my mom's rom and lay beside her on her bed. I often do this; she usually hides from me underneath her sheet and begins rambling about how dad doesn't support her with money and credit cards, followed by promptings for me to leave her room because,
"You can't see me napping."
I let her ramble. I just like to be next to her. I know everyone says she's not my mom anymore; that the person she once was is gone. And I'm not in denial about it. Yet, sometimes it gives me comfort to just lie beside her and hug her. Sometimes she will push me away, other times she will laugh at me, and many times she will simply ignore my affections altogether. Today, while I was laying beside her, my sweet daughter came into the room and mimicked what I was doing. She laid down next to grandma and gave her a big hug, saying,
"I love you grandma."
For the next little while, we sat beside my mom, giving her hugs and listening to her ramble; Aubrey repeating her "I love you's."
There are many times when I feel like I am messing up on this whole parenting thing. But moments like these, when I see the love my children have developed for their grandma, despite their lack of knowing the "real" grandma, warms my heart and gives me encouragement. I'd give anything to have my mom back; since that isn't going to happen, I continue to look for the opportunities to teach my kids of love, service and compassion. I can't think of a better way to spend our Mondays!