There’s nothing you can throw at me
That I haven’t already heard
I’m just trying to find a decent melody
A song that I can sing in my own company
I’ve spent the past several days contemplating shutting down this blog, or at the very least, rebranding it to be less about caregiving. Why? Because it was recently suggested to me that perhaps I’m not the best person to be taking care of my mother, the rationale in large part due to what I post in this blog. Because my posts are about the challenges of taking care of someone with dementia, and those challenges rarely involve rainbows, puppies, or unicorns.
News flash—taking care of someone with dementia 24/7 IS HARD. I never thought it would be easy. And although I’ve never had kids, and may be talking out of my ass, it’s not like raising normal, healthy children. Children grow, and learn, and develop, and improve, and become independent of you. The best that can be hoped for a person with dementia is homeostasis. The worst, of course, is decline and complete dependence.
You Deal The Cards You Are Given
I take great inspiration from a friend of mine who has an adult daughter with special needs. She and her husband had agreed to not have children, so the pregnancy was unplanned. Everything seemed fine until their daughter was born. The doctor said the baby might never walk or talk (he was wrong) and suggested institutionalization.
My friend was horrified and appalled. No, she had not planned on having a child, and yes, she had hoped for a healthy child. But she loved her child, nonetheless, and although their lives would not be what they had planned, that they might be difficult at times, they were not about to turn away from the promise they made by being her parents. They have raised a daughter who is one of the purest souls I have ever encountered. They make it look easy, but I know it hasn’t been.
It’s Not About What Is Easy—It’s About What Is Right
I made a promise to Mom. I made a pledge. I would take care of her, and I would never put her in a home. I don’t break my promises, even if things get rough. I never in a million years thought she would need me because of dementia, and I’ll be the first to admit that I was woefully prepared for what that means. But I will play this hand the best I can because she is my mother.
Because we have always had a strong bond. We’ve vacationed together, three times in Italy alone. For fifteen years she came to stay with me for months at a time almost every year. She came to work with me, and bonded with my staff, who called her Mom. When I was on Midway, she managed my finances for me. She has been the one constant in my life. The one person who I have always trusted, and who I know trusts me and loves me unconditionally. If it hadn’t been for her, I would not have gone to college, would likely never have left my hometown, would never have set foot on Midway, or rode on the back of a motorcycle across the Golden Gate Bridge, or anything else that my life has been. I owe everything that I am to her.
I Got Your Fairy Dust Right Here, Pal
So, although I thought for a second that maybe I should just keep my mouth shut, keep my head down, and sprinkle fairy dust, I’m not going to do that. Because Mom raised me better. She never gave up on me. She always believed in me. She always made me believe that there was nothing I couldn’t succeed at. She raised me to be honorable. She raised me to a realist. Yes, this is hard. No, I’m not perfect. Yes, some days just suck. But most don’t. And she would have done the same for me if the tables were turned.