Saturday, January 17, 2009

EPIPHANY

Four Generations - My mom is on the far right, my sister is next to her, then my daughter, grandson, and granddaughter.
I traveled to my mom's town this week to attend a funeral and ended up spending the night due to six inches of snow falling within a six-hour span of time. I love snow and don't really mind driving in it, but the roads were treacherous until the snow plows and salt trucks were out and about. I hadn't expected to be up there for two days, but I tried to make the best of it and was able to visit with my sisters, help with a family dinner after the funeral, and spend some quality time with my 85-year-old mother. I also worked in a visit with my good friend, Deanna.
Often when I'm returning from my mother's house, I experience mixed feelings about having been with her. She's not the easiest person to be with sometimes. On trips back to my home, I usually ponder the things she said and did while I was there and it sometimes feels as if I've packed up all her problems and taken them with me. By the time I get to my home, instead of feeling happy that I've had time with my mother, I feel drained and frustrated that I can't solve her problems. This time was different.
I wrote in another entry that my family and I have tried for years to give our mother things to be happy about but her happiness never seemed to last very long. During this particular visit, my mom was more upbeat. She actually hugged me and told me how much she appreciated all I do for her. I think that's the first time she'd ever said that to me and her words were uplifting. She seemed genuinely happy that I'd come to see her. Mom said, "I love my little home and I have everything I need". She truly did seem content to be there in the house where she'd lived for over fifty years and raised four children.
My mother's words echoed in my mind on the way home and I began to think perhaps my mother isn't all that unhappy with her station in life afterall. Those thoughts led to a "lightbulb" moment. All of a sudden I realized trying to make Mom happy had often been on my terms rather than hers. I'd never considered that things which brought joy to me might not always bring as much joy to her. That seems very simplistic and logical but I'd never thought in those terms. Through the years, I'd spent much time wondering what I could do or say to make Mom's life better and solve her problems. My family and I had done all sorts of things that we might have liked if someone had done them for us, but maybe Mom didn't want or need us to try to fix things for her.
I think I finally realized my mother is content with her life just as it is. I'm sure she'd choose to have some of her aches and pains relieved, but she seems at peace with herself and her surroundings. She can still drive short distances and care for herself and she doesn't have to answer to anyone. She sews lap robes for nursing homes and is able to cook for herself. She struggles with dementia so she needs help remembering appointments, medications, and many other things, but in general, she does well for a person her age.
I feel as if a burden has been lifted from my shoulders though I don't know why this visit was so revealing. I think I can finally stop worrying so much about making my mother happy. I want to think I've learned to be more patient with her and more accepting of the fact that she is exactly where she wants to be right now. We should all be so fortunate to feel content where we are in our lives.

2 comments:

Shellmo said...

It sounds like you have realized a moment of peace with your mother. It's funny, while reading your post - I was thinking about the things that I try to solve for my mom. My sister always tells me not to fall into the trap and that our mom will figure it out and ask for help if we need it. And that my mom mostly likes to vent - she's not looking for my solutions. Anyways - good post and it brought up some realizations for myself.

Kady said...

Hi Shelley - Yes I did. My mom likes to vent too, and I often think when she does, she wants me to do something about the things that bother her. Thus the frustration since nothing is ever "enough" to make her life better (in my sense of the word). Thanks for reading and posting. I love your comments!.....Kady