How was your holiday weekend? Mine was hectic but I lived through it. My spouse and I traveled to my mom's house (two hours one way) with Easter Breakfast Casserole, Cinnamon Coffee Cake, sliced ham and turkey, two kinds of cheese, and Razz Ma Tazz Bars in hand. (Recipes for the highlighted items are on the blog - just scroll down.) We also took along three huge bags of flannel fabric I'd bought for Mom so she could continue making lap robes for nursing home residents. It's not the trip itself that causes me to be tired and emotionally drained. It's all the preparation beforehand and the visit with my mother who, bless her heart, has dementia and a severe hearing loss. She seems to be in denial about both.
The trip up there and back was uneventful and actually a bit relaxing. Spouse drove and that allowed me to enjoy the view. I'd like to say I don't mind all the cooking and baking but the truth is, I'd love to go up to see my mom and not feel as if I have to fix food or do anything but go and visit. By the time I get dressed, prepare all the cats and the dog for the day, load the cooler, gather the extra things I need to take along (this time it was bags of fabric, Easter baskets, plastic eggs, candy, paper plates/napkins, and food coloring for dyeing eggs) I'm tired before I even hit the road. I don't remember the last time I went to Mom's without baking or cooking SOMEthing to take along. Many times I've prepared homemade freezer dinners for my mother. I always warn her ahead of time so she can make room for them. On most visits, I find her freezer full of ice cream and Cool Whip, with very little room left for the dinners.
While at Mom's, I'd love to help get the table meal-ready then sit down and visit a bit, but that rarely happens. I spend 99% of the time in the kitchen, on my feet, helping to prepare and serve the meals. After dinner I'm most often cleaning up the kitchen so Mom won't have to do it when we leave. I'm not always in there alone. My sisters help when they come and Mom does what she can. I certainly don't mind helping. I'm very willing to do what is needed. I'm just tired of things being the same for each gathering.
Spouse and I make the trip most years because we know Mom expects her family to come and we're all still trying to make her happy. I could opt out of going to her house but I have to live with myself and I don't want to have regrets when Mom is no longer with us. Having expressed that, I will also say that when we're at Mom's, the routines never vary. I no longer have illusions about what's going to happen there or how much "fun" I'll have.
I'm not sure what I really think should happen at Mom's. It would be nice if she'd make some dinner plans or help cook a meal once in awhile. Something simple and easy would be just fine. She cooked for us when we were kids, but as soon as I married, she stopped cooking and began to leave all holiday gathering plans up to my sisters and me. Dare I say we've been doing this for nearly 40 years?
Maybe I'd like to be as carefree as a child again at my mom's house. I don't need her to "mother" me, I just want her to take some responsibilty for something. The minute we step inside her door, she sits down. She's very willing to let me take care of everything. Perhaps my sisters and I would like to have someone else take care of everything once in awhile.
Holiday gatherings at Mom's are not calm and relaxing. Mom spends most of her time asking us the same questions over and over and fretting over one sister who has a difficult time making it to our gatherings. It's always the same story and we never know for sure if she's coming or not. During any given visit, we continually hear about the sister and her family who aren't there. I wish Mom would allow herself to appreciate those of us who faithfully make the effort to be with her, instead of crying and worrying over those who choose to not be there. The sad thing is, I know it's always going to be this way.