Wellll, how’s everyone doing? Over it? Since we last talked, the whole world has turned upside down. I mean, what the what? The list of topics I could write about is endless. What I am finding hard to do is to pick one. This time will be embedded in our family’s history, for sure! Instead of talking about the wine I am drinking, the bad and good days, the homeschool schedule I have formed, recipes, gloves, mask and six feet or ways to stay sane, I will circle back to my mom and how her transition has shined a new light on my current situation.
We moved Mom on March 9th, 2020. For many reasons, it was of the worst day of my life to date. She was all I could think about; I cried and cried. I drowned in heartache, loss, and indecision. The following days faired only slightly better. To say the first ten days were rough is to put it mildly. With societal life-changing daily, there was no way to predict what was going to happen with her care or our original family plan. We are 6+ weeks out and we have not been able to see her since mid-March and there is no end in sight for that to change. Rough - is an understatement. To answer some quick questions that I am sure you are wondering:
No, she has no idea what is happening with Covid19 – she would not understand, so we are not telling her about it.
No, there is no private care or visitors allowed for the whole facility.
No resident has it, yet.
They are trying to social distance, which for a bunch of dementia patients that don’t even know what day of the week it is, it is a total joke.
Dad is doing fine. He bought a black lab and is living at our family farm.
We all just miss her and need a hug from our mom.
Overall, she is doing well. Sleeping and setting a sleeping routine is difficult.
There are good days and bad days, but she is doing ok and is safe.
The thing is, she doesn’t remember March 9th. Which brings me to my point of this post. I was talking to an OT that has been working with our family from Memory Care Solutions and she said, “Don’t forget, your mom lives in the moment. What is important to her is what is happening right that second… She can’t remember the immediate past or have the brain capabilities to think into the future…” She went on to talk about how she just needs to feel loved and have a sense of safety, and she will be fine.
As I sit every night, wine glass in hand, trying to figure out what the F is going on right now in our world, our city, our community, and our home, I keep coming back to my mom and how she currently is living life. And even though she is mentally regressing every day, she is still able to teach me something about how to live.
Things are shifting in the country by the hour. Regulations, laws, health, food, school, everything that was once so stable and dependable is racing through a life-size hourglass, and I am just standing at the bottom with a teaspoon hoping to catch my fill.
For mom, she can’t remember what happened yesterday, at least on a conscious level. She looks around and sees smiling faces, gets fed and has activities that keep her brain engaged. She is excited to hear from us on the phone or FaceTime and then forgets that we called the minute we hang up.
Yet I am continually fretting. Is she sleeping, is she happy, is she doing ok, did they give her medications, and the list goes on. Still she is living in the here and now, and that is it. Man, do I need to be more like that.
As I “shelter in place” and add teacher to my every growing resume, (P.S. I could never really be a teacher; it is too hard and they 100% don’t make enough money.) I have thought a ton about all different life topics. One of which I am learning firsthand from my mom - to live more in the moment.
Everything has stopped, well at least a lot of the “stuff” we used to run ourselves ragged for has stopped. The afterschool shit that we would race our kids too. The games, practices, lessons, the stores, meetings, coffees, volunteering, the parties, dinners, dates, and gatherings. If it is outside our primary need, it stopped.
“So, you’re saying, I don’t need to take my kid to 9,000 basketball practices for them to be happy and get into college. So, you mean I don’t have to keep up with the Jones to feel like I belong. So, you mean, I have to teach my kid a life skill to survive this week. So, you mean I have to stop, like stop - stop.”
Now don’t get me wrong, this “stopping” is having massive effects on the economy and people’s livelihood. In no way do I want to downplay the severity of the situation. Truly this situation has devastating consequences. It is also shining the light on heroes of a whole other kind. However, if we peel the onion back and look around, are we learning from this situation on a micro level? On a personal, hour by hour level, are we trying to grasp what we can from the lesson right in front of us? Or are still hung up in the past or praying for the future to happen tomorrow?
Can we live more like my mom and live in the now? When the anxiety and stress of trying to teach our kids, clean our house, work, cook, exercise, stay connected, etc. builds up in us during the day to the point of explosion; can we take a deep breath and let it go?
Who gives a shit in that precise moment if your kid got the worksheet right? Or read the chapter they were supposed to? Or if you had PBJs for dinner and drank wine in your PJs (rocking that one, BTW.) Who is judging you? I sure as hell am not. You’re not going out to see anyone. You’re not at a cocktail party talking about how great your kid is at XYZ.
Then why are we (I) getting so worked up about it? Because I am still living like I used to. I still have the ideals of 3,5,8 weeks ago. I need to let go. I need to live more in the moment and enjoy being with my girls and having my husband home to have lunch with us. I need to find a balance between what my kids are doing for school and home life. Not one single person I know has a guide for this. Why am I holding myself to a standard that is floating out in social media space? There is no standard, none of us have ever done this before, how could there be a standard?
As week 8,000 of remote learning comes to an end, I turn back to my mom and how she currently lives and how I need to emulate that more in the weeks ahead. Will I be forever changed from this quarantine? I hope so. I hope that at 42 I am still capable of learning a life lesson. As this new way of life starts to get “old” can I be recharged? I know it won’t last forever. It will end and I will never get this time back. Of course, it will be a glorious day when I don’t have to wear my mask and gloves and wipe down the groceries. However, will I remember these moments of simplicity? Will I continue to live in the moment and not let the “stuff” creep back in? I hope so. As I pray now for strength on the hard days; five years from now I hope I pray for the strength to stand strong and say no to the added “stuff” my family really doesn’t need.
I am writing this to challenge myself to learn from my mom. To live in the moment more than I ever have. To cherish this time, even when I feel overwhelmed and frustrated. Savor the simplicity of things and this time at home. Be ok with not getting it all done in a day, because tomorrow will come, and no one is watching, no one is judging. Only you are judging you. Be nice people; you deserve it.
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