Before I had babies, the last diaper I changed was my mother’s. She entered hospice care when I was pregnant with my first daughter and passed away, almost two years later, when I was pregnant with my second daughter.
Despite the grief and struggle, taking care of my mom as her health declined through early onset Alzheimer’s disease prepared me for motherhood in ways I can only truly appreciate now, as a mother of two young children.
5 Things Alzheimer’s Taught Me about Motherhood
The last time I took my mother shopping, she tried to take off her pants in the middle of Wal-Mart. Before that, she attempted to escape from me in the checkout line at Bed, Bath, & Beyond. With that behavior as my embarrassment standard, I no longer expect perfection from my kids in public, much less at home.
I remember blowing up at my mom one time post-diagnosis when she stepped in dog poop in my backyard. I was angry that she wasn’t listening to my instructions but later realized she was doing the best she could, much like my young daughters. They may not be forgetting instructions, but they are still learning to follow them.
After my mother lost her ability to communicate in the late stages of Alzheimer’s disease, I wished that I had spent more time listening to her and letting her know how much I loved and appreciated her. After she died, I wished that I had spent more time sitting with her and holding her hand. I’m trying to remember that the days are long but the years are so short with my children.
I made mistakes in caregiving, just like I make mistakes in parenting. Learning to forgive myself and start over fresh again tomorrow was probably my greatest lesson. Grace is a powerful encouragement in defeat.
I would not have survived dementia caregiving without constantly expressing my gratitude to and reliance on a higher power. I know now that God is with me every step of the way in every challenge, including motherhood. He is the source of my strength, resilience, and love.
This post was originally published at The Mighty on June 28, 2019.
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