This year we know that many people may be spending Mother’s Day apart from their families when they would otherwise have been together. If you can’t be with your mother today, perhaps following in Andrew’s footsteps and writing a journal entry or a letter to them will bring some comfort. If you’d like to send your letter our way, we’ll share them on our social media so that others who are spending Mother’s Day apart this year know that they’re not alone.
What is Mother’s Day? I believe it defines a day to express how much our mothers mean to us. To express our love and respect.
But, what is love and respect?
Love for me is to have an open heart and mind for another person unconditionally. Respect for me is to accept another person for who they are without judgment.
It can be easy to love and respect, but how easy is it really to be unconditional and without judgment?
This question stands in the bigger picture of everyday life, and more specifically I found the biggest hurdle to first be aware of and then to overcome, when caring for my mum, now living with dementia.
As a son or daughter, you grow and develop with your parent as the authority figure who teaches and guides you!
What now when that personality fades into the shadows? When the role becomes reversed, who guides and encourages you, now?
We, or more specifically, we in the western world, do not expect to be the carer for a parent, let alone your mum, as there is something about mums, where you simply expect they will always be there to care for you.
The journey of becoming a carer, when not your occupation, is one that does not come with a phased training plan, or start date, I simply suddenly realised one day, I am, a carer.
Caring for my mum has raised many doubts, fears and frustrations; in myself, with family and authorities. But what is frustration if not an expression of anger and the emotion generated by change, apparently out of my control, and being out of my control was moving toward the unknown and the unknown with no control did not feel a safe place to be.
So, all of my frustrations were and are my frustrations. The root of which comes from feeling unsafe, out of control and surrounded by change; and what can I do?
I talk, I share and seek information to be informed, talk with fellow carers, ask every figure of authority I meet on the journey to diagnosis and beyond, what help is there? Who can offer me more information?
At first, as a carer I found it my default to compare how mum is today to how she once was, to judge her by the standards she once upheld. These expectations did once serve a purpose, but today they do not. I am learning to let go of expectations and stop comparing then to now, but I am only human. I have learnt mindfulness which is helpful for me, and for me as a carer, it has reminded me to be present each moment, and simply be there for mum, while remembering I matter too.
Any change begins from awareness, and this is me sharing with you, perhaps you already know, and if you do not, then take forward all that you feel is helpful, and most importantly you are not alone.
Remember to be mindful, to love unconditionally and respect without judgment.
Journaling is a process that helps empty thoughts from my head on days when it is needed, and today for mother’s day, this is my entry:
Happy Mother’s Day.
I think once I was your son, and today I am your carer, but I am still your son! Can both be one?
As your son, through the ages, I followed your lead, your guidance and wisdom and looked upon you as the one who always knew what to do. I accepted your authority to correct me and define right from wrong, good from bad.
As your carer I am conflicted, no one tells me how to be, what to do, what is right and wrong, good and bad, who do I look to now? … then, I remember as your son you taught me, without a manual or training. I am not perfect and have made mistakes, but I am doing my best, as once you did too.
At times I see you there, my mum, glimpses, sometimes fleeting, and yet you are there mum.
Today all I can promise is to be what I need to be, at this moment of this day and each moment of every day. Your carer, your son and always your caring son.
Mum, Happy Mother’s Day
Your Loving, Caring Son