I’m in a funk today, and tears have come too readily several times. So unlike me. I went to see Mom yesterday, and once again, I cried all the way home. I’m not even sure why. She is really doing okay. Much better than any of us dreamed she would be doing in assisted living. I got there just in time to sit in on the last 15 minutes of her Bingo game. Mom looked up when I walked in, but barely acknowledged me as she continued to tap the corner of her bingo card. Evidently Bingo is serious business. I quietly grabbed an extra chair and just slid in beside her. As they continued to play the last few rounds, I looked around the room and took in the other residents — they too were “nose to card”, so I could observe them freely. Gray heads, feeble hands, canes, wheelchairs, walkers. Everything you’d expect in a senior home. All but two ladies were quiet and concentrating on their cards. Those two were playing their own cards as well as their neighbors, reaching over to point out B10, G59. They do this frequently and it irritates Mom. I hear about it later (several times). As I study these men and women, a sadness comes over me. Really? Is this where Mom fits in? Is this her peer group now? I struggle with accepting that. The game finishes, Mom jumps up, and as we walk out of the room, she says, ‘see all my loony friends? it’s a loony bin in here’. Sigh. I’m a little offended at her words, yet I know what I, myself, was thinking. I didn’t call them loony, but…
I spend a couple of hours upstairs with Mom in her apartment. She does do some repeating and I can see the short term memory lapses even in the brief time I’m there. I know she can’t live on her own anymore. I know she might not even want to — although she’d probably never admit it. I know she is in a good place. I just can’t get over how small her world has become. Can she really be happy? Can she be thriving in this environment? Does she get any stimulation from other residents?
As I’m driving back home, my thoughts go from Mom to my own girls, all grown now, the last one finishing up college this semester. I have 4 daughters. That’s right, all girls. Only one lives close to me; the others are scattered all over the country. Could this melancholy be connected more to them than my Mom? Maybe I’m a mess today because seeing Mom has just stirred up motherly emotions. Has Mom mothered enough? Have I? I am 25 years younger than my mom. 25 years… That isn’t a long time. And no guarantee of even that. My girls have been my whole life. And to be honest, I struggle at times finding my place without them under foot. They defined who I was: Mom. I know all the parenting books say we shouldn’t let that happen, but, well…
We are daughters by no volition of our own, but we enter motherhood, normally, by choice.
Yet we really have no idea what we are taking on.
Motherhood redefines us.
It changes everything.