Taking care of my kids is a full time job. Even if I’m at work, teaching other people’s children, my mind is racing and planning the next swim lesson, soccer game, therapy appointment or class party for my own two boys. It is a wonderfully exhausting and deliciously exhilirating thing, this mothering business. And for the most part, I feel like I at least think I know what I’m doing.
But for the last two weeks, I have added one post-stroke grandmother to the mix and suddenly I am turned upside down and inside out. Now, it is not because I am afraid of some hard work. Bring It On. I love being busy and I love the feeling I get when I am able to complete a number of projects and chores. People, I was raised by Polish parents. We did not watch Saturday morning cartoons. We scrubbed toilets and dusted furniture.
Caring for my beloved grandmother brought on a whole new slew of emotions and a whole new level of exhaustion. There is no room or time to be squemish. There is only the deep desire to make this matriarch of our family feel safe and respected. So, everytime I helped her shower, or pee, or scrubbed her dentures or cleaned the potty she has next to her bed for night time……..I thought about how I would want to be treated in this situation. How I would want to know that I was worth the work and that the people helping me weren’t sitting around wishing someone else was doing it.
But things go through your head.
And I saw an impatient and annoying side of me that I did not like very much. But I had to deal with that person. I had to look in the mirror and let myself feel the ugly feelings and then will them to go away. I did not want to ignore them; they would find their way back anyway, bigger and stronger and uglier. And it was so humbling to care for someone that used to be so damn independent. And it was sad. And it was exhausting.
And it makes you face some pretty unpleasant and scary things about life and yourself and the uncertainty of the future. It makes you think.
It slowed me down. It inconvenienced me. It made me stronger. It made me cry. It made me grumpy. It made me brave.
She was and still is totally worth it.