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Sunday, January 25, 2015

Challenging children

Last night I sat at the table in Golden Coral listening to my family filter in and out of the long table. This is my mother's favorite place to eat and my father likes to buy everyone's meal. It has become a family tradition over all of our birthdays, I turn 36 soon so as they made the long trip into Boise yesterday afternoon, I entertained them in my home with hot tea and stories of my husband said no one wanted to relax and kick back with me except my mother. She was also determined to go to Golden Coral, I helped her get seated in the busy crowded restraunt then I got her plate of meats, cutting it all up for her to eat with her one hand. I sat across from her chatting it up and so happy they all came to Boise! My young brothers are all much taller then me now, they love the buffet for endless choices were as I like going to places you stay seated, but after up and down, new plates and new napkins my mother was served most everything. I walked with her around the dessert counter explaining once I get her back to the table I can run back and get everything on her list. She liked that idea and shared how this June her cousins will be visiting so she wants to do a girls only weekend staying at a hotel with a hot tub in town. I told her all of that sounds like fun and I would go to help her shower or get in and out of the hot tub. She seemed super excited about planning this and most importantly she wants something to look forward to......I completely understand why she likes planning ahead, of seeing her old friends and family again. Yet something has been changing in my mother since her stroke, she has grown more and more frustrated with being paralyzed and feeling entitled to get what she wants no matter the actual situation or feelings of others around her. This entitlement is growing because we all feel sorry for her aftermath from her stroke, we serve her and do what she says as soon as we can because we all feel sad or guilty that we can do things she can't anymore.....suddenly the word "No." makes her fight back and become very stubborn, I've learned how to redirect without being bossy so I think it's why she likes me so much AND I am not around her 24/7 so we have healthy boundaries for the most part.....I am learning how to take her challenging ways to heart and come back with a better solution.  When my mother was young and healthy she loved babies and toddlers, she loved cuddling and nursing. Once her children grew more into being different from her then she panicked and took offense, she became alarmed over not sure what to do or say in trying to control and contain these challenges. I lived through all of it with her of course, it taught me how impossible it is to exactly the same. As a teenager I learned to keep my head down and shadow her instead of explaining my own thoughts on her many topics. She loved babies, she loved tiny fingers and toes while peacefully rocking away the afternoon in her arms. Then as those precious moments came and went, those babies grew into challenging children for her she would freak out, she would feel overwhelmed and helpless in what to do next......she never ever understood that children still need their mother just because they talk back. As a teenager when I disagreed with my mother she would pout and take it so personally like I didn't like her anymore saying things like "How could you!?!" or "I thought we were friends?!?!" I shake my head sadly at her power struggle over assuming these things when I simply said "I don't agree."   Instead of embrace a challenge or happily debating on all the reasons why we are at odds or taking different view points she would flop around in tears and panic. It cause a certain strain in our arriving adulthood friendship, I didn't run to comfort her anymore when she burst out crying saying "No one loves me anymore! No one needs me anymore!" because she did this reaction every single time her kids disagree with her. Since I was the oldest I saw this repetitive pattern in her for such a long time. If my mother burst out crying in front of other people I felt like a total asshole in not reacting to her, in not adding to her flare for drama. Sometimes people would glare at me exclaiming "You made your mother cry!?!?" I would nodded and shrug. THIS is exactly how my young brothers react right now to her antics, she doesn't cry as much as she use to but she does get mad, manipulating and demanding. Since I am older now I love my mother for all her differences from me, it all teaches me something new every time I am with her. She has become my biggest challenge, how do I love unconditionally and with no grudge? While still not giving into her every wimp or request?  How do I show her my life and my differences in hopes to give her new steps forward in her own? How do I live respectfully and get respect at the same time?  These are the questions I was left with last night after being with her among the rest of the family.....I am learning so much in these past years since her stroke, most importantly I have learned I am not the one to save the day, not the one who will better her life, she has to come to that choice on her own. I think she likes my flowers and my smiles, she can mirror my happiness when she is with me but I can't make our family better or closer anymore. The endless challenge for me is learn to let go and leave everyone alone. In the end all the beauty I see around me comes from growing up challenged and tested to know who I am completely, to THAT I can appreciate my family and simply let go.....

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