I’ve been told that I’m “not quite right” and seem to have a broken brain-mouth filter. Embarrassing myself by saying things aloud (that others think quietly to themselves) occurs less often, yet, still to an extreme my grandmother would have exclaimed, “Lawdy mercy child! Use some sense.” At least with Twitter, Facebook and blogs I possess the ability to proofread and ponder before hitting Send or Enter.
As a child, Mama cringed when the pastor asked us children, “Are you afraid of anything?”
I exclaimed, “My Mama is afraid of rats in the chicken house. She screams like this….”
My parents rolled their eyes, shook their heads and covered their faces… for years to come. At 28, I gained 2 teenage stepsons and quickly learned that my empty threat of “If you two don’t stop it…” backfired with their exclamation, “Mommy, Mommy don’t beat us again.” When I said, “I am not your mother…” they rolled on the ground at the Grand Canyon National Park and screamed, “that’s not what the blood tests showed… why are you treating us this way?“ Crawling under a rock seemed like the best idea.
Then and now, I learned the practice of 3 P’s: Patience, Persistence and Pharmacology.
When the boys moved out of the house, my husband and I imagined an empty nest. Then, on February 4th, we moved my octegenarian mother-in-law in to live with us; she thinks we’re just visiting. She and I forged a blunt, reciprocal, respectful relationship after only a few…weeks.. and I found my breaking point. I highly recommend marriage counseling to anyone entering the caregiving process. Taking care of another human being in addition to your marriage is a labor of love. You must take care of yourselves and your marriage so that you can even entertain the idea of caring for another human being.
At the age of 85, my mother-in-law (aka Mother) says things that make me laugh. I also cringe the way that my late Mama (rest her soul) must have cringed when I told her secret fear of rats during the children’s sermon so long ago.
Last week, sitting at the ophthalmologist with my mother-in-law, an armed guard led a shackled convicted felon into the exam room and Mother mumbled, “convict” and I patted her hand. A few minutes later, I walked Mother to another exam room and the clinician said, “now, you be nice.“ Mother replied, “I’m nice. Where do you want me to sit?”
Dr. H walked into the examination room introduced himself and Mother turned on the charm. We feared she would say something about his skin color. Dr. H treated Mother like she was his only patient for the day. A few hours later, after Mother settled at home with a glass of water on her favorite sofa, she said, “Those people have to be perfect.”
I asked, “Which people?”
“Well, if they’re the ones I’m thinking of… black doctors. They worked so hard to get to where they are, they can’t afford to make mistakes.”
I replied, “Mother, did you mind seeing a black doctor? I see a black doctor and she’s wonderful.”
Mother said, “No, I don’t care what color they are. I thought segregation was stupid in the first place.”
We told her she would have to return for a follow-up visit and she said, “Never. But I guess it’s a sensible thing to do because I don’t have a death wish.”
In this world, some are blessed with their own children, either biological or adopted. I am blessed with 2 grown stepsons (yes, they made it to adulthood) and three godchildren by three different mothers and fathers. I am also blessed to care for those aging members of my family when necessary. They become my children. Each time I think my heart will break, a new seam is sewn by grace and I find my soul at peace.
So, the next time that you seem to be at your wits’ end by the comments of your own children, sew a seam and find your peace.