One of the toughest jobs in the world is being a mom. A mother’s job is 24 hours a day, seven days a week. As a part-time caregiver to my 95-year-old mother, I can say being a caregiver to the person that gave birth to you is equally and probably even tougher than being a mom. There is not a lot that can prepare one for all the physical changes and challenges that take place in an aging parent with Alzheimer’s. With your parent, you see regression. With a child you see progression. At some point, both the child and parent’s mental development are the same. They need help with getting dressed, toileting, eating and bathing. Take your eye off them for a minute and something will probably be destroyed.
My sisters and I have designated shifts with caring for our mother. To keep all of my siblings updated on how mom is doing each day, often during lunch or dinner, I would ask her to bless the food or say, Grace. I would record her praying and send that recording via text to all the siblings. Doing so would give them the opportunity to hear her and see how she was doing that day.
With Dementia and Alzheimer’s, my mother’s memory and cognitive skills just aren’t what they used to be. They continue to deteriorate over time. Even though mom’s ability to remember, problem solve, process new information, or contextualize what she reads, (and she reads everything) is diminishing, her ability to pray remains spot on. As a family, we agreed that we would not tell mom her firstborn, our eldest brother passed away. And we still have not.
Two days after he passed away, my mother’s prayer went like this. “Our father and our God thank you for this day. Heavenly Father we stop now to say thank you. Heavenly Father, we thank You for the children You gave me. In the name of Christ, bless them and keep them in Your arms. Bless this neighborhood, it belongs to You, it doesn’t belong to us, it belongs to you. In Jesus’ name, we thank You. Amen.”
That prayer brought me to my knees. Asking God to bless and watch over her children, was validation she still has eyes in the back of her head. In true mom fashion, it was as if she was telling us that in spite of my memory, I know what’s going on. So, I’m going to thank God for the son he gave me as well as all of my children.
While some may have planned to be a mom, most of us probably never planned to be caregivers for our moms. As a mother and caregiver, I can validate that both jobs are equally hard and yet so rewarding.
Each year, on the second Sunday in May, mothers are honored and celebrated. So, on days when those undescribed burdens, in my unwritten mommy job description that include patience and nurturing are running a little short, I will celebrate. I will celebrate the best gift God has bestowed on me. I will celebrate the time I have with my children. I will celebrate the time I have with my mother. Because the return on that investment of time is priceless.
Happy Mother’s Day.