Thank you, everyone, for your support and encouragement over the past couple of days.
When I posted "The Best Way to Lose a Mom" on Wednesday, I was in a very hard place. I felt a bit nervous to share so many personal details in such a public way, but what I've discovered about this online world is that we're here to help each other. The more we're willing to share what's hard for us, the more we realize that we're not alone, and the less "hard" our lives feel.
So thank you for your comments, your Facebook messages, emails, text messages, and phone calls. You've helped me shift my perspective from "how to lose a mom" to "how to enjoy your mom." I can't even tell you how grateful I am to have you as my friends.
And now I want to give you a little report so you'll know how you've influenced my life.
Yesterday I took my children out to see my parents for a few hours. Your words kept ringing in my ears--to savor my time with my mom, to listen to her stories, to hold her, to kiss her, to involve my children, and to realize how precious our time is together.
So I did just that.
We got there in time for her physical therapy appointment, and I made some videos of the exercises so I can help my mom get into a good routine.
I then sat with my dad on the couch and asked him if he is doing okay. He insists that everything is fine, and he is quite honestly doing a phenomenal job keeping the house clean, doing all the laundry, cooking the meals, and giving my mom all her medicines, etc. It's a long list! I can tell he's tired, but he is so devoted to her, and I think that's inspiring.
We took a walk down Second Street with our dear friend Shirley and had so much fun tasting foods from the various restaurants there. (They do a "Stroll and Savor" two days a month during the summer, and it is fantastic. If you get the chance, you must go.)
|These boys are always running!|
|You buy $10 coupon books there, and then you can sample items from the restaurants for $1.50 - $3. It's great.|
At times, my mom would say things like, "Tell me the names of your children again." or "I think I left my car parked on the other side of the city." But overall, she was happy as long as my dad was holding her hand.
The sweetest part of the visit was right before we left. I brought out a new tub transfer bench to help make bath time easier. My children settled down to watch a show on TV while I wheeled my mom into the bathroom, helped her undress, slid her feet into the tub, scrubbed her body with a soapy-warm washcloth, and shampooed her hair.
That was the second time I've bathed her, and I'm surprised at how much it feels like the hundreds of times I've given my own children baths.
She was so appreciative through the entire process, saying things like, "Oh, thank you! It feels so good to be clean. My sweet April, you make my life so happy."
When my mom was a little girl and her daddy would get her out of the bathtub, he would say, "Under the wing! Tickle, tickle, tickle!" when he dried under each of her arms.
My mom always did the same to me.
And yesterday, I did that to her.
While I was saying, "Tickle, tickle, tickle!" and helping my mom get dry and warm, I can't even tell you how privileged I felt to be doing such a simple, physical act of service for my mother. It was just a little thing, and I know my family members who live closer do so much more, but as I stood there in the bathroom, dressing my mom in her nightgown, helping her brush her teeth, and rubbing sweet-smelling lotion on her arms and neck, I thought to myself, "There is nothing in the entire world I would rather be doing right now."
Part of my emotional turmoil lately has been trying to decide where to invest my time. Power of Moms is growing amazingly well. We had hundreds of thousands of visitors last month, we have two books being published right now, our volunteer board is growing, and there are so many opportunities to do media appearances, Retreats, collaborative projects, and tons of other details I won't even try to record.
I'm still moving steadily on these projects, but taking a day a week to be with my mom and dad and slowing my life down so that I have time to enjoy my husband and children feels right on every single level.
As my children and I tucked Mom in bed last night, she said, "Now I'm going to make pancakes and waffles for you tomorrow morning for breakfast. What time do you want to eat?"
Knowing we were heading home--already way too late, but wanting to play along, I replied, "Oh, about nine."
"All right, nine o'clock it is. Maybe the children can pick some dandelions or flowers you can spare from your garden, and we can put them in a vase on the table. I'll lay out a nice tablecloth, and we'll have so much fun together!"
We kissed her cheeks, told her that sounded fabulous, and then slowly crept out to the car so she wouldn't know we were gone. She won't remember these plans in the morning, but we will make it happen as soon as possible.
This time with my family is "my deeper yes".
This is the life I know I'm supposed to live.
Not a single day is easy, but I feel a sense of purpose and meaning that honestly makes life a joy.
Thank you for all of your help and support. Love to all of you--especially as you're going through your own unique challenges. Maybe you don't feel comfortable sharing yours as openly right now, but I hope you know that you absolutely are not alone.