But it is incredibly hard for me to do so.
Part of the challenge comes from the fact that I'm juggling a huge number of projects with Power of Moms (creating webinars, recording podcasts, doing our weekly radio show, working with some new sponsors, re-doing our entire database system, creating new programs, gearing up for the New York Retreat, managing our board and content schedule, etc.). We have an amazing group of volunteers who support the site--which is WONDERFUL--and I know this is what I'm supposed to be doing right now, but there is still a ton of work that Saren and I need to do each week. It's a big job for us.
I also find this process hard because when I get down to the heart of the matter and talk about what's really going on in my life, it requires a substantial amount of time and emotional energy. (And isn't it easier to just say, "Everything's going great!"?)
Sometimes I wonder, "Why am I sharing so much of my life with other people? Who needs to know all this? Why can't I just talk with my husband about these kinds of things and call it good?"
But then I get answers like this in my mind--and I know they're from God:
- When I take the time to share my story, I am better able to see His hand in every part of it.
- When my children read what I write, it better shapes their understanding of our home and family--and our relationship with the Divine.
- When others read these things (even though I write them imperfectly), it helps them to know that God can bring peace and sweetness to their family lives, as well.
After that introduction, I feel like I should have something really profound or amazing to write. But that feels like too much pressure. Instead, I'm just going to tell a little more of my story:
We've been continuing our Thursday visits to see my mom. (For those who are new to this blog, she is in the last stages of Alzheimer's, and her memory is almost completely gone.)
I live for Thursdays. They are precious to me.
But I also dread them.
Every time I get my kids in the car and make the hour drive to Long Beach, I get incredibly anxious. I feel like I'm on my way to say goodbye to a part of my mother that most likely won't be there the next week. It's getting harder for her to complete a sentence. Our bathroom visits become more frequent and take longer. She keeps trying to chew her pills, and it's increasingly difficult for me to get her to swallow them.
I don't want to face those kinds of things.
But we keep going. And we do as much as we can to savor the happy moments.
As a special birthday outing for my mom (she's 78!), I took her and the children to Yogurtland:
Is that not the cutest smile you've ever seen?
And Alia captured this facial expression, which I love:
A lot of my time is spent just holding my mom and kissing her. Alia caught this little kiss with the camera:
And then she went into my dad's office and photographed a few images from the past (here are a couple):
I pack dinner for all of us each Thursday, and I try to bring things my mom can help prepare. When we had taco soup, I opened each can, and then my mom dumped the contents into a pot. When we had spaghetti and french bread, she helped spread the butter on the bread before we heated it. (Then after I put the tray of bread in the oven, I had to hide the rest of the butter because she kept picking it up and wandering around the kitchen trying to figure out where the bread had gone.)
When my mom offers the prayer at dinnertime, it is the cutest thing ever. A couple of weeks ago she said, "Dear Father, we are so grateful for this wonderful Easter time. And we pray that Thou wilt bless us so that things will just keep getting better and better and we can keep loving each other more and more."
We all smiled.
After dinner, we usually go down to the library. We know the names of all the people who work there now, and it's just a quick walk over the bridge.
Last Thursday, I found an "Amelia Bedelia" book. Those were my mom's favorites, and she read them to me all the time when I was little. We sat like this in the aisle of the children's section for a full 10 minutes while she read through most of the book. I savored every minute of it.
Then the library was closing, so we checked out our books (including Amelia Bedelia) and headed back across the bay to get my mom tucked in bed.
These are some "tuck in" pictures Alia took two weeks ago. I give my mom her bedtime medicines and then help her brush her teeth and change into her nightgown. Then my dad helps me get her into bed, and we put the sides up so she won't roll out. That's when I call my kids in to kiss her goodnight.
I usually kiss her at least 15 times . . .
and then she looks at me like this, and I just want to stay with her forever.
I can't even explain how much I love her and how sweet she is and how much this is breaking my heart.
I plead with the Lord every day to help me through this process and enable me to be strong--for my mom and my family--and for my own children.
And then He helps me to see how precious my current reality is.
Including the board games we love to play,
the random jump rope I find lying around the house,
the watercolors Grace made for our fridge,
and the cars . . .
Grace had a friend over last week. It was a rainy afternoon, and we spent a couple of hours painting one of her walls blue:
Then Alia and I painted one of her walls:
We sing together and laugh together. I listen to a lot of squabbling and try to teach my children to be nice. We clean the house on Saturday mornings and sweep the porch and wash the car. We read scriptures together before school, and I teach the older three piano lessons.
This is a beautiful life. And in the quiet moments, I realize that this process of losing my mama is binding me tighter and tighter to her--and to my own children.
And now it's time for me to close up my computer and go on living this story.
Thanks for being here with me.