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Tuesday, February 12, 2013

The Unseen Plan

I have watched as my Mother in law has become a shadow of her former self. I have heard her struggle with words, the thoughts just won't come. I have worried that this disease will someday take grasp of my husband, taking away the dream of our golden years together with grandchildren around us. I have seen her become fragile, childlike even. Her strong, independent, colder personality gone. This woman is warmer, kinder and more appreciative of my care as time ticks on. When I first met her I was hurt by her distance toward me. She didn't seem to want to connect. Mark was apologetic, I remember him calling her "a weird lady." Mark had a girlfriend before me that was very intelligent, in her masters program and obviously an independent woman. She was planning on pursuing a career before anything else. I  remember feeling like I was a disappointment to to Mark's Mom. Education was more important to her than it was to me. I had chosen to leave college to be a Nanny because that was where me heart was. My Mom was disappointed also that I left college, but knowing I was happy, she soon supported my dream of opening up an in home daycare. My Mom allowed me to run the daycare in her home, the sound of happy children filling what had been an empty house, once again. The children called her Grandma & for many of them she was. I worked long hours, but I loved my job, kids had always been who I wanted to be with. I love the way children are hopeful, full of life and promise. I loved caring for people's most precious gifts from God, knowing in my care they were safe and loved. It meant the world to me when friends or family would ask me to care for their children. In turn, I was also hurt when friends did not seek my care. I took it very personal, I knew I had chosen this career for just that purpose, to love and care for family and friend's children. I was helping to build self esteem, creativity and give children what every child deserves, a place that was fun, loving and kind. I wanted "my kids," the daycare kids, to enjoy their time with me. As the parents said goodbye, I wanted them to know that their children, although they would prefer being with a parent, were in good hands. I built relationships with families that to this day still exist. I have ex daycare children in their twenties and thirties who still connect with me. Watching them grow and become productive people in our society is a real kick. Some don't even remember their time with me, as they were too young to have memories of it, but their parents have kept me alive in their hearts. I worked with children because I knew that was where I belonged. Older people I did not feel I had a gift for. My grandparents were a different story, my Grandmother was one of my best friends. But as a younger person I found the end of life cycle very sad and hopeless. I could never imagine working with senior citizens. But here I am, my Mother in law is 85 years old and quit frankly declining. Her Parkinson's and dementia is taking it's toll on her aging body. She has been with my family for two and a half years. It is amazing to me that as a younger person I could have never imagined me as her caregiver but in many ways, it has come to me very naturally. Mostly because she is very childlike, she needs much care and encouragement. I have joked with her that I had always wanted a forth child, but I always dreamt my forth child would be a baby boy. I think the parallels of children and senior citizens are incredibly similar. I could not have seen this coming though, moving my mother in law in with us was truly a gift of heart. I knew my husband needed it, he needed her to be in my care because he knew I would go above and beyond for her. That was the biggest compliment of all, his trust in me to care for his aging Mom. When people ask me how we do it, how I do it, my answer is the same, because I love Mark and this is what he needed. He is loving and appreciative of my being here for his Mom. He knows she and I were never very close in the years we could have connected. The years Mark and I struggled, she barely reached out to help us. I never saw her try very hard to build relationships with any of our children. I remember feeling sad and disappointed at her lack of interest in especially Teale's life. But as time marches on, as she has become part of our immediate family, she has healed much of that pain I felt. Her connection with my beloved Teale is sweet and their abilities are very similar as Mom declines and Teale matures. There are even times Teale helps my Mother in law. The two of them can enjoy an American Girl Doll catalogue for over an hour, discussing the details of the dolls and what each of them likes. My heart has opened more to my Mother in law because hers has. No, she is no longer independent and strong. She no longer can  relieve some of our stress by helping us, that opportunity has passed. Really, we can no longer even have conversations to build our relationship. She is mostly stuck in silence but Gods plan has worked, we now have a love, that I will feel forever.

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