Mother’s Day is this Sunday. For some moms, it can be a day of joy. For others, it brings up the pain due to the … 6 Things I Learned on Mother’s Day Read More


Mother’s Day is this Sunday.

For some moms, it can be a day of joy. For others, it brings up the pain due to the loss of their child or other struggles.

Rehab

Thirteen years ago, I sat filling out registration information in the reception area of a charming cottage-like home.

My mom was at my side.

“This is such a beautiful house,” she said as she looked around.

I felt a huge relief that my mom had no clue where she was. You see, my mom had been diagnosed with Alzheimer’s Disease. Her disease had progressed to the point where she needed constant care.

As badly as I had felt since my mom was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s, on that particular day, it was a blessing. I did not need to tell my mom that I had signed my daughter into a treatment center in southern California.

Also, this would be my daughter’s second time in rehab. This time, she went to a women’s program in two homes that were next door to each other. The adjoining backyards flowed into each other. The young women could quickly and easily gather for their group sessions.

I was nervous and uneasy that Mother’s Day. At the time, my mom lived about 15 minutes away from the treatment center. My daughter and I stayed at my mom’s home for a few days before she started her next treatment program. She had come from five weeks in a wilderness program and loved the comforts of a home.

Alzheimer’s Disease

Alzheimer’s Disease, like addiction, is devastating.

It robs a person of their life in every way. My mom lived until age 93. Towards the end, she could not walk or say anything coherent.

Spanish was her first language. She spoke a combination of both English and Spanish for several years as her mind deteriorated. In the end, she rarely spoke at all.

People often ask me if she recognized me. It was hard to know, which was painful.

During that time, I felt the effects of being part of the sandwich generation more than I can describe. I never expected mental health to be an issue with my family. Yet, I felt the effects when dealing with both my mom and daughter.

On Mother’s Day that year, I was “sandwiched” between two diseases, addiction and Alzheimer’s.

My daughter has since found recovery. She lives a much happier life today.

My mom passed away from her disease many years ago.

She seemed comfortable and didn’t have pain towards the end. She got through her days with help to care for her every need. Unfortunately, she lived with Alzheimer’s for about a decade

I used to stop by and see her sitting in her chair, so peaceful and often asleep. When she died, I felt as if we had lost her twice.

We could spare my mom the news that my daughter needed to go to rehab. It would have broken her heart. She wouldn’t have understood why her granddaughter had gotten caught up in drug use.

She would have asked many questions and felt the stigma and shame.

It sounds selfish, but the situation spared me the stress of explaining my daughter’s substance use to my mom.
My mother… she is beautiful, softened at the edges, and tempered with a spine of steel. I want to grow old and be like her.  ~ Jodi Picoult
What I’ve Learned this Mother’s Day

My mom’s disease, as well as the experience of my daughter’s addiction, reminds me that:

1. Life is short. Enjoy the small moments. As the years go by, the moments can feel fleeting before we’ve had time to appreciate them fully.

2. Know that Alzheimer’s, addiction, or any disease can change your life at a moment’s notice. You never know what is in store for you. Be grateful for each day of health that you do have.

3. Be ready for the detours. You plan. You expect. Yet, you never really know what life will throw your way. Allow your strength and wisdom to see you through.

4. If this is a bittersweet Mother’s Day for you, know there is hope. Life can get better. You can feel happier.

5. Appreciate your mother, father, or whoever had a hand in raising you. Most parents do the best they can. Love them for what they gave you. Forgive them for what they lacked.

6. Addiction brings shame, guilt, and a host of other emotions. Have self-compassion. Your child’s addiction is not your fault.

I received this poem one Mother’s Day from my son.

Kites

by Erma Bombeck

I see children as kites.

You spend a lifetime trying to get them off the ground. 

You run with them until you’re both breathless…they crash…

they hit the rooftop…you patch and comfort, adjust and teach.

You watch them lifted by the wind and assure them that someday they’ll fly. 

Finally, they are airborne, they need more string and you keep letting it out. 

But with each twist of the ball of twine, there is a sadness that goes with the joy.

The kite becomes more distant, and you know it won’t be long before that beautiful

creature will snap the lifeline that binds you together and will soar as it is meant to soar, free and alone. 

Only then do you know that your job is done.

Hope and Change

More than anything, you want to know that your children are soaring.

You want them to be happy, healthy, and productive.

Isn’t that what we all want. I hope your child can turn the corner and live a healthy life.

Allow happiness to fill your life.

You deserve it.

Here’s to our mothers. Here’s to all of us moms.

Live your life doing what brings you joy. Fill your life with love. Know that you are not alone.



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