My Mother Will Always Be Mommy to Me
"A mother's love is so special
It's something you can't describe
Until the day you die"
- The Intruders
My mother is a woman of great strength, resolve and dignity. For almost 20 years, she has lived with a chronic disease that causes debilitating pain on a daily basis and over the last two years she has been frequently hospitalized as a result of her illness. However, she has vowed not to let the her disease keep her from living her life. She worked full-time, despite my pleas to take it easy, and finally left for disability only after her ability to work was seriously hindered because of frequent hospitalizations and sickness. The timing could not have been better. Her forced "retirement" came a month before my son was born. This enabled her to travel to Atlanta to visit her newborn and only grandchild for a month, fully enjoying her new role as Grandma. As a new mom, having my mother by my side to share her knowledge of baby rearing was invaluable.
It was clear that spending time with her grandchild helped my mother to temporarily forget her daily pain. Being a grandma had positive effects on her health, and she began to regularly visit us in Atlanta. We began making plans for her to move to Atlanta -- it seemed like a perfect solution, she could be spend more time with us and I could maintain a careful eye on her health. Despite our best efforts, it became clear that moving to Atlanta would not be in her best interest. The doctors who are fully versed regarding her condition are in New York, and she was participating in clinical trials that required her to stay in the North.
I also had to face the reality that my mother could not live alone, and that the management of her disease, a new baby and attempting to find a new home where we could all reside while juggling a full-time position would not be feasible for me. We frequently visited each other, and when I traveled for work, my mother would volunteer to take care of my son. My husband and I find it difficult to live far away from our families, but my mom always wants to pitch in. Unfortunately, her disease sometimes keeps her from visiting. Several of her trips were canceled because of hospitalization or lack of clearance from her doctors for travel.
At the beginning of December, she was again hospitalized for respiratory issues and was released two weeks before Christmas. My son and I flew up to spend the holidays with her, and when I arrived it was clear that despite her reassurances on the phone, she was clearly more ill than she let on. The Monday before Christmas she was told to return to the hospital, but she refused. She did not want to spend Christmas in the hospital away from her family and her grandson. On Christmas Eve, she watched my son and I lay out cookies and milk for Santa and carrots for the reindeer. The joy emanating from her as she watched her grandson enjoy Christmas rituals was palatable. In the morning she shared in my son's glee as he tore open the gifts that Santa left lovingly under the tree. She kept up appearances for him, but she was extraordinarily ill. She did not accompany us to her brother's home for Christmas dinner and when we returned several hours later, her condition had not improved.
My aunt convinced her to go to the hospital, and late Christmas night she was once again admitted. During our last three days in New York, my son frequently asked for his grandmother, and we recorded a video for her to enjoy while she was at the "doctor." She remained in the hospital for eight days, and was released two days prior to her departure for Atlanta. My mother is a trooper, and having missed time with her grandson, she was not going to let anything keep her away from him. She convalesced for a day and then she and I went to the hair salon for some much-needed pampering. I departed the next day for a weekend trip to Los Angeles, leaving her in the care of my husband and son.
This evening I returned home, and all is well. She is still resting comfortably and hanging out with her grandson has kept her spirits lifted. She will remain here for another week, and I predict the recuperative powers of an active, precocious two and a half year old will do wonders for her health. Tonight we tried to explain our relationship to my son -- I'm his mommy and her daughter, she is my mommy and I am his mommy. I believe, after the tenth iteration, it finally sunk in. As my mother and I both age and contend with her illness, our roles may change and we will mother each other. However, no matter how old I am, my mother will always be mommy to me.
Renee aka Cutie Booty Cakes is a BlogHer Mommy and Family Contributing Editor. She also writes a personal blog, Cutie Booty Cakes where she chronicles all of the interesting things that happen in her far from ordinary life.
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