I was reading Stephanie’s Blog, My Life as a Pancreas her post Power of a Great Friend sort of made me think and realize I’d better be doin’ some posting on the woman who has jumped in up to her eyeballs for my daughter, and the rest of this family!
I am an only child. Sometimes an only lonely child, and I have for the most part leaned on my parents throughout the years for support in many different ways. Sometimes innocently…sometimes in somewhat trying times…I’ll leave the details out of course and just say I’ve taken my time growing up (nice way to put it). I didn’t go to college until I was 26 and I didn’t get married until I was 30. I did not start having children until I was 32. So both of my parents put all their eggs in one basket (pun intended) and it’s been a bit trying over the years for all involved.
My mother worked a hard, labor intensive job while I was growing up. Many, many hours in a factory on rotating shifts. She was tired a lot (for good reason) and the rotating shifts meant we (my father and I) had to be aware and considerate of my mothers sleep schedule and adjust our lives to it. This didn’t impact me much looking back really. I don’t remember being mad about it or wishing she just worked a regular ol’ job. My father and I were close when I was young and then again in my 20’s. My teen years were not much to be desired by anyone on this planet, let alone my parents! But I will say, even when my father and I were like two peas in a pod, I knew if the “water ever boiled over” my mother was gonna save me. As a lot of mom’s already know, I spent a lot of my days deciding my mother just never understood me…only to now know that I never understood her. So goes the cycle and I would guess it’s for good reason this cycle continues for moms and daughters.
My mother decided when I became pregnant with Jack (now 1) that she would retire early and become my full-time daycare person. I believe her reason was at least two-fold. First, the factory job that she had worked at for 30+ years, through hard times and good had run its course. She was the second woman hired on in that plant and the first woman to climb the ladder to management. This climb was not without a lot of pain and the end result of all her hard work and endurance for the environment was not going to be appreciated or celebrated as it should have been. So it was timing, sort of. Second, my mom loves me, she loves Ellie and she knew she was going to love the new baby when he arrived. Ray and I are not wealthy people, we are not poor (at least we don’t think) but we have what we need plus a little to get by. Having a second child and paying for two in daycare would have been a little more of a financial challenge than I think we were grasping. We would have made it, but it would not have been pretty. My mother knew this. She offered to take care of our children, 2 for the price of 1.
I had concerns. First, it had been 35 years since my mother had raised a baby. She and Ellie were already little love birds, Mema and Ellie love. But she only had one child, I had only had one child so far. Neither one of us knew what the heck to expect with 2? My mother is tough…but kids are tough…relentlessly tough sometimes…did she REALLY know what she was getting herself into? Did my mother and I know what we were getting into? She and I grew closer and closer as I married and had Ellie, but we still had our differences. My fear was creating a potential time bomb that would ruin our relationship for the rest of our lives…that would not have been worth it. We talked, I read and read articles and books on having grandparents watch your kids full-time. Some of the issues that come up are pretty normal and some surprised me. We had meetings to discuss boundaries and expectations on both sides of the fence. And then I realized…she’s my mother. She and I will always be just fine, we really always have, what am I worried about? So we started grandma daycare when Jack was 6 weeks old. I went to work and all was just peachy!
Mid January my mother and I started discussing how often Ellie was going to the bathroom. How often she was asking for something to drink…how strange it was. At the Friday night at pick up I told my mother I would take her in on Monday. She was more concerned about it then me of course. She made sure by the tone of her voice that I understood that she was VERY CONCERNED! Yes mother! I will take her, I promise! I would have taken her into the doctor on Monday anyway I think. But I will admit that having your mother tell you as a direct order did make me take her into the walk in clinic at 7am instead of calling to make an appointment sometime that day.
When Ellie was diagnosed, I did not think of my mother, my father, my husband or anyone else of course. I thought of Ellie and then my 4 month old son who would have to give up his mother for a few weeks while she took care of his sister in the hospital. I thought of my ability, or lack of. As anyone knows when your child is diagnosed with Type 1 the amount of information you must learn instantly is overwhelming and intimidating. I think I knew she wasn’t going to die. I just didn’t know if she was going to be sick all the time. I definitely expected it to be worse than ultimately it has been.
I have no idea what my mother was feeling the first few weeks. As usual, I didn’t even think about her feelings of loss or fear…I didn’t even know if she was worried about me…her daughter, in pain and fear, sleep deprived and in a state of shock. My mother came to the hospital and participated in the learning process…quietly learning and adding her two cents when necessary. She would go home and take care of my little boy only 4 months old and orphaned. When we left the hospital and took Ellie home she and my father were there. Waiting for us to arrive.
When it was time for me to go back to work, my mother opened the door and took both of my children in her arms without a second thought. A 3-year-old just weeks into a diagnosis of Type 1 and a 5 month old. 40 + hours a week.
Shots were difficult for me, let alone a grandmother. I always felt worse for her than me. Parents do to their children whats necessary to make them whole and safe. Grandparents have already put their time in. The grandkids are the best part of being a parent. You rarely have to discipline, you always get to be the good guy and you never ever have to do anything that causes pain. If my mother had to give me a shot…she’d do it with no problem, not even a thought I think, because I am her child and she would have a responsibility to make sure I was safe and healthy. But to have to look at your grand baby and inject her 3 to 4 times a day…It actually makes my body ache when I think of how damn hard that was for my mother. She lost a bit of “grandma” the first time. Taken from her by the beastly D.
My mother and I are as close and as much a team as we have ever been. She is the person in the room that I can just look at and she knows, she knows what I’m thinking and she knows what I’m feeling. For the first time in my life I am able to say, I know my mother and she knows me. I truly understand what she has and will do for me. She has taught me well by being the mother she has been. She has taught me to be strong, to let go when I need to and to stay the course even when in pain. My mom always use to tell me, “you get up in the morning, you get ready, you go to work, you come home and you goto bed…and then you do it again the next day. That is how you get through life”.
Damn that woman wasn’t lying. I hope she knows just how much I love her and I hope I can stay the course with the same determination and stamina that she has. She too has been dealt a blow by the D, taken from her was a small piece of life. Just like Ray and I, she goes through the daily grind of D care and she never EVER complains.
I never truly understood my mother when I was young…now that I am a mother, a D mom too, I think I get it, I think I really really get it.
Thank you mom. I love you.