Do you feel pressure surrounding all things Mother's Day? There's an ironic tension for me to enjoy the day, but there's the stress to plan for my family and give great gifts like there's no tomorrow to my mother.
My relationship with my mom who has Alzheimer's Disease (ok, not officially diagnosed, but close enough) reminds me so much about a classic children's book, Are You My Mother? that I would read to my boys. It's about a baby bird who leaves his nest and looks for its mother everywhere, asking a kitten, a cow, and even a car. I didn't like it because it seemed sad, but read it with enthusiasm anyway.
These days I search for glimpses of my mom while I care for her a few times each week. The quest can feel long and often sad. But when I hear a lucid sentence, or a laugh, there is a wonderful connection--a joyful reunion of sorts--like the baby bird, which eventually finds its nest and mother.
The good thing is that my mom and I are getting along better than ever. She gives me affection, appreciation and affirmation, 3 gifts that I have longed for all of my parenting years. She tells me she loves me, that I'm gorgeous, and she always likes my clothes or accessories. This is a change from the past when I'd feel she was critical of many things.
These days I like to choose her outfits so she can look like a "silver fox." My mom smiles and giggles, and says, "Oh, Dad won't notice," And I answer, "Oh yes, he will. Go show him." She saunters into the living room, strikes a pose, and asks her husband what he thinks. My dad smiles and says she looks great, and he means it. She often does look very cute.
At age 20, she modeled at the flagship Marshall Field's on State Street (now the unutterable M----s.) She was photographed for a wedding trouseau magazine spread, which included her wearing wedding dresses, and selecting linens and china. The photos were beautiful and I loved hearing all the stories about the kind owner Marshall Field, and the stationery department where she worked. She was 99 lbs then, and she is now. All petite clothes look great on her.
She is in a few ways like the daughter I never had. I get to dress her up and brush her hair, just like she used to do for me. She is thankful for everything I do and bring and says so. When I offer her something to eat, she wants to give it back to me. She even kisses me and my sons on the lips.
Thanks Mom, for giving me the 3 great gifts of affection, affirmation and appreciation. I give them back to you this Mother's Day and always. I found you. I love you. And I know you are my mother.