This post is for caregivers on Mother’s Day. Many of us are tending the needs of mothers who once took care of us. Others are missing the mother they once had. My mom is still alive, but completely transformed by #dementia. After looking after her for years, I use this day to remember what was best in her and ask myself how I measure up.
In 1960, my mom was one of those young women who worked hard to have it all. Mom was constantly busy with chores required for maintaining a clean and nourished family. She loved her full time job and couldn’t stand to have a messy house or dirty dishes in the sink. To get everything done, she stayed super-organized. All the hangers in her closet faced the same direction and she never did one task without trying to complete another at the same time.
Lately I’ve been watching old episodes of Mad Men. They make me remember that the decade of the 60’s was exciting for women. They were offered new opportunities in the workforce. But if they took advantage of these jobs, they were still held to high housekeeping standards. They were also expected to look pretty. My mom enlisted my sister and I as partners in the process of keeping a neat home. We had special duties like dusting every piece of furniture in our rooms. We shook the carpets outside and ran the dust mop under the tables. These were weekly rituals that Mom never gave up on even after becoming indispensable to her boss. He had high standards, too!
This work ethic was just one side of my mother. She also had a wonderful sense of humor. As you can see from the Halloween photo above, #dementia could not steal that away. When we were little kids, she let us act as silly as we wanted and often joined in our ridiculous dances and performances. My mother loved to dance with my dad. They spent many Saturday nights whirling around to big band standards or rock and roll. Mom was strict about right and wrong, but she gave us a lot of leeway to develop our own ideas. For me, this was a great gift.
What Traits do you share with your Mom?
So what did I inherit? I’ve got her outstanding work ethic. In fact, I should probably ease up on the work and goof off a little more. Her gift of silliness is always with me. I believe it’s the one thing keeping me together as a #caregiver. There are rarely dirty dishes in my sink — and that’s probably where our list of parallel traits ends.
I like the IDEA of a clean house, but I don’t pursue it with her passion because I just don’t have the time and refuse to feel guilty about it. There’s no way I can save money like my mom did. Her financial discipline still amazes me. My closets are totally disorganized. The hangers have permission to go any way they want.
There is one other treasure she somehow transmitted to me: a compassionate heart. My mother couldn’t stand to see anyone suffer and neither can I. Watching her decline has been very hard. When things are really difficult our other shared traits of humor and understanding keep me going. What did you inherit from your mother? This is a fine time to remember any good things she passed on to you — and thank her wherever she may be.