Monday, July 15, 2013

The other side of the table

I’ve been sitting on the other side of the table for three years now.  It’s quite different over here.

For years, I loved, cared for and worried about my mom.  I would lose sleep over her health and well-being.  I was devastated when she finally passed after years of suffering.

I never really thought I’d experience such an intense love again.  Sure, I love my DH but like I’ve said before, he’s not my blood.  He’s my partner, friend, etc., but I am not genetically connected to him.

With my son, I’m experiencing that intense love again.  I love, care and worry about him.  I get slightly anxious when I’m going to pick him up after work, like I can’t wait to see him and hear about his day.  If my DH and my son are out together and due back at a certain time, I get a little worked up when they’re late.

There are days where I want to protect my son from the world and just keep him in a bubble.  I worry about everything from safety (i.e. crossing the street) to hurt feelings (i.e. bullying).  I want to protect him from anything that will harm him.  I want to hide him away and keep him happy and oblivious to anything bad in the world.  Of course, I won’t do that.  But that’s how much I love him… I would do anything for him.

I didn’t think I’d ever be here; the other side of the table.  I am the mom now; no longer the child.  I thought my friends who had kids were exaggerating about how much you love them and all that.  I found kids annoying and avoided them.  Having my son has brought me to a whole new level of love.  My heart almost feels like it’s going to break because I love him so much.

There is life after death.  I went through really dark days when I was losing and eventually lost my mom.  Now I am in the sun again.

Monday, May 13, 2013

Just another day

Yesterday was Mother’s Day here.  It’s supposed to be a day to honour and celebrate mothers.  

Somehow, I wasn’t feeling honoured or like celebrating.  I was feeling angry, annoyed, tired, frustrated, impatient, sad and pensive.  I can’t even pinpoint what was wrong.  A lot seemed to be wrong.  I feel bad for this but I seriously couldn’t help it or get myself out of the funk.  

We drove for almost 3 hours (roundtrip) yesterday to visit my mother-in-law.  I sat quietly and stared out the window for most of the trip.  That’s quite unusual for me because I’m usually pretty chatty.  I just sat staring at the scenery going by and ignoring my child half the time.  We timed our drive to match his naptime (which is slowly phasing out on its own).  However, he didn’t nap.  He was pretty good, I must admit but I was just not feeling like dealing with anything yesterday.  

You hear of mothers being treated “royally” with breakfast in bed and/or special dinners.  You have visions of flowers and cards.  I got to sleep in a bit, which was huge when you have an active toddler and a shift-working husband.  Then I took a nice long shower.  My husband and son made a card which was actually quite nice.  My husband made us a late breakfast which was also nice.  Then he took us/his mother out for dinner which was nice also.  But somehow, I wasn’t happy.  I feel like a spoiled brat for saying that.  I have a healthy family, a pretty good life and all that but here I am saying I’m not happy.  I hate myself for feeling that way some days.  But I had a lot going on in my head…

First, I was angry at my DH for something he did the day before.  I’m not going to drudge it all up on here but I was seething.  I was holding my anger in because fighting with him some days is pointless and I didn’t feel like fighting.  So that was stewing in the back of my mind. 

I was also thinking a lot about my mom, who passed away five years ago this June.  It’s hard to believe it’s been five years.  In some ways, it seems longer but in other ways, it seems shorter.  I wanted to go to the cemetery to sit and “talk” to her but the cemetery is always insanely busy on Mother’s Day.  So I’ll go another day…probably on her death-a-versary.  My siblings have never gone to the cemetery while I feel it’s an important thing to do now and then.  I have a friend at work who visits his parents at the cemetery and totally gets me…guess where he was this weekend!  He actually sent me a picture of the grave.  He gets that you need to stop and grieve/remember sometimes, no matter how long it has been.  It’s been a while since I’ve been to the cemetery and I think it’s finally caught up with me.  

Then I was thinking about my best friend who is expecting her first child in a few months.  She has quite a complicated situation going on which seems to be clearing up, ironically enough, with the expected baby.  She’s all excited and happy about the baby and gushes on about this and that, including how sweet her husband is being and how helpful her mom is.  My friend is unemployed so spends her days just doing whatever she wants, including having lunch with her mom.  I know I’m horrible for saying this but it makes me so jealous and resentful.  My mom has not been here for me for the past 20 years, due to Alzheimer’s and her death.  I’m pissed right off at the world some days for this and feel “broken” some days.  I’ve needed her and she’s not here.  Instead, I limp along and make do.  So when my friend goes on about this or that, I can feel my jaw clenching.  I’m a horrible person for feeling this, I know, but thankfully, I can be honest on this blog.

My friend goes on about how her mom will be staying with her when the baby arrives and how she’s already confirmed that she’ll have a day or two per week to do whatever she wants as her mom has said she can take off and she’ll mind the baby.  How nice for her.  When I think of my mat leave, I shudder about what a struggle I had between a colicky baby, my own post-partum depression and lack of help.  I actually cried about this yesterday morning when I had a minute to myself in the bathroom.  I sat and cried about how much I missed that year because I was basically up the creek without a paddle.  I feel so incredibly guilty and full of regret, thinking of my son, who had this ill-equipped mother for his first year of life and how wonderful that time could have been and how I wasted it.  It’s funny how things catch up to you sometimes (even years later) and you have a flashback of feelings.  

Yesterday just seemed “eh”.  I was in a mood and basically spoiled my own day.  I know holidays shouldn’t put so much pressure on people.  You should celebrate everyday and enjoy every day.  Holidays work up a lot of anticipation and visions and when reality does not match, it feels like a disappointment.  All this being said, somehow yesterday bothered me quite a bit when really, it was really just another day.

p.s. I told DH later what I was angry about with the preface “You want to know what’s wrong?  I didn’t tell you because I don’t want to fight with you, but when you ___, it really made me mad because ___”.  He accepted this and didn’t really respond or fight back so in his world, I think he got the message.  I know it’s not good to keep things bottled up (like my readers don’t know that about me already).

p.p.s. I just saw this is my 100th post!!!  Yay me!

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

The crazy lady

Well my friends, I have decided something about myself.  I AM the crazy lady.

Two cases in point:

(1)  A couple of neighbours that we were really close with suddenly ditched us shortly after the birth of our son.  Sure, I was up to my ears with a colicky baby and probably suffering from post-partum but they knew this and to this day, our friendship is still pretty well off.  Full details here.

(2) My other neighbours will sit in their car until I go in my house just to avoid me.

Yes, it's true.

This past summer, my next door neighbours put an addition on our fence in the backyard (so now it's 8 feet tall) and then proceeded to erect a 6 foot fence on our rooftop decks.  The later fence REALLY ticked me off because we had a beautiful, open and airy rooftop deck for the past 10 years.  That deck was THE selling point on our house and one of the main reasons I fell in love with our house when we bought it.  It had a gorgeous view of the downtown/south skyline.  Now, all I see is this atrocious 6 foot fence.  Our breeze, light and view are gone.  The sunrise is completely blocked.  Nevermind that our property value has most likely dropped because we no longer have a gorgeous view of the skyline.

These neighbours moved in just over a year ago and from the start, I found them sugary sweet and fake.  I was friendly and polite to them until they put this fence up.  I had a bad afternoon one day and when they were up there building their fence, I went out and flipped out on them.  I know I probably did come off a bit bonkers but when they previously "discussed' their fence plans with me, I said I was not in favour of it because I enjoy the deck the way it is and they basically gave me their signature sugary smiles and said "too bad, it's on our property line and it's within the by-law so we can do whatever we want".  They have this really self-important and condescending way about them, in addition to their sugary fakeness.

Things haven't been great between us since.  They avoid me like the plague and actually say hi to my husband (but not me) when we see them.  Why am I being treated like the bad person here when they have really brought this upon themselves?

So, the other evening, I arrived home with my son at the same time as these neighbours.  My son loves to dawdle along and look at everything in the 30 feet from the car to the house.  You can try to rush him along but it just makes him dig in his heels.  Meanwhile, my neighbours sat in their car, waiting for us to go in.  Imagine being held captive in your car by the crazy lady and her equally crazy toddler!

As we got into the house, their car doors opened and they snuck into their house.  I looked through the mail and guess what was in there?  A sugary sweet Christmas card from yours truly.  I just about threw it in the garbage.  

Does this add up?  Avoiding me like the plague and being rude when they do see me but at the same time giving us a Christmas card?  I told my DH about this later that evening and his response was for me to make sure we gave them a Christmas card in return.  I grumbled at this and he said "oh stop being you!".  

ME???  What, stop being the crazy lady?  Never.

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Twenty Years

I'm a little last posting this, but better late than never, right?  

It's been 20 years since my dad passed away.  Twenty years since the wheels were set in motion for my mom to suffer for years-on-end with Alzheimer's.  Twenty years since I grew up overnight.

It's amazing to realize that I have survived and I am a pretty strong person who has done pretty well in life (or at least I think so!).  I'm not the most confident person in real life but when I reflect on the past 20 years, I feel pretty confident inside.

There are times in everyone's lives when you don't think you're going to make it and can't imagine where life will take you.  I never imagined where I would be now but I'm pretty happy that I'm here.

I don't know where the next 20 years will take me but I'm excited about them.  My new chapter is unfolding and I am loving every moment.  (I wonder if "blogging" will still be around in 20 years?!)

Friday, June 29, 2012

The New Chapter Continues

I heard from an old friend the other day and it took me back years. We met through an Alzheimer's support network years ago when we were both caring for our moms at home. We were both out of our minds, handling our moms on our own, trying to keep up with the daily insanity that Alzheimer's brings. Those who have been/are going through this know about the bizarre conversations, arguments, confusion, the wandering, the hiding/finding of items...We both eventually lost our moms to Alzheimer's and didn't keep in touch as well.

It was really nice to hear from her and we both looked back at where we had been like it was a lifetime ago. It really does feel like it was another life now that it's over. However, I remember when you're in the midst of it, it feels like it's going on forever and there's no end or relief in sight.

I know a couple of people who have recently lost parents and are still grieving and recovering from it. It takes a while, especially if your life isn't really full otherwise (I don't mean for that to sound bad - it was my situation too). If you have spent day in & day out caring for your parent and put the rest of your life aside, you will definitely have a harder time recovering from their passing. The first while in "Club O" really sucks. You need to rebuild your life and start filling it with activities, people and work. I didn't do this right away and found myself in a bit of a rut. As a popular current song says "You can get addicted to a certain kind of sadness".

I have no doubt that I was depressed while my mom had Alzheimer's for 16 years and afterwards for a while too. How could you not be?! It was like the longest death sentence ever...it makes you almost wish for a quick death (my dad went quickly and unexpectedly when I was in high school and although that wasn't great, it was better than drawing it out over 2 decades). I wonder if there's a study out there that takes into account the secondary illnesses that Alzheimer's causes on the caregivers. I was lucky to be young and healthy physically to take care of my mom but I'm sure that many caregivers are older than me and suffer physically too.

So here I am, four years after my mom passed, in the new chapter of my life. I have a 2 year old baby who has become so enjoyable and I feel happy. As one of my readers says about her own son: "my son saved my life". It's true. He has given me a new chapter in my life even though it took a long time to get here. With my son, the first year was pretty crazy with the extreme colic and I often wondered what the hell I was doing but now we've gotten past that, both my DH and I absolutely love and adore him. We've become a family and it feels good.

My bottom line today? If you're in a bad situation right now, just remember that you'll get through it and have a new chapter one day too. My last chapter lasted a long, long time and I sometimes felt quite hopeless but I'm here to tell you that you'll make it too.

Monday, January 2, 2012

A Vent

I've been very hesitant to post this entry. It's been on my mind for a long time. I've waited because I didn't want to post it in the wrong frame of mind or out of frustration or in the midst of the colicky craziness my son had. I didn't want to appear as a bitch or a whiny person.

I've waited until the dust has settled (or at least until I could see a bit of clearing!).

This post is about some friends who have severely let me down. I had tons of friends at one point; now, I have a hard time scraping up plans when we have babysitting. My housewarming party was ridiculously over capacity. Same for the big birthday parties. My bridal shower and baby showers were also a bit overrun. Bring a colicky baby into the picture and voila, people RUN FOR THE HILLS!!! God forbid the new mother has a bit of post-partum depression. Change your phone numbers.

Really.

Okay, I know people get busy with their lives but it just seems very funny timing that an insane baby arrives and poof, I'm sitting alone. Fair weather?

There is one person in particular that really irks me. She lives two doors away and was a pretty close friend until this past year. My DH and I hung out with her and her DH & kids and whoever (i.e. their visiting family members) for years. We were literally in & out of their house like it was ours. When I was pregnant, they were the FIRST TO KNOW. YES, they knew before family or anyone else. That's how close we were. Throughout the pregnancy, they were so supportive. They were going to be there for us and we could count on them.

Wrong.

Right after our son arrived, things changed. There was no major incident and nothing in our friendship changed. They just literally disappeared.

We used to go out every weekend for dinner or order in dinner. No more of that.

They knew our son was super colicky and I was in rough shape both physicallly and emotionally. This was their big signal to HELP!!!

Since then, things have not changed. Over the past 18 months (where does time go?!), they have been distant.

I finally talked to her and said that we missed hanging out with them, weren't sure why things had changed, asked if we did anything to offend them (hey, I know in the midst of colic, you can be grumpy!) and asked if we could hang out sometime. She gave a canned answer (I swear she had it recorded on a chip in her brain) that "for many reasons, it's difficult to hang out/have dinner on weekends". I tried to gently ask what that meant/if they were going through something and got nowhere. I said very diplomatically/in a polite fashion that it had been a rough year and a bit and we really needed them and they weren't there for us.

I even mentioned that when my DH's father died this past spring, they ditched that. They didn't show up to any viewings or the funeral and they sent an EMAIL to express their condolences. Really?! They live TWO DOORS AWAY!!! When I mentioned this (in a very polite, inquisitive manner of course), she rolled her eyes and said the viewings/funeral were an hour away, where my DH grew up. OMG, an HOUR. YOU POOR WOMAN. An hour makes respect go out the window. My DH was so incredibly hurt that our supposed friends couldn't take the time to show respect and support for him when his father (also his best friend) passed away. He looked around the funeral home and the church for them and I could see the hurt in his eyes. I can't tell you how furious I still am inside with them for this. Both of their parents live a plane ride away and my husband and I always said we would be there for them when the time came, no question. Yeah. Maybe now there is a huge question there.

It's funny, people who haven't lost parents don't get how important it is to attend viewings or funerals. It is really important. As the grieving person, you remember who took time out of their precious lives to show respect and support. I actually cut off contact with an old friend (who I've known since we were 14) after she pulled a stunt re: my mother's funeral. It was the last straw and that was it for her. Trust me, it wasn't an easy decision but she had finally pushed my last button.

So back to my original topic of this post: friends letting you down when you need them the most. The person I described above was the star of this show. She lived two doors away from me, knew I was having a hard time and didn't lift a finger to help or support. Christ, I would have died somedays to have her come over while her kids were at school (she stays home) to give me 30 minutes for a shower or a nap.

I had many others who ran for their lives. It was a similar show with my mother. Do you know how much I would have appreciated if a friend would have visited my mother with me at her nursing home instead of me always going there alone (yes, this includes my DH who avoided the place like the plague). I know nursing homes aren't the greatest places so that's why friends need you to join them, even now and then!

As for my colicky son, there were others who offered to help but really, it just wasn't the best logistically. I didn't want to put people out of their way.

But for those who were handy and ran for the hills....YES I HAD A HARD TIME WITH MY MOM AND A HARD YEAR WITH THE COLICKY BABY and that's when I needed you the most.

Two people that I have to give thanks to are my siblings. Yes, I can't believe I'm typing that myself. The two of them (separately, let's not get crazy) have been very supportive over the past 18 months. Any stupidity has been put aside as they have fallen in love with my wild son and have given support whenever they could.

I feel better now that I've posted this, even though the people I'm really talking about won't even read this because I don't publicize this blog with many people. It's my place to vent and just say what I want to without excuses or arguments. Yes, I've tried openly and gently telling these friends that I needed them but they were always too busy or whatever. It's been bugging the crap out of me and I'm sure it is a similar situation for many people out there.

If you have friends in need, BE THERE FOR THEM because they need you and one day, you might WILL need them.

Monday, November 14, 2011

He makes me smile

Time is flying as you can see from how long it’s been since my last post.

My little guy is 16 months old now and I am completely in love with him. He has the best little personality, complete with a range of emotions from happy to sad to angry and everything in between.

He started daycare a couple of months ago and it was terrible. He wailed and screamed for almost 2 weeks straight at daycare. It broke my heart. I was a wreck all day at work and counted the minutes till I could go “rescue” him. He was so upset about being left by me that he was a disaster all day, every day. I wish I could tell him, hey, I sympathize; I was a wreck when my mom used to leave me at school for the first while and an even bigger wreck later in life when she passed away! It never gets easier, my little friend!

The lady who runs the daycare almost kicked him out after a week because she had never seen such a bad transition and said I’d have to hire a private nanny or quit my job and stay home with him. And then one day, he turned and everything was fine. He realized he could have fun all day and that I would faithfully come pick him up every afternoon. A huge sigh of relief from me…

Now, he is having a great time at daycare and I have adjusted to being back at work. I absolutely love the time I spend with him in the morning before work, the afternoons & evenings and weekends. I love to see him smile & wave bye when I drop him off in the morning at daycare and I love to see his face when I arrive to pick him up after work. It’s fascinating to see all the little things he’s learned that day, which brings me to the title of this post…

He makes me smile. He does things to impress, entertain and mimic me. It’s absolutely fascinating to have this little person who is so dependent on you and can’t even really talk or walk yet going out of his way to get a reaction from me. It makes me smile larger and with a sweeter feeling than I’ve ever experienced before. This is love, someone told me. I smile, laugh and/or clap at him and he beams back at me. He is so happy to see my reaction. We have connected and have so much fun together.

On the flipside, he also gets into mischief sometimes and I have to say “no” to him. What a sad little face he puts on! And sometimes, he even looks away in shame. It breaks my heart and I have to try so hard not to smile and give him a mixed message.

So this is what it feels like to be on the “other side” as a mom and not a child. It’s an amazing experience and I am so thankful to be having it.