• Sarah Dionne

The Tragic Truth of Motherhood

My Mom is Aging...and it's Hard


My relationship with my mother is changing. Of course, with age, it is expected. But when it actually starts to happen it’s almost like you never expected it.


My mother and I have always had a complicated relationship. She’s an incredible person; strong, powerful, determined; a college professor, an artist, a master gardener. An accomplished woman.


My mother never really lets things bother her outwardly. She describes most emotional experiences as, “it just is what it is, and we need to deal with it”.

I was angry, ragefull, impulsive...I was someone that my mother could not understand.

I was always an emotional person, ever since childhood, sensitive to energy, to my own feelings and to the emotions of other people. And, further than that, I had undiagnosed bipolar, which meant as a teen I was angry, ragefull, impulsive...I was someone that my mother could not understand.


I resented her for a long time. I wanted a mother who could emotionally connect with me. I wanted a mother who would validate my sadness and hurt.


I wanted a mother who would not only laugh with me, but cry with me and tell me, “it’s okay to cry, it’s okay to be sad”. I hoped she would eventually be that kind of mother. Of course, it never happened.

Even though I resented her, even though she could not understand me, my mother never turned her back on me.

There were many, many years of me falling apart and my mother waiting to help put things back together.


Even though I resented her, even though she could not understand me, my mother never turned her back on me.


I always knew that she would be there for me. I always knew that my mother was my foundation and, no matter what happened, I always had her to run back to.


A few nights ago, my mother was sitting at the table with us for dinner. She is recovering from her second stroke, which has affected her vision and some of her memory.


The first stroke was like it never happened. Her recovery from it seemed almost instantaneous, which was classic “Mom”; pull it together and move on. This one was different.

This might seem like nothing, no big deal...but, in that moment, my mom was vulnerable.

My mother has been unsteady on her feet with problematic knees and vertigo, now her vision isn’t great and she’s weak from her stay in the hospital. I was sitting next to her at the table.


She looked over at my dad and asked him for some more water in a quiet voice. He was distracted by what he was eating, so she gingerly pushed the glass toward him to get his attention.


This might seem like nothing, no big deal...but, in that moment, my mom was vulnerable.


She needed help doing something so small and I could tell it was painful for her. It was painful for me.


In the last few weeks, my role in my parents’ lives has changed. My husband and I were here to give them a hand when they needed it. Now we are here because they need help.


I am now shifting into my mother’s foundation.


When my mother was airlifted to Boston for the stroke, I wasn’t sure if I would see her again. When she did come home, I was scared but grateful. The next morning, she woke up disoriented with a massive headache. We called 9-1-1 again. She had a serious UTI and was there for another few days.

The reality of this hit me like a train, the possibility of the world without my mother was real.

When she came home, she was very weak. I had hoped she would stay in the hospital longer; I had hoped they would monitor her for just another night or two, but she came home, and I was scared.


Just a few days later she woke up in extraordinary pain and I was calling 9-1-1 again. I sat with her on the bed, I hugged her, and she hugged me back.

Through all of this I knew it was possible my mother might die. The reality of this hit me like a train, the possibility of the world without my mother was real.


Of course I knew she was getting older, of course I knew that eventually she would pass on into another life. But knowing it and then actually being faced with it are two hugely different things.


My shift in roles was a kind of death. It was the death of the foundation I had always relied on. It was the death of a safety net that I took for granted. It was finally understanding that I’m not only a daughter, but I am a mother.

I am the foundation.

My kids are incredible; two step kids and one biological daughter who is four. My role in my step kids’ lives is as supporter, authority, and friend. It is an important job and one that I take very seriously.


As a stepmother I am here for my kids whenever they need me, yet I am not their center. I am not their safety, the one that fills their hearts. That’s who I am for my daughter.


As I watched my own mother leave us in the ambulance, as I helped her up the front stairs when she came home, as I checked on her, dispensed her medications, helped her into the shower or brought her breakfast something became clear to me.


I wanted to just sit beside her, hug her and cry into her shoulder. But that was never the relationship that we had.

I want her to be able to rest her head on me and cry out all her tears.

One day, God willing, my daughter will be doing this for me. If we have that opportunity, I want her to be able to sit down beside me and ask, “mom, what will I do if you die?”.


I want her to be able to rest her head on me and cry out all her tears. I want her to be able to talk to me about her pain, her fear, her heartache.


I want her to know that whatever she is feeling is welcomed, that I will be open to hearing her, comforting her even on my own death bed. I will never be perfect, but I will always be there to say, “it’s okay to feel what you feel, sweetie. I love you”.


That is what I never had in my own relationship with my mother.

I am grateful for these painful insights that these experiences are bringing me. That is what it is to be a seeker.


My mind and spirit are always listening, always learning, always growing even during the most heartbreaking and scary times in life. So, I end this article in gratitude and love for my mother, for all she was able to give me, for all that was missing and for all it has taught me to bring to my own daughter.

Sarah Dionne is a Yoga psychotherapist and life coach. She uses her blog to share her experiences, insights and expertise.

Learn more about Sarah and the powerful work she does based in the traditions of Yoga

Click here for Sarah's free guide, Where To Go From Here, finding your purpose and fulfillment

For a free consultation with Sarah, go to her calendar to book your free session or contact her by email.


"The work I do is based out of many years in the field of psychotherapy, practicing Yoga and all those years I spent wandered the world in search of myself. Today I put it all together to help women and moms discover what will make them happy and fulfilled in life, even if there's been tragedy or heartache...our best life is still available to us" - Sarah


 

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Email: mindbodyspirit@wholehealthcollab.com

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