I had a normal life before mom got sick. I worked, I did everything freely without a care in the world. Then mom started changing and so I naturally took on more. I at the time never thought much about it. Children help their parents more and more as they age. It’s the normal order of things. When she got her dementia diagnosis, I gained a new normal. Caregiver wasn’t what I was expecting to do, as no one does, but I did it because she’s my mom. Dad was in denial so I had to put me aside. Ask any caregiver, it’s hard to keep your old self in your new normal (of caregiving). As she progressed, so did my normal. Then, cancer hit. Another new normal. Keeping her comfortable, making sure hospice, dad and I were all on the same page. Oh, did I mention, I also have a husband and son who needed me too. All of this went on for two years and one month.
Now, here it is 3 1/2 months post caregiving, and I am trying to find my new normal. You may ask why can’t I go back to my old self ? In a single word.. grief. Yes, I have lost family members and several I was really close to, but I didn’t see them everyday. My grief for them was tucked in the same pocket of me not seeing them all the time. But losing a parent changes you. And when you take care of then, they become a part of you. Almost like an extension of yourself. I had to at least see her to be able to relax for the night. (Relax..yeah right).
After mom passed, that extension of me was gone. My job of taking care of her was done. It was like getting fired from a job. No time to prepare for the next step in life. I was faced with a new reality. I had to be a wife, a mom, and be a support to my dad.
My new normal is hard. Those times you want to ask mom for advice, tell her your good news, and in my case, call her and tell her about our adventures of the day. Learning to go through everyday life with a piece of you missing is hard. That is my new normal.. learning to function with a hole. Most days, yes, I am fine. But, then there others I crumble into a blubbering mess. There is no going back to the person I was before everything changed. My hole was filled. I could call mom at any point in time.
But, this new normal is something mom would have wanted. She always told me to take care of me and my family. Not to worry about her. So, I’m trying to honor her by taking care of us. Of me. I got a haircut the other day after a little over a year. Mom also wanted to travel. I would call her from places she would have wanted to see and showed her the pictures if where we had been. That’s why I’m not going to sub anymore. Don’t get me wrong, I love it, but traveling with my husband for our business is more important. I like to think that she is our personal gaurdian angel and we are her guides to where she wanted to go.
My new normal is hard, but this normal will be forever changing. As the years go by, the person I am now will change. And that person will change. And that person. So normal… Not in my vocabulary. I’m a work in progress and plan to progress to as close to the person I once was. But my old normal is gone.