Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Two Letters

Sometimes that "kick in the head" I've mentioned needing recently comes from an unexpected source. While I'm sitting here wallowing in my own depression (for a reason I don't exactly think of as totally valid) there are people out there who have it far worse. The only real change that has come in the past month to how super awesome my life was before, is that I now don't have to work 70 hour weeks and 28 days in a row with no comp time. Sure, that brings changes to how we once lived. At least temporarily. No extravagant vacations are on the horizon and (gasp) I've started picking out things at the grocery store that are not name-brand. But we know it's temporary. We know I will get back to work and we can get back to our lives, as regularly scheduled. Just on God's time... not ours.

I've never come right out and told you this on this blog, but my mother is very ill. She was diagnosed with a disease when I was only 2 years old. They told her not to have any more children, so I became the lone observer to a lifetime of her pain and suffering as she slowly deteriorated. This led to years of frustration and dissipating independence, which ultimately brought about my father leaving. When I was just out of college, a mere 22 years old, she packed up her stuff and moved to Florida to be in an assisted living facility. She was only 45. She is now 52 years old and one wrong turn away from being in a full-fledged nursing home. She cannot stand on her own. She cannot get ouf of bed on her own. She cannot dress herself. She cannot cut her food or dial her phone. Her body hates her in the worst possible way.

So when she calls, I drop everything to answer the phone. No, we've not always had the best relationship, but it's been mended significantly over the past 12 years. And now that she is about to become a grandma, she has been exceptionally supportive. (Much more so than the baby's other supposed grandma. Ahem.) She was calling to recommend me getting into some volunteer work to bide the time during my unemployment. I know she's been a worried mess since she found out I'm not working right now. And I hate to burden her with that undue stress. She's got enough problems of her own. I kept insisting to her that I was fine and that I was tired of talking about the subject. But being the bull-headed woman she's always been, she kept badgering me about it. Finally, I just started to cry. (Surprise, surprise.) Her reaction? Well, after an apology, she kinda laughed.

She told me that we must have two criers in the family because she had a breakdown that same morning. About what? Well... about the fact that when she meets her granddaughter, she won't be strong enough to hold her unassisted.

And just like that, the walls of depression just started to tumble down around me. I've never felt so selfish in my entire life... to be griping about being depressed when I still have my husband, my baby, my friends, my family, my house, my car, and my health. While she lives alone, hundreds of miles from anyone, and lives every day without giving up. When it would be so easy for her to just throw in the towel. One of the greatest compliments my father ever gave me was to say that I was like my mother in that I was stubborn and never gave up. Sure, on the surface, that sounds like I'm just a total bitch. But when you realize that she is slowly getting worse and worse every day, yet still managing to get up, go about her life, give an effort, and just TRY... that sounds like someone I want to aspire to be like.

I'm not disillusioned enough to think my depression can just be swept under the rug by one comment someone made. But that statement was pretty damn impactful. It was my kick in the head. I have got to learn to display that same mentality of barrelling through anything in my way. I've got a daughter coming who is going to look up to me now. I want to make sure she sees the best of her grandma in me.


The Fischer Family said...

I had no idea your mom was so sick! I'm so sorry! I can't imagine how hard that has been on you! It's amazing what can change our perspective when you are feeling down. You're right, the depression won't go away with just one comment, but it does help you count your blessings! Hugs from KY!

Anonymous said...

This is a wonderful and touching piece of writing. Depression during pregnancy is real, difficult relationships w parents are real, but thank God for the ability to feel compassion and empathy! Good luck to you and your mom! (reading your blog via Skirt)
Angela S (Charleston)