The events of my life continue to unfold in all their stressful, grief-threatening glory despite the fact that I am my mother's primary caregiver. When new ordeals loom I long for the days when, as a teacher, I could say, "I'm sorry, I'm already serving on two committees; my schedule won't allow me to take a third assignment..." Well, sometimes that worked and sometimes it didn't--but wouldn't it be nice to feel we had the option of opting out?
Our most recent trauma is so close to my heart that I can scarcely write about it, but I feel that Holy Spirit push to share because it isn't right for me to go silent when I am struggling. If I share with you only the calm words of guidance that spring from the things in my
caregiving journey that are right, then how can I expect to help if you
are struggling with things that are wrong?
Our latest traumatic event is this: our grandson, precious little one-year-old baby boy, experienced a frightening health crisis last week. Now we are in the midst of a time of trusting the Lord through a trial we did not expect, praising Him that we have been allowed to keep this precious little boy with us, but anxiously vigilant now and struggling not to become fearful.
My mother senses she is no longer the focal point of my attention, and is not bearing this well. My distraction makes her restless and insecure, and she becomes fearful and suspicious about whether her needs will be met. She writes journal entries like this one: "They are probably having ice cream in there and it would never occur to them I might like some too." Five minutes after I am in her room I might receive a phone call from Mom: "I thought you were going to bring me something good to eat," she says.
Just at the time I'm feeling emotionally vulnerable and still shell-shocked with fear for my grandson, Mom becomes sarcastic and rude. She is unable to comprehend the gravity of our grandson's situation, and when I try to talk to her about it she brushes it off with some surface level comment such as, "Well I'm sure he'll be fine, I hope they don't get themselves all riled up about it." Anything that distracts my attention from her is perceived as a threat.
We've taken measures to alleviate Mom's fears by providing her extra snacks, which she loves. Our respite caregiver spent more time than usual visiting with Mom this week. I've learned that the extra stimulus of even pleasant conversations will stir up Mom's discontent the moment I leave the room, and so my strategy has been to be very intentional about eye contact, pleasant expressions on my face, and hugs. These things seem to reassure her in the way that my words cannot. It's important for me to leave my anxieties on the other side of Mom's apartment door, because she senses how I am feeling. A very powerful mood lightener for Mom is shared laughter and so I give myself extra caregiving credit if I can find something that makes her smile!
It is difficult to "put on a happy face" for the person who once shared and lightened my burdens, but that's what's needed now. If I will just take an extra moment or two to whisper a prayer and to place a smile on my face before I enter Mom's room, I know she'll be reassured.
My grandson experienced a period of apnea at 2:00 a.m. on his first birthday. He just happened to be sitting on his mother's lap; she was rocking him back to sleep after he had cried out. He struggled to breath, would cry out, catch a breath, then stop breathing again. This cycle repeated several times. Finally he lost consciousness. Just when my daughter and her husband were preparing to initiate CPR, he opened his eyes, was uncharacteristically quiet and withdrawn for awhile, and then seemed fine. No further incidents have occurred. He is in the process of receiving medical tests, and is being monitored at night by motion detecting baby monitor. My prayerful impression is that this is a one time event, but we need prayer for knowledge and wisdom in the days ahead. Please pray for Baby Logan!