Life with My Elderly Parent

She once had a mind like a steel trap… now there are perceptible holes that no one can fix.

My mother at 38 years old.

My mother turned 79 this past March and has lived with my family for some time. At the end of the week, my husband and I are accompanying her to meet with a coordinator so that she can be approved to live in an assisted living facility.

While I was gathering her paperwork required for the meeting, I broke down in tears. Even as I write this I am caught up in a wave of emotions. She is my mother. The brave woman that came to America on her own to start a new life. She is the woman who never missed a tennis meet or piano recital, and encouraged me in all things academic.

A few months ago she expressed her fear of forgetting things. I told her she didn’t need to worry about that because she was such a good record keeper. A month later, I noticed that she has begun to forget things. Small things like a comment she made seconds before or telling her something only to have her ask me the same question three or four more times. When I say, “I already told you,” she gets really quiet and sits down on the couch to write something down in her binder. I have no idea what it is that she’s writing, but it breaks my heart to see her like this. I can see it in her face that she doesn’t like what’s happening, but also doesn’t want to admit it. She once had a mind like a steel trap, as my stepdad once said, and now there are perceptible holes that no one can fix.

She’s been having vivid dreams of those who have passed on. My grandmother, her brother Reuben who died in his 20’s and most recently my stepdad. We found out he passed away this past December. He had a short-temper during my childhood that only became worse as he got older. They lived in an apartment on Geary St. in San Francisco, so when they argued the neighbors would check up on my mother to make sure she was okay. He had never hit her, but she didn’t wait around for it to happen. She had enough and filed for divorce.

After that dream, she has hung up pictures of when they were together, all smiles. She now recalls her life with him as a blessing. She no longer berates the man he was, which is a strange thing to witness. After all these years, now he’s a saint? There was a lot of hurt caused by his actions towards her and myself that I have had to forgive. Not an easy task, but once the anger is gone, it is amazing how much better I feel.

She is my biggest critic outside of myself and the first one to tell me “I told you so.”She cannot understand why yelling at children doesn’t make them better people and has an opinion about everything. Here’s a short list.

Cooking: “That’s not going to taste very good. If I were you I would ___.” I don’t follow her directions when it comes to cooking American dishes. Her follow up comment is usually, “Oh, Dais that was sooo good. I’m glad you finally know how to cook!”

Child rearing: “When I was _____ (insert child’s name) age I couldn’t _____.”

For instance, the following conversation happened yesterday.

Isabel and Gage: Can we go outside?

Me: Yes, you guys can go outside.

Mom: In the rain? They are going to get pneumonia.

Me: I have ran 30 miles in the rain. They will be just fine.

Mom: When we were kids we weren’t allowed. We had to carry an umbrella.

Career Choices: “You can still ___.” I haven’t had much of a career unless you count being a mother. She expected me to become something she could brag about to her family back home. Anything I have actually done for a living hasn’t been a big money maker. At 40, I’m still working on that one.

Post-baby body: “Dais, how long will it take you to lose the weight?” As if I don’t already have any issues with my post-baby body. We all know where I’m at with this one.

I try not to get worked up about things she says and realize daily that I can’t change the opinion of a nearly 80 year old. I worry that there will come a day when she won’t remember my name or the names of her grandchildren. I have come to terms with the fact that her time here on earth is waning and I do my best every day to remember that. All I can really do is to continue to love her unconditionally.

Parenting: Adapt and Grow

I never imagined being a step parent. Then again, I never imagined a lot of things, but they happened.

The love I have for my husband extends to his son, now our son, Gage. Being a mother of girls and only girls I have learned a lot. Did I think I had learned more than enough about kids? I could confidently give a resounding “YES!”, but that was a couple of years ago. Life was like, “Desiree, there is much more for you to learn. Let’s see how you can adapt to having another three!” Having a nearly 6 year old son in the house has thrown me for a loop.

His energy level cannot be rivaled against anyone in this house. He can run around all day and still have the energy of someone ready to run a marathon. You know how that old saying goes, “If you could bottle up that energy, we would be millionaires” it is the honest to goodness truth. I really wish I could have his kind of energy. I believe I could get a lot more done in a shorter amount of time.

He has a wonderful imagination. His favorite song is “I Believe I Can Fly” by R. Kelly, but before he could hurt himself, we had to tell him that the song wasn’t really about flying. He has a unique take on life and is eager to get approval, especially when he’s suggesting ways to get things done. I continue to learn a lot from him.  When it comes to taking time out of being the busy mom, he reminds me that I need to just enjoy all the little things.

Today, Anthony and I went out for a walk and brought Gage along. It was a beautiful clear blue sky type of morning and we were anxious to get our miles in. We took one loop around the lake, but Gage wanted to go over the bridge and stand on a little island where the ducks like to gather. We told him we’d go over there the next time around. At the beginning of the second loop, he was already lagging, but I knew it wouldn’t be as simple as saying, “Hurry up, let’s go.” If you are a parent, you know that a child’s mind says the opposite. We slowly made our way over to the bridge where he was able to sit and watch the ducks, while we walked loops around the island and the bridge.

When kids aren’t agreeing to your terms of rigidity, we as parents must adapt and grow. Just remember, they aren’t going to be little forever. 

The Proust Questionnaire: A Quiz About You

Facebook and Instagram have been my go-to social media platforms since 2014. Where else can you view a positive spin on the lives of others? We all have our beautiful days, but we also have those ugly moments. The kind seen behind closed doors far from the prying eyes of FB “friends” and followers. The disconnection that social media promotes with the option of filters makes it all the more difficult in getting to know people at their core. We all see the fluff, but what about the other important things that make us who we are?

These thoughts have led me share the Proust Questionnaire. I first heard about it in a creative writing class. Its primary purpose was to learn more about my fictional character, but since my final project for the class was a nonfiction piece about myself, I answered the questions.

If you’re curious to know more about your friends or loved ones, this questionnaire is only 35 questions and makes for a good in-depth conversation piece. Since we do have five daughters, this might be a good questionnaire to give to all future son-in-laws.

Are you looking at this from an internal point of view? I find myself going back to this questionnaire once a year. Life has a way of making me see it in different angles so my answers will continue to evolve.

Let me know what you think. If you dare feel free to share your answers in the comments. 

Proust Questionnaire

  1. What is your idea of perfect happiness?
  2. What is your greatest fear?
  3. What is the trait you most deplore in yourself?
  4. What is the trait you most deplore in others?
  5. Which living person do you most admire?
  6. What is your greatest extravagance?
  7. What is your current state of mind?
  8. What do you consider the most overrated virtue?
  9. On what occasion do you lie?
  10. What do you most dislike about your appearance?
  11. Which living person do you most despise?
  12. What is the quality you most like in a man?
  13. What is the quality you most like in a woman?
  14. Which words or phrases do you most overuse?
  15. What or who is the greatest love of your life?
  16. When and where were you happiest?
  17. Which talent would you most like to have?
  18. If you could change one thing about yourself, what would it be?
  19. What do you consider your greatest achievement?
  20. If you were to die and come back as a person or a thing, what would it be?
  21. Where would you most like to live?
  22. What is your most treasured possession?
  23. What do you regard as the lowest depth of misery?
  24. What is your favorite occupation?
  25. What is your most marked characteristic?
  26. What do you most value in friends?
  27. Who are your favorite writers?
  28. Who is your hero of fiction?
  29. Which historical figure do you most identify with?
  30. Who are your heroes in real life?
  31. What are your favorite names?
  32. What is it that you most dislike?
  33. What is your greatest regret?
  34. How would you like to die?
  35. What is your motto?

Labor, Delivery and Birth in the Time of COVID-19

…this isn’t a false alarm, my water did break.

June 26, 2020

12:15 AM– I woke up and felt a warm gush of fluid on my backside. I poked my husband and said, “It’s time. My water broke.” He snapped into action without a single word. These sort of things happen in the most unexpected times. My friend, Zury, had her water break while picking up crickets at a pet store.

When I got up out of bed and stood up, a stream of fluid came rushing out of me. “Yeah, this isn’t a false alarm my water really did break.” Immune to other comments I made throughout the previous day due to a false alarm the previous Monday, we agreed we would not make another trip to the hospital unless my water broke. Mucous plug gone, close contractions and this being my fifth baby, meant nothing, except for the simple fact that anything could happen at anytime.

I have heard stories of women having their second baby so quickly that they had no time to get to the hospital. Well, I was on my fifth one and this one seemed just as stubborn as the last.

Brooklyn was born nearly 11 months prior. Labor and delivery took a total of 12 hours. With that said, I was prepared for a long night. In our overnight bag, we had two four packs of Redbull. The second pack was courtesy of our seven year old daughter. A gift for Father’s Day.

We were both pretty groggy as we replenished our overnight bag with extra clothes, cell phone chargers, and RedBulls for my husband . 15 minutes later we headed to the hospital.

12:30 AM– We listened to “Nonstop” by Drake on the way to the hospital, passing through the empty streets of Citrus County into downtown Inverness. We are are from the epicenter of COVID-19. There are currently 264 confirmed cases and 12 deaths, compared to Miami-Dade with 31,562 and 947 deaths. Earlier in the day I had my introduction to COVID-19 testing. I had curbside testing done with a dry swab up my right nostril in preparation to being induced Sunday June 28th at 6pm. Dr. Gonzales wanted to make sure I was having the baby before Week 40.

12:50-7:45AM– I was all checked in and hooked up to a monitor for any changes. The nurses were waiting for Dr. Antony to make a decision to either give me Pitocin or wait the contractions out. Thankfully, Pitocin was the answer.

10:00 AM– I had the epidural. I have experienced one birth without one and I really did not want to experience that again, so yes I opted for a less painful labor and delivery. My attending nurse, Crystal told me to tell her that when I felt like, “Taking the biggest dump of your lifetime.” The heads up would give her just enough time to let Dr. Antony know that it was time for me to push that baby out.

11:20 AM– I let her know.

11:30-11:35 AM– Four pushes later, Kylie Augusta Haros came into the world. Anthony cut the cord while she rested on my chest. 7 lbs 12 oz. 21” long. Her lungs were strong unlike the birth of her older sister who had a cord wrapped around her neck. It was a completely different scene that occurred in the same room in the not so distant past.

The nurses and doctors at Citrus Memorial Hospital were absolutely wonderful to us. We joke about looking forward to our “vacation” next year, but we both know I need a break from the preggo scene. For now we are going to enjoy our time with our family and revisit the topic of trying for a boy for another season.

Thanks for taking the time to read our post. Labor, delivery and birth in the time of COVID-19 was a success and we are ever so grateful for all the blessings our family has received during these scary times.

Peach Cobbler and More…

If I can’t laugh at a situation, I would be crying.

As this pregnancy begins to wind down, I have gone into full on nesting mode. I am 33 weeks along. There are days when I felt like I lived in the kitchen, but I’m sure you are realizing now that this post isn’t just about peach cobbler.

We have lived in our current rental for over a year and a half, but it hasn’t really felt like home until now.

There have been so many changes since 2018. My kids and mother have had to adjust to having Anthony in their lives. The adjustment to Step dad and then being called Dad has been at times an intense process, but a loving one. He loves my children as his own and shows it daily. He goes above and beyond looking after their needs and their well-being. They will always go to him before me when they need to talk or need some advice. I am forever grateful for all that he does.

I have come to realizations time and time again that a marriage cannot simply be based on a religious preference or a hobby (for me it was running) it must come straight from the heart. I didn’t understand the true meaning of loving someone until he came into my life. He continues to teach me things every day.

During my first marriage, I was ridiculously and meticulously religious. Judgemental much? Yes, all the time! I was concerned about what others thought me, my husband and my children. Individually and together. I wanted my children to dress in clothes that matched (not to their liking) and with perfectly coiffed hair. Being a mother of 2 daughters, they weren’t having it. It resulted in them getting a bob haircut. Easy to clip back and to brush out. My dreams of having children with hair nicely braided or ponied was a thing of the past. They would dress how I wanted them to dress, but how they acted at times and how their hair would look when not freshly brushed was beyond my control. I thought people were judging everything on the surface, like the house I lived in and what we drove around in. It’s a funny wake up call when you realize that people weren’t all that concerned about you, but about themselves.

I used to laugh and a giggle at EVERYTHING (even things that aren’t meant to be funny), which psychologically speaking, says an individual who does that is really unhappy. I have always said if I couldn’t laugh at a situation I would be crying. That alone could not be further from the truth.

Anthony made me see how I really was. I was selfish, self-centered, short-tempered, and controlling. I’m sure that I still am all these things, but just less intense. Let’s just say I am more aware of my shortcomings. Not running and my addiction to it made me finally turn around and face my issues head on. Our road together has NOT been easy, but there’s no other person I would go through this life than with him.

Peach Cobbler Recipe

There are many variations to this family favorite. I have used, peaches, pears, and a frozen bag of triple berries (blueberries, raspberries and blackberries). When using canned fruit/frozen fruits with no additional sugar added. You can use a 1/2 Cup of sugar for every cup of canned/frozen fruit used. If using frozen fruit, place fruit and sugar in a small saucepan and heat until fruit is thawed and sugar is dissolved before pouring it over the batter.

Prep Time: 10 minutes

Cook Time: 350 degrees for 45-55 min.

Ingredients:

8 tablespoons butter

1 Cup Sugar

1 1/2 Cup Flour

2 1/4 tsp baking powder

1 1/2 C. Milk

1- 29 ounce can sliced peaches in syrup

Cinnamon (to sprinkle on top)

Preheat oven to 350 F .

  1. In a 9″ x 13″ casserole dish place 8 tbsp in dish and put it in the oven while it’s preheating.
  2. Mix flour, baking powder and sugar and slowly whisk in milk.

2. Take out baking dish from oven and pour in batter.

3. Gently place peaches and syrup over the batter.

4. Sprinkle cinnamon and bake until top is golden brown. It took mine 55 minutes. Put on a dollop of whip cream or a scoop of ice cream and enjoy.