That my friends is a loaded question. Did I every truly stop being a mom?
NO. I have always been a mom. But I will say, there were times I was not a mom first. I was a caregiver, therapist, nurse, occupational therapist, respiratory therapist and many other rolls I’ve had to fill. Somedays…mom was the last one on the list.
I know you probably can’t in any way relate to this. I am sure if you are a mother you are sitting there maybe feeling appalled that I could even admit to that.
Unfortunately for me, its the truth. And I still wonder to this day if I made the mistake of doing it all and not reaching out for more help.
Sometimes I could say the rolls I had were much like a schizophrenic. It depended on the need, it was the mask I had to put on. Being a mom in certain situations was not what was best for Braden.
I ALWAYS loved him like a mom, I mean there is NO love like a mothers love. Nothing ever wavered that.
But if I needed to become a hard nosed meanie boots…..being a mom wouldn’t cut it. You see as a mom, watching your child struggle, seeing them cry, feeling their pain all you want to do is take it all away. Unfortunately thats not in their best interest. Taking away that pain would never help him get better. Refusing all those treatments, hard work and dedication would not bring him to a state of health and happiness. The tears he shed were all for a good cause. A necessary cause…his life~
One of the hardest things I have ever had to do as a mother is shut off my mommy and pull out my therapist, nurse, doctor, physiotherapist roles…that my friend is what I mean by schizophrenic. Watching him cry through tracheostomy changes, Nasogastric tube changes, chest tube removals, therapy appointments, needles, range of motion, surgeries and overall pain as a mother was devastating. If I didn’t have the ability to see those things as they were, to better him, his health and over all well being then I too would have been distraught, crying and angry, What good would that have been for him?
It was in those moments, and please be kind when I say “I wasn’t his mom”. Not in the sense that only sees him a baby boy that’s hurting. From the moment he was reintroduced to me, in ICU with all those tubes, wires and noises I never once saw those things. I only saw my son.
We are almost 25 years post accident, post all those experiences that have led us here. When I look back, and really think about some of the choices I made I do believe some mistakes were made. If i were to ask my mom or Paul if they felt the same, they would disagree. I didn’t want any one else’s hands on my child. I didn’t want others opinions, input or expectations placed on me. Looking back that had more to do with me and my insecurities than it did with needing or wanting the help. I really wasn’t open to others coming into my home, I was very protective of him. No one could do the job better than I. So, I did it all. And today I am paying the price for that.
I suppose when I think about it, back then the guilt I lived with was astounding. It was loud, it was the loudest noice, voice, thoughts, feelings in my mind. It’s all I ever heard. “Look what you did” “He is paralyzed because of you”….It has taken me a lot of time and energy to let that go, its not completely gone but it is something I work at a every single day.
I felt during those years that I did this to him, so its my job and my job only to take care of him.
I gave myself a life sentence, and it was the biggest mistake of all. Because of that mind frame, many more mistakes followed.
If i were to mentor my 23 year old self, suffering through the most devastating time in my life I would tell that young lady to get more help. I did have a wonderful support system. Please don’t get me wrong, my parents were amazing. The didn’t skip a beat when it came to the things we needed. They stepped up like no other people in the world. My husband is/was by far the rock in all of this. He never gave up hope and he constantly supported each phase we faced. Someday I will do a blog post on just him, he really is the most remarkable man in the world. I do remember however, not putting expectations on him. I would feel if Braden became ill, or needing tending too..regardless of how tired I was I never expected Paul to get up and tend to him. I would jump up and do it. Immediately I felt like I did this to Braden, why should Paul have to stop what he is doing and tend to him. It was a life sentence I gave to myself, maybe it was punishment? I don’t have the right to sit and relax, I did this. Get up and take care of what you did. I silently lived this way for so many years. Sad.
I wish I would have hired more people to help. So many “get togethers” in the summer time, where I would be in control of the company, food, drinks, snacks, kids, parents and Braden. I was exhausted. If Braden wanted in the pool, I had to undress him, I would change him, put him in the pool and stay close to him. Then run to get drinks or freezes for our company. I ran, all the time. Then I’d get Braden out of the pool, dry him, dress him and transfer him to his wheelchair or motorized vehicle. Then I would be off again, tending to company, trying to hold down a conversation with whoever’s mother was sitting patiently while I ran around like a mad woman all after noon.
Keep in mind I still have another child, who thank goodness wasn’t needy. Or maybe that child just new not to ask much of me because she could see in mommy’s face how tired she is. Huge Mistake.
I should have hired more help. I should have had more staff available. People to come to birthday parties with me, so I could sit and enjoy those around me. Someone to attend play dates with me, so they could tend to all Braden’s needs. He needed help interacting with other children. Someone always had to be available to help him, sometimes Kailey did, sometimes his friends did but mostly I did. I never wanted to put anyone “out”.
All those hats I wore, each one of them chipping away at the only role I should have been…mom~
To this day, nearly 25 years later I still don’t know if given the chance would I do it differently. I’m not sure. But if I was going to give someone in a similar situation advice, it would be to hire more help. Give yourself a break, and take care of you~