Don’t Yuck Someone Else’s Yum

cherrypiecokeI’m not sure why I thought a bike ride on this 90 degree Washington, DC afternoon sounded like a good idea. I wanted to exercise and suggested to my daughter that we ride to one of our favorite lunch spots. I knew the route was hilly and after our successful ride a few days prior knew she could easily manage a 5 mile ride. What I didn’t realize is that she isn’t used to riding up hills. After the first hill where she so proudly raced past me and beat me to the top, she asked me to ride home and get the car. I talked her into making it to the lunch spot. Turns out she only had a piece of cake for breakfast and was running on fumes.

My mom is the one that originated the dessert is a fine breakfast idea. I grew up knowing my mom’s favorite breakfast was cherry pie and coke. While I had no interest in it growing up, my husband laughed when I told him the story because he said I have sanctioned cake for breakfast for years. However, I wouldn’t have only eaten cake before a bike ride!

After we eat, my daughter feels better and tells me after we complete the second big hill on the way back that she’s telling herself “Your mom didn’t raise a quitter, so don’t you quit!” I am a pleased to hear it at first, but then share with my daughter that it sounds like negative encouragement or as a sports psychologist once called it “stinking thinking”. I ask her if she might consider another more positive phrase that would encourage her?

That is when she tells me “Don’t yuck someone else’s yum.” I turn that over in my head a few times and realize what a great point she just made. I also realize that I give this courtesy to others, so why aren’t I giving it to my daughter?

I have learned so much on my journey as a caregiver. I learned to watch without judgement, to not let things that I could not control drive me nuts, and to let others find their way. Now I need to learn how to balance those lessons with being a mom. Challenged 

Voices of the Sandwich Generation Dementia has Fueled

huffpostI was interviewed by Nancy Redd with Huffington Post who did a story on Parents Who Care For Parents With Alzheimer’s. She interviewed three of us, all at different stages with parents who have dementia and all with children.

You can watch the video interview and hear from:

  • Kathy Ritchie @MyDementedMom (Phoenix, AZ) Blogger at My Demented Mom; Writer. Kathy has a toddler.
  • Kay Bransford @kay_bransford (McLean, VA) Blogger at Dealing With Dementia; Chief Curator at MemoryBanc. I have an 11 and 16-year-old.
  • Susan Poulos (Greensboro, NC) Caring for Mother with Alzheimer’s; Freelance Writer. Susan’s boys are now considered adults.

It was interesting to hear the stories and I hope you will watch. Shared. 

I don’t understand why you are so upset

ImstuckAs I am walking out the door to get myself and kids flu shots, I see a message on my phone. As I listen to the voice mail,  my husband reminds me we only have a half-hour to get to the doc-in-a-box before it closes. It is the only one in the area that even had flu shots left.

The voice mail is from the director at my parent’s retirement community. She is calling me from her home to let me know that the staff saw my parents leave in a cab after they refused to serve them wine with dinner.

I quickly call the town home and my mom answers. “Mom, what’s up?” – I try to say as calmly as I can manage. My mom whispers “I don’t know why we are here, you father wanted to come. I know we shouldn’t be here.”

I offer to drive over pick them up and take them back to their retirement community. I’m relieved to hear my mom knows they should not be at the townhouse, but flustered that they are there.  My mom tells me my dad is in bed and she does not think he will go back tonight. She asks if she should she put him on the phone; I manage to reply “Sure”.

In the background, my husband understands what is going on and starts on his way to get the kids in the car. I feel my blood pressure increasing. My patience has been replaced by aggravation.

As I speak with my dad, I can hear the stress in my voice. All I wanted to do was go get my children flu shots and now I’m concerned about my parent’s safety at their town house. My dad tells me they came to the town house because this is where they live.  In the background my husband is loading the kids into the car and backing out the driveway.

So many emotions are rolling through my head. Anger, dismay, concern, frustration. My dad says to me “I don’t understand why you are so upset.” During this conversation, I’m flagging my husband down to let me in the car so I can get my flu shot. I tell my dad I’m too overwhelmed to even begin to answer his question now.

My dad asks me for a ride tomorrow, I tell him yes. It’s inconvenient how my parents are behaving. While I know they don’t realize the duress they are causing me and my family, I am not yet ready to cut off the support I can extend to them to help them make this transition. But I recognize, most days, my parents are not interested in trying to make any transition. They want everything to stay the same.

The manner in which they react to any help or concern some days seems like they are trying to make it easy for me to walk away. Troubled.