As I gaze down at mom all settled in her bed with her blanket and her baby doll and I see her little smile – it brings a thought to mind. Perhaps in another reality it would make me laugh except for the fact that our visit is done, and it’s time for me to leave. So instead of laughter, it brings a lump in my throat and a glistening of tears to my eyes. I manage to catch them in my lashes, and not let them roll down my cheek.
The thought was – with the Alzheimer’s my mom is battling, her sense of boundaries has totally overstepped normal propriety. Since things have lifted a little bit with visitation at the home that she lives in, we are now getting to experience some of this change. We can finally go and visit her for our one hour twice a week scheduled visit. The unusual thing is that we find that when mom decides she’s done, she heads to bed. It doesn’t matter if we have been there for only 40 minutes – if there has been enough stimulation with conversation and activity, and she is mentally worn out – she just goes to bed. It’s kind of funny because on the one hand I feel a little offended like “seriously – you don’t get to visit with us that often” and you’re going to stop and go to bed? On the other hand it’s really quite adorable because it’s like a little one that is finished and knows that they need to shut down, so they grab their Blankey and they head for their bed.
Suddenly, as I hold the tears at bay – there is the realization of what a beautiful boundary that is!
When things are becoming too much you shut down instead of pushing yourself to a point where you no longer enjoyed the visit or whatever it was that brought you to this point.
So often we press on, feeling a sense of I don’t know, call it correctness?
We push through and do not listen to ourselves, because it isn’t ‘right’ or ‘proper’ to stop or cancel. We don’t listen to the warning signs that we have had enough. That can end up causing us to resent the situation that we are in. (Even though it was awesome to start with). It can cause us to even come across kind of ungrateful, as annoyance comes to the surface as our emotions begin to boil over.
There’s a saying that you can’t have too much of a good thing. But I have to say that I disagree.
For example, I noticed over the years with the kids that with certain friends there was a time limit on what managed to be a great play date or visit. Some friends could be together for two or three days and still be enjoying themselves, and be sad when they have to go. Other friends, the shelf life didn’t last that long! I knew when we would schedule these visits that when they come at me asking to extend the visit that I had to seem like the bad guy and say no. Because on the times that I didn’t, the visit ended in tears and fighting.
That was with children.
But what about us as adults?
Why is it that we can’t learn to set boundaries and protect ourselves?
Who says that we can’t be real and honest and say this has been great and let’s do this again soon and actually end a visit?
Who says that we can’t say no thank you I’m just not up for it today, even if it’s family?
Who says that we can’t listen to our inner voice and take care of ourselves, possibly also preserving a relationship that may have gotten damaged?
Mind you, this should be done politely, and with an explanation if at all possible. As the receiver, we also need to understand and respect that as well.
That’s the lesson that I got from my mom. She’s a pretty smart cookie.
And while it was hard to tuck her in and walk away, it was much better to do that then to push her to a place where she was uncomfortable and quite possibly would act out.
Thanks mom, I love you.
Photo credit: picture of mom with her blanket and her baby – that was me!
Picture of the baby crying is from Unsplash Photos photos the photographer is Muhammad Murtaza Ghani facebook.com/theartsylens076
As always thank you so much for reading, liking, commenting and sharing!