It has been over 3 years since my mother came to live with us and I started down the journey to becoming a full-time caregiver. I wrote these items on my previous blog hosted site, but I think they are vital for anyone who has become the full-time caregiver of a parent. I had had a baby less than a year before she came to live with us in our already crowded house. Without further ado, “A Life Re-imagined”.
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So, on this day, our son's 12th birthday, I decide it was time to sit down and write. The last few months have defiantly been some of the most trying times that I have ever endured, and I was an Army wife who survived deployments.
There is a long list of things happening in our busy household that have claimed all of mine and my husband's attention. I am determined though, to foster something of my own. First, I want to write our love story as I believe it is not only beautiful, but inspirational as well. Second, I want to document the life of a busy wife, mom, graduate student, and daughter to a mother suffering from dementia. I want to inspire, I want to share our victories and failures, and I want to let folks know that there is always hope through the tough times.
What has been weighing on my mind lately, my children and my mother. My husband and I have been blessed with 4 beautiful children. Within the last few months, we have been transitioning my mother into our home (a 55-year-old woman struck with frontal temporal dementia). To say the least, we are filled to the brim with people. I won't get into detail where everyone is located within our home, but know that everyone has their space, and all of it is defiantly legal. Back to our 4 children who are: one 12-year-old son (happy birthday today!!!), and 3 daughters (girls age 9, 3, and 9.5 months). If our schedule wasn't filled up before with appointments, errands, and events, it is now with the addition of their grandmother. The point of this (I begin almost breaking into tears) is that these children have done quite well. Our oldest children (12 and 9) are not perfect, no. They have a lot to learn yet about diligently cleaning and working hard, but that will hopefully come by the time they are teenagers. What they do, help with their younger sisters. Our oldest daughter can scoop up her baby sister and sit with her like a little mama. She helps with changing diapers, feeding, and calming her sister when she is upset. They help clean up messes from their toddler sister who struggles with potty training (set on by a traumatic accident months earlier and her need to get attention). Our son, helps get his grandmother her drinks, wakes in the middle of the night when grandma cannot find her way to the bathroom, and makes sure that grandma washes her hands thoroughly after she lathers her hand with soap (as if putting on antibacterial cleaner).
These children do not fully understand yet, the heart that breaks inside their mother as their grandmother fails to wash her hands or puts her clothing on backwards. This has become the new normal for our children, and I thank them for giving what they do to this family. I thank the Lord that His hand guides this family and has wrapped His loving arms around our children. They are the light of my life.
To this new journey we set forth on...Only through the Lord can I begin to endure.
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As a mother of three beautiful daughters, I have begun to look back on my life and began to wonder if I have the tools to raise them up to be strong, beautiful, honest and least of all, independent women. I investigate my own life and begin to dissect my shortcomings, and cringe at the thought of my daughters’ broken heart. I cringe at the thought of them meeting a man who does not honor their faults and love them unconditionally. I have a sense of anger when I think of them meeting someone who belittles them or worse, combines mental and physical abuse causing our daughter’s beautiful spirit to break. Worst of all, I worry that they will not be able to stand up to a man, have a broke heart, and come back out of it strong and more beautiful than ever.
So here it is, a woman should want a man and should strive to find a man with refusal to settle. Honestly, what do I mean, a woman should want a man who adores the woman she is (faults and all). I am not saying that a man needs to constantly give her everything she asks for. I am not saying a man should be a “yes man” or loose himself to keep her happy. What I mean is this, when a man truly loves a woman, he will yearn for her. He will want to learn for her, to make himself a better man. He should understand that she has value and treat her heart like it is a prized possession. I am not saying he will never break her heart, nor does this mean he will be without fault. Everyone is human, and everyone comes from different histories with their own set of stories and wounds. A man who truly loves a woman will challenge her; he will seek to encourage her. He will cause her to question herself, and aid in helping her find answers. A woman should want a man that she doesn’t have to change, but who will grow for her (notice I said not change for); she will want a man who knows when to stay silent and hold her when she cries, understanding that he cannot fix everything. He will not become angry at her tears; a woman should want a man who understands that his issue with her tears is his fault and not hers.
A woman should want a man who, if given daughters, should become the example of what a woman should look for in a man. A man should teach his daughters the value of a woman by example, loving their mother unabashed and wholeheartedly. If he is given sons, he will pass his wisdom to the next generation of husband and fathers. A man’s world will become her, and he will respect, love, and honor her so she will never doubt where he stands even when he pursues his own passions and dreams. She will come first; she will be his partner. A woman should want a man who learns to say, “I am sorry”, but she will have to understand that this is difficult, and together they should learn from their mistakes. A woman can be strong and independent; she can be a wife and mother. A woman should be able to depend on a man, but not become dependent on one. There is no “give away” when giving away one’s heart; it is not one or the other. A woman can rule the world and submit to the love of a man.
Relationships are beautiful; they were made in the Heavens before humans drew breath. Marriage is a union of two imperfect people, coming together to learn and grow. There is often confusion when looking to the Bible for understanding of how a man should treat his wife. Let us not be confused when the Bible states, “wives submit to your husbands as you do the Lord” Ephesians 5:22. This does not mean a woman does not have value in God’s eyes and in marriage. This is not a statement of enslavement. What follows is this Ephesians 5:28-33, “in this same way, husbands ought to love their wives as their own bodies. He who loves his wife loves himself. After all, no one ever hated their own body, but they feed and care for their body, just as Christ does the church— for we are members of his body. For this reason, a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and the two will become one flesh. This is a profound mystery—but I am talking about Christ and the church. However, each one of you also must love his wife as he loves himself, and the wife must respect her husband.”
I must laugh at the description my husband gave me the other day. He has noticed how I have grown in our relationship together, just as he has grown too. He is the tornado and I am the hurricane. He drops down, creates chaos then moves on, back up into the sky. He says that I start small, and give hints that I am coming, so be all should be prepared. Then I slam onto the coast and cause major destruction. What did he mean? Though not perfect, I have found a man who understands that I am a force to be reckoned with. I have grown, and he understands that to keep up with me, he must grow too. He knows that he must be prepared for the woman that I am now. I am a destructible force when it comes to protecting my family; he knows that I am strong even when I do not feel strong. He is a man who understands and submits to his love for a woman. He understands that he cannot get away with being less than a devoted husband, and he knows even though I will not leave, I will not become less than what God has intended me to be.
I pray our daughters, through their struggle, will understand these lessons and seek out a man who can enhance their joy in life because no one on this earth can fill a void or increase the value one already has in God’s eyes.
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