How the Time Flies

I remember the moment so clearly.  I was a mom of three small boys ages 4, 3, and 1.  It was a beautiful spring day so the boys and I packed up the stroller to walk down to our park.  As the older boys ran and jumped and played, I pushed my giggling little guy on the baby swings.  Not meaning to eavesdrop, but being too close to avoid hearing, I listened in on a conversation between two moms.

While the one mom pushed her daughter in a nearby swing, her friend, frocked in a baby carrier that held a baby 3-4 months of age, lamented about being a mom.  I listened as the two conversed about the challenges and sacrifices of being a mom.  The inconvenience.  The trouble.  The bother.

It’s been 14 years since I was privy to that conversation, and while I fail to recall all of its details, I remember, verbatim, the final sentence the two shared as they walked away: “I can’t wait.  I only have 6 more weeks until I get this kid into daycare and get my life back.”

I remember feeling such a sense of sadness for that young woman.  I suppose the long days and sleepless nights had taken their toll.   Less time at the gym, pulled back ponytails, heels pushed to the back of the closet, and showerless days likely left her longing for the life before.  I remember seeing her little baby and wanting so badly to tell her, “You’re not an inconvenience.”

Lord willing, that woman’s little baby is now around 14 years old.  I am thinking of them this Mother’s Day weekend.  I’m wondering if that mom ever embraced being mom and wondering if that child feels like an inconvenience today.  I hope not.  I pray that parenthood has changed that young mom.

Oh, how I wish that the older me could have been at the park that day.  How I wish the older me, now with years of parenting under my belt and an 18 year old stepping into adulthood, could have been there to look that mom in the face and say, “Enjoy these moments.  Embrace parenthood.  Love the time with your children for it will fly by quicker than you realize.”

And how true the old cliche is: “Time flies.”

It’s a big year for my oldest and a big year for me as a mom.  My son turned 18 just a few weeks ago; he’ll graduate high school in a few short weeks, and then will begin his college studies.  It’s all kind of surreal for me.  As he transitions, so must I.

The other day I was flipping through my oldest son’s scrapbook collecting photos for a graduation slide show.  Everyone was out and there I sat, on his bed, crying as I flipped each page.  They were tears of joy mingled with a bit of sadness.  Tears of awe.  Tears of thankfulness.  Tears of gratitude to the Lord for the life he has given me, for the children He has gifted me with, for the time He has permitted.   The time has gone by so fast.  And now I am left trying to adjust my vision, adjusting it to see men, not boys.

Maybe you are that mom today, the one who is overwhelmed, tired, and feeling a bit of a loss of self.  Your days of Cheerios, dirty diapers, and sleep deprivation are difficult.  You wonder if this thing called motherhood is worth is.  Today let me be that somewhat older woman who tells you, yes, it is so worth it!    Let me be the one to tell you that this season in life is full of challenges but it is such an important time.  Let me say that parenting is hard but the calling is great.  Let me remind you that the time will be a blur and in a few years, like me, you will be wondering where it went.  Embrace the time.






When Dementia Steals Mother’s Day

It was Mother’s Day two years ago.  My mom had come to my home for dinner.  We exchanged flowers and cards with one another.  As I pulled my card from its envelope and read the inside, I paused.

“Love, Barbara”

That’s my mother’s name.  She had signed her card to me with her name, not mom.

It was that moment…the moment that I realized that my mother no longer knew who I was.

Since that time I have been going through the motions of mourning the loss of my mother.  Although she is still with us in body, she has passed away emotionally and cognitively long ago.  It has been a long, slow progression.  Through the years her forgetfulness and disorientation have eventually given way to panic and fear as everything and everyone around her have transformed into strangers.

Dementia has stolen my mother, has swept her away, has emptied her of everything but breath.   Its arms hold her, not in comfort, but in prison.   Dementia has snatched her sight and clouded her vision.  It replaces the faces of loved ones with the visages of foreigners who are aliens in her land.  Like a thief in the night, dementia comes and ransacks, raids, and pillages memories, names, faces.  It drains motivation, will, and life leaving only the comfort of a wing chair, a wall, and a world of silence.  Dementia has robbed the world of a mother, a grandmother, a friend, a co-worker, a neighbor.

Dementia has taken so much from my mother…from us… and left behind so little.  All that remains is a shell, a reminder of the life that once was.

As I was working on this post, the Lord laid on my heart a little object lesson of sorts.  It was a much needed reminder for me.

I’ve always loved the ocean.   There is a calmness in the sound of the waves, a serenity in the water lapping over your feet.  The refreshing ocean breeze seems to infuse one with peace.   My favorite moments at the beach are spent combing the sand for shells.  I’ve always admired the colors and shapes of each one.  They are little treasures that the ocean brings forth and the handiwork of the Lord.  I’m always sure to bring home shells from each beach excursion we have.  My prize find was a shell that I picked up on the Gulf Coast of Florida: a Lightning Whelk.  While not large in size (it only fits within the palm of my hand), this shell is completely intact with brilliant colors and stunning patterns.  I remember finding the shell tumbling in the tide.  I snatched it up and ran to my family like a little child; I was so excited to share my treasure.

As each of us was examining the shell, I explained to my then young boys how that shell had once held life within its curved walls.  That shell was a beautiful home for a creature of the sea.  But in the cycle of life, the creature either moved out in search of a larger shell, or most likely, was eaten or died.  What remained was an outer shell, beautiful and vibrant, yet fragile and lacking life.

That empty shell is much like my mom.   Even though the mom that I have known continues to fade away, even though living life has been replaced with mere existence, there is still beauty to be found in the shell that remains.   While my mom may no longer recognize my face or know me to be her daughter, I can choose to look past that and opt to remember the life that once was and try to honor the life that still is.

So this Mother’s Day I will choose to not allow dementia to steal the day.  I will allow it to remind me that all life is precious, that all life is important, that all life has purpose.  I will use it to  remind myself that my mom is a child of God and that He loves her dearly.  I will hold fast to the knowledge that dementia doesn’t take Him by surprise.