The Magic of the Beach

A recharge weekend. A brief but important escape. A sunburn souvenir. These are all the perfect ways to describe this past weekend. Husband and I headed to the beach for a quick mini-vacation before he begins the 2nd year of his MBA program tomorrow. I didn’t realize how much we needed the mini-vacation until yesterday as we were heading back.

This summer has been one focused on Mom. Husband was also out of town for an internship for most of it too. I know it may sound bad to say but this helped me to balance being a daughter during that tough time with being a wife. But, as Husband and I near our 2 year anniversary in a few weeks I don’t feel any more knowledgeable on that subject than I did when we first got married. That balance is something I am still trying to figure out. Even under completely uneventful circumstances I don’t believe it is something that would happen magically overnight. 

Mom’s MS brings a level of stress to my own life. Husband’s rigorous MBA program has also done the same. Both are out of my control but directly impact my life. Just as I felt Mom’s MS may be settling down, Husband’s job interviews are creeping up indicating a stressful time for us. It’s kind of like a seesaw and I just go back and forth between the two for the time being. It is also difficult balancing that because my roles in both situations are different. On the one hand I am a daughter and on the other hand I am a wife. They are roles I am still figuring out how to shift between on a daily basis as each one can require more of my attention at certain times.

This weekend at the beach helped tie all of this together for me.  I have memories at the beach with Mom and our family when I was younger. I have memories of vacations spent at certain hotels, playing in the ocean with Sister K and eating at our favorite restaurants. It was unique to share that with Husband but also create our own new memories. It was a way to bridge my childhood as a daughter to my adulthood as a wife. It was also a way for me to enjoy both roles without the stress that can come with them. Being at the beach took me back to the basics of life. Whether you are looking out at the ocean or playing in the waves it can be a big cure for a lot of different stresses. No matter what phase of life you are at, the beach is the one place you are never too old to enjoy.

Do you have multiple roles in your family you have learned to balance/shift between? Do you have any special places you went as a child and visited as an adult with different family members? What is your idea of a recharge weekend? Anyone have any remedies for sunburns? I am hurting today and imagine I will be all week. I put on sunscren in the morning but learned the hard way you have to always reapply…

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Hold My Hand

Meet Mom.  This was taken on my wedding day.  This is our relationship.  Holding hands. Supporting each other. Sometimes you don’t need words.  Sometimes you just need someone to hold your hand.  When Mom holds my hand I know everything’s going to be alright and in this moment with a squeeze of a hand that’s what she told me. 

Now I hold her hand as we navigate the muddy waters of MS.  And without words but with the squeeze of my hand I let her know I am here.   

Dad. Husband. Caregiver.

I can’t put into words the love and respect I feel for my Dad. I believe deep down he is the reason our family is surviving Mom’s battle with MS.  I have watched and continue to watch a transition as my father has become a caretaker.  It brings back unsettling memories because I just watched my Grandpa go throught he same thing with my Grandmother as she battled Alzheimer’s.  I watched as he became a caregiver to her and feel now I am watching Dad go through the same transition.  And it is hard to watch. 

Since this transition began I have felt my mind sharpened to the reality of marriage.  My family is not large and up until I got married these two men, were the biggest male influences in my life.  They still continue to be large influences as well.  As I got married in 2010 and said my marriage vows, they really meant something very personal to me because I felt I was watchingthe tough parts of those vows lived out everyday.  I understood the meanings behind the powerful words “for better of worse, in sickness and in health.”  I understood the meaning of a committment and what it can mean through the tough times. 

But I struggle with Dad’s transition in becoming a caretaker.  He basically is one but I prefer to believe he is transitioning because it is difficult to think of Dad and Mom’s relationship that way.  It is something I never gave much thought and if I did think about it, they were thoughts that this would not occur for many years from now.  I also struggle because this level of responsibility and constant caretaking can take a toll on anyone.  Dad will talk to me sometimes about what is going on and I don’t know what to say.  I don’t know how to offer support.  What I want to do is pack up and move back home.  I want to find a way to be there for my parents all the time.  I want to help him with Mom, be an extra set of hands for him and just provide extra help.  But this hasn’t been in the cards for me up until this point and I don’t think it is. 

So what can I do.  I feel helpless again.  I continue to feel helpless.  I feel helpless because the best way to offer assistance in this situation is to be there. I also feel helpless because there is no way for me to be there except for brief visits home on the weekends.  In the past year my husband began graduate school for his MBA so we moved about an hour and a half away closer to my hometown.  We were 4 hours away before.  This was a step.  But without physically being there, how do you offer assistance.  How do you help someone who is doing everything and you are doing nothing.  And he does it all- he takes care of Mom full-time day/night and works full-time.  He balances both of those responsibilities and he never complains.  So I complain for him because I know he must be exhausted.  I know he must struggle.  How does he do it I wonder.  How. 

I think it’s love that makes him do it.  It’s love that keeps him going, keeps him supporting Mom. Love is powerful but is it enough?  I still struggle with how I can help him.  How can I be there for him.  Going home more weekends, calling to give him a sounding board to talk to, reassuring him that what he is doing is so important and we are all here for him.  The struggle continues and it’s something I think I will struggle with for a long time.  But it’s a struggle because of the love I have for my family.  It’s a struggle because I want to be there for them as much as possible.  So while it is a struggle, it is a struggle worth having and one I should feel fortunate to feel at all.