I love the color purple. It is and always has been my favorite color. I remember when I got engaged one of my friend’s responded and said “time to order my purple party dress.” Yes, I had purple bridesmaid dresses. The specific color was plum. My wedding colors were plum and sage…also known as purple and green. Mom wouldn’t let me say purple and green and it reminded me of the famous scene from Steel Magnolias when Shelby says her colors are “blush and bashful” and M’Lynn responds by saying “her colors are pink and pink.”
Sister K’s favorite color actually is pink. And this has played a big role in our entire lives. Easter egg hunting- my eggs were always purple and Sister K’s were always pink. Picking out tops- Sister K would get pink and I would get purple. Birthday gift wrapping- Sister K’s was pink and mine was purple. You get the picture. And today Sister K and I have decided to embrace the silliness involved with each having a favorite color and try to wear similar outfits for certain occasions in these colors. We call it our best friend uniform. And the fact that bright colors have been so trendy has assisted us in this. Purple shorts/pink shorts, purple pants/pink pants, purple purses/pink purses. It is silly but it is fun for us.
It also brings a little bit of laughter to some otherwise tense situations. We may be struggling to get Mom in and our of the car but we are wearing our purple and pink shorts which lightens the mood or takes the attention off Mom. Our “best friend uniforms.” Outfits and colors Mom associated with each of us and continues to associate with us everyday. The best part of them is it is something Mom began when we were little kids and now we enjoy embracing it to bring back a sense of being Mom’s little girls once again. It’s a mother/daughter thing at its simplest.
Do you have a favorite color? Are you ever drawn to certain colors over others? Did your parents use your favorite colors throughout your childhood? Did you ever wear matching outfits with your siblings?
Yesterday marked 100 Posts. This one is officially 101. This is pretty exciting. I have come here 100 times to share my thoughts and you have come here to read my words.
This blog started as a little idea that was just sitting in the back of my mind. I kept trying to tuck it away but it kept resurfacing in weird ways. I had a long conversation with Husband about it and he thought I should try it out. Sister K was in full support and thought it may help me process everything going on with Mom.
What I didn’t expect is all of you. The people who come here everyday and read. The people who come here occasionally and read. The people who have only come once to read. Knowing people are reading my words at all means so much and I am so thankful. I hope you know that your presence is not lost on me.
What I also didn’t expect was for Mom to have her first relapse mere weeks after I first started this blog. How comforting it would feel to be sitting in a hospital room recliner by myself while Mom slept knowing that I had this virtual support team out there of people I had never met. I learned the power of support over that week and the weeks that followed.
So today’s post is for you. To say thank you to you. Thank you for stopping by and for supporting me along the way. Thanks for hanging out with me for my MSrecess everyday.
Can you believe the Olympics is over? I am kind of sad, thinking I am going to have some sort of Olympic withdrawal when I go home this evening and don’t have anything to watch. No more coming into work everyday asking co-workers if they saw particular events the night before, no more sitting on the couch every night cheering on the USA, no more obsessing over my favorite Olympians and following them on Twitter. It has all come to an end. In a way it is time to return to real life.
I, for one, really got into the Olympics this year, more so than I have in other years. There was something incredibly thrilling about watching the races, hearing the stories of the athletes and celebrating the victories alongside everyone I know since we were all cheering for the same team. The camaraderie. The support of a country behind you. It must be quite a rush for the Olympians.
It makes me think of myself and dealing with my own issues in my life. How important that camaraderie and support can be- whether you are on the large scale of an Olympic athlete or the small scale of a 28 year old trying to navigate the twists and turns of life. It can all come down to your performance in a particular moment. I sometimes feel the pressure of that performance in stressful moments with my family. You wait for your opportunity to say something and then you pray that when it comes you say the right thing. You pray that you are able to perform. You are also thankful for the support behind you in these instances. Even though that support team may not be present, you know they are out there. No one realizes how invaluable having a team of people rallying behind you can be until you face those big life moments- some are exciting, some are challenging, some are positive, some are negative- but the one thread they have in common is the importance of a support team in each of those instances.
How do you support your friends and family? Do you see the value of camaraderie in times of struggle as well as in times of thriving? How do you handle situations where you aren’t receiving the support you may need? Are you sad the Olympics is over? Did you enjoy cheering on Team USA every night? Did anyone else enjoy the Spice Girls performance at the Closing Ceremonies as much as I did?
I have had an outpouring of support on my blog today that I have not seen before. I am so thankful. I owe a lot of that to my regular readers out there. I also owe a lot of that to Patrick at Caregivingly Yours for the wonderful post he wrote about my blog today. A blog that has become more than a blog to me. A blog that has become a safe place to share my feelings, express the tough moments and remember the importance of the fun times.
When Mom was diagnosed with MS I headed straight to google. I am from the Millenial Generation meaning all of my problems and questions are supposed to be solved via google. But for the first time I couldn’t find what I wanted. I would google my mom has ms, help my mom has ms, what do I do my mom has MS, how do I cope with my mom’s MS and I could never find what I wanted. What did I want? I wanted to find someone I could relate to. I wanted to find someone who was similar to me. Someone who was close to their family, someone who understood the impacts of this disease on a family but also someone who was dealing with it. I wanted to know how they got through it? What did they do? Had they ever felt the way I did? In a sense I wanted a manual. Because like the phrase at the top of my blog says, “life didn’t give me a manual when it gave my Mom MS.” I would find resources for people with MS, people who had spouses with MS but nothing from children whose parents had MS. I was frustrated. If I did find something it was an angry message board post about how much they hated this disease and the awful impact it had on their family. I could relate to those feelings but there was nothing else. No sign of hope. No message of here’s how my family is dealing with it. It made me feel even more alone than I already did.
I didn’t want to feel alone anymore. I thought surely there has to be other people out there like me. People who are close to their family and just want someone else who can relate to what they are going through. The challenges and the tough moments but without forgetting about the laughs and the fun moments. My hope when I started this blog was to find a way to positively express my feelings. To show the tough moments but to also show the fun moments. To talk about how I was feeling or how things were going honestly and openly. Deep down I thought that maybe along the way I would meet someone who could relate or understand. I hoped that my blog would find its way to other people who may feel like I do. I think it may be doing that. I am so thankful. I sit here today feeling less alone with a big heart and a big thank you.
Thank you for reading and for coming back here to read again. Thank you for believing in my words enough to read past a first paragraph. Most importantly thank you for helping me to know I am not alone. Sister K and I are not alone and there are lot of other people going through the same feelings and emotions. I wish there was a bigger word to use but there isn’t. So I’ll say it again today: Thank you.
As I get older I am realizing how important certain friendships are in my life. At the same time I am also becoming more disappointed by certain friendships in my life. Growing up and friendships are a double edged sword.
I am not a person who has a million friends. I have a few close friends. But I would do anything for them. My friends are like my family. I know I can call on them when I need something and expect them to call on me when they need something. This is both good and bad. These are my friendship expectations. I have a problem with expectations as I admitted yesterday. When these expectations aren’t met I not only become upset but I feel deeply hurt. It takes me awhile to recover from it. To put it behind me. I am not saying this is a healthy approach. I am trying to actually work on this approach. Trying to allow myself to “let things go” easier than I do. But it’s hard. The “letting go”- that is a post for another day.
The point though is that I have been very private lately about Mom’s health. Especially with everything that began happening last week. At first I really didn’t want to tell anyone. I think in telling people other than Sister K, Dad, and Husband it became more real. I had to explain what was going on at a time when we didn’t know what was going on. I had to verbalize it. Then came Wednesday and I thought, you know I should probably update my friends on this. If they were in my shoes I would want to know if something had happened to one of their Moms. I’ll just send a few emails and then won’t think much of it. What I didn’t expect though is how good it would feel to read their responses. It was like a big email hug from friends who live anywhere from 2 hours away to hundreds of miles away. I read these emails and I let myself feel. It felt good to feel this love.
I am not a person who the second Mom went into the hospital I was updating my facebook status. That is not how I wanted to handle this. I wanted to handle it in my own way. I am dealing with something new to me and wanted to deal with it privately without a lot of outside attention. But I am also realizing it is nice to have support from other people outside of my family.
There is also a double edge to this. There are also the people who I thought would be there and be supportive that don’t step up. That part hurts. I think my mind tends to focus more on the half empty part. But the point is I need to find a way to block those thoughts out. I don’t need to think about them. I need to remember that. I need to stop the negative thoughts. I have so much going on in my life that if you are going to bring negativity to my mind I will block you out.
Simply stated, I don’t have time for negative. In reality no one should put up with negative thoughts or negative people in their life. It’s not worth it. But it’s especially not worth it in a time of crisis. It is in a time of crisis when you realize who those true friends really are. The ones who make you laugh, the ones who pray for you, the ones who say let me know what I can do, the ones who you can ask to send your Mom cards. Those are my friends. I need to focus more on these people. In the end these friends are the only ones that matter. It’s these friends who I can lean on and these friends who are going to rally behind me, support me, and get me through this.
Have you ever faced a crisis and realized the love and support you do have from your friends? Have you ever felt disappointed by a friend? Do you ever struggle with keeping the negative thoughts out?
Mom and Dad are going to go meet some of Mom’s college friends at someone’s ranch this weekend. Since Mom is an only child her college best friends are like sisters to her and she really enjoys these get-togethers. They have all had kids together and now we have become friends as well since we are close in age. It’s friendship at its finest. Telling these women about Mom’s MS was probably the hardest of anyone else she had to tell. She actually had Sister K and I send them an email explaining it because she couldn’t do it herself. They had seen changes in her, they were worried and they had begun to ask questions. She was afraid of what would happen when they knew and how they would react. Instead they have rallied behind her. They call and email to see how she is. Whenever we are all around they always keep conversation normal and don’t treat Mom any differently. They offer to come to our house and help even though they live in different cities. They are a group of people who have not only said they care but they’ve showed it. An interesting concept- saying you care and showing it.
Personally I have had a lot of people tell me they care. Tell me to let them know if I need anything. But the problem is they don’t maintain a close enough relationship that makes me comfortable enough to call on them. Through Mom’s diagnosis I have learned as well who my real friends are and who really cares. It’s been a painful process, one that’s still not over.
I get asked by Husband, what would you like people to do? The answer, I don’t know. I don’t know, but I know when they aren’t doing what they should do if they really cared. I want people to really mean it when they say they care. I want people to make Mom comfortable when she is around them. I want people to actually take Mom to lunch instead of just saying “I’m going to call you, we’re going to go to lunch.” I want people to keep in touch with my family better and not just want to know the details whenever we happen to run into them. In those same moments, I want them to stop with the quick reminders that they are there and they care. I also want them to stop offering the unsolicited advice of the 100 things Dad, Sister K and I should be doing or making Mom do. We are doing the best we can and if you really knew us, you’d know that.
I have learned it really is true what they say- Actions Speak Louder Than Words.
Yesterday I wrote about Mom’s dilemma regarding leaving the house with a friend in the afternoon since she didn’t have her walker. I resisted every urge inside screaming at me to problem solve. Instead I just backed off. I hoped it would work out alright. I also knew I didn’t have a choice except to let it resolve itself. It did, but not without chaos for my mom.
She said she took the walker she normally has inside our house out into the garage to wait for her friend to pick her up. In the process she knocked over our recycling bin and bottles went rolling everywhere. One of those bottles was glass and went rolling out into the street and broke. When her friend arrived she didn’t mind at all picking up the bottles and even picked up the glass pieces. This is friendship at its finest. My family has learned a lot about who our friends are through Mom’s diagnosis of MS, who we can count on, who we can share our pure moments and who Mom isn’t afraid to call to ask for help.
The entire situation makes me want to scream out of frustration because this is not the first time a tiny issue because a large one. I feel like when MS is involved, it turns rain into pouring rain; molehills into mountains; you get the drift. It makes life difficult. A simple mishap like knocking over a box of bottles becomes a huge problem and one that cannot be taken care of easily when you are by yourself. The entire situation made Mom stressed and frazzled. And rightfully so. It would make me stressed and frazzled and I don’t have MS. In the end she was happy she had decided to leave the house and spend the afternoon with friends.
In hindsight, there are lots of lessons to learn. We need to plan better to make sure Mom has what she needs if she is planning to leave that day. It’s okay for me to back off and trust a situation can resolve itself on its own. Most importantly, Mom has some great friends, people who have become like family to us. These friends hold our hands and are there for Mom because Dad, Sister K and I can’t always be there. These friends are little blessings sprinkled throughout our lives.