Negative or Realistic?

Do you tend to think positively? Are you immediately optimistic when life throws you a curve ball? This is not my best trait I must admit. I tend to think a little more pessimistic than optimistic. It is something I would like to change and sometimes I am good at my efforts to change and sometimes I am not.

One area that I seem to struggle with positive thinking is where Mom is concerned. Dad and Mom are meeting with their therapist tonight. Dad called me today and left me a real uplifting message about how he had spoken with the therapist and he had some great ideas and he felt good about everything. His outlook was better than this time yesterday afternoon when he felt frustrated. I must admit I struggle with this. I don’t know if I am just being pessimistic, if Dad is being overly optimistic…or if one of us is being realistic and the other isn’t. But I have my doubts. I guess I just feel like not much is going to change where Mom is concerned because she doesn’t want things to change. And I feel I am admitting that to myself. But when I talk to Dad and hear him so optimistic about Mom improving I begin to feel like I am just being negative. Like I am not thinking positively. I feel wrong for thinking in this way but I don’t know how to change it…or the big question of if I really should change it.

Do you ever struggle to think positive about something after so many negative moments in the past? Do you think sometimes we can mistake negative thinking with realistic thinking? Do you think we should always strive to think positively?

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The Paper Timing of Life

I am old school and still love my hand written pocket calendar.I like to get out my pen and fill in the dates of a new year. I like to use my pen to cross of the days that have passed. It is how I keep appointments and keep my life organized. My calendar is one of my most favorite things I own. I also love watching my calendar fill up. I get a thrill out of a busy schedule..every once in awhile.

I noticed while I was home that Mom also seems to love calendars. She owns three. She has her Thomas Kinkade calendar which is more of a wall piece of art in the kitchen than actually used as a calendar. She has a white board calendar that sticks to the fridge that does most of our household managing. Last but not least she has has this wooden calendar she has been ordering paper refills to fill up for at least 20 years. This calendar organized our household activities for pretty much my entire childhood until we got the white board one. Now I feel really old.

But I think calendars are magical. Dreaming about the future. What kind of events or appointments will fill up the days. I have also noticed during times of high stress I don’t pay as much attention to mine because it tends to stress me out. I don’t anticipate the next activity or cross out the days as religiously as I normally would. I think I try to block out the passage of time.

With Mom’s MS I feel I have become increasingly more aware of the passage of time. I look towards future months and wonder how Mom will be doing. I look back a few months at how she was doing and where we are today. I can pinpoint her health by looking at events and remembering how she was health-wise when we attended them.The journey of MS can’t be chronicled into appointments and events. It lands on the unexpected. It can squash all other appointments and events in its path. Mom’s MS has a mind of its own and in no way respects or cares about my pocket calendar and my plans.

But I continue on dreaming¬†filling in my calendar. And so does Mom. Because at the end of the day you have to live. I read a quote recently about travel but I think it also applies to my life: “You have to fail to plan and plan to fail.” So I sit here with my calendar knowing that it could all be flipped on its head in a split second…but for now, it is all organized neatly into its dates and times all wrapped up in its maroon cover.

My 2013 Pocket Calendar

Do you keep a paper calendar or an electronic one? Why do you prefer one over the other? Have you ever been excited about being busy with plans? Does looking at all the days of the year and all the changes that could happen ever overwhelm you? Do you enjoy filling in the dates of your calendar too?

My Two Moms

I am working through a lot of feelings in my mind over the past 24 hours. I am trying to find a way to somehow get a grip on the changes going on with Mom. As I sat in Mom’s doctor’s office yesterday while she was getting upset at Dad and me I had this realization- this is not Mom speaking, this is MS speaking. It reminded me of what I used to say to my Grandpa when my Grandmother who had Alzheimer’s would be so mean to him- it’s not her, it’s the Alzheimer’s.

It is incredibly difficult for me to on one side be so angry at Mom but then on the other side I am laughing and talking about meaningless stuff. I can’t hate her. She is my Mom. I am not going to cut her out of my life. She is my Mom. I’m not going to stop speaking to her. She is my Mom. But in the same breath, as I sat there yesterday and watched her I couldn’t help but think, this isn’t my Mom.

In a perfect world I wouldn’t have to split these two identities up. In a perfect world Mom would cope with the fact that she has MS and start to accept it and deal with it instead of lashing out with such anger and borderline depression. But I don’t live in that perfect world. In my world I have a Mom who sometimes is the most wonderful Mom in the world and is the woman who is one of my best friends and confidante. Then it flips and I have a Mom who is angry, depressed, hurting, upset and creates a person who I don’t recognize. A person who I struggle to understand and a person who makes me angry in return.

I am not sure if it is the right frame of mind to take or not, but for the next few days I am going to try it out. Try to rationalize my two Moms to see if it can help me get a grip on the mix of emotions I am currently feeling.

**I can’t thank you enough for the support I received from such wonderful readers yesterday. Your comments, feedback and support meant the world to me. I pour my heart out on this blog and I never know how it will be received or how it will be taken by others. I am finding that I have made my own friends here in this virtual world as I navigate this sticky part of my life. You come here to listen to me share and not to judge. It means so much. I wanted to say thank you for being part of my journey in dealing with my Mom’s MS.**

Have you ever seen two distinct and conflicting personalities in someone you love because of a disease? Do you think this is a good or bad approach to try to take?

Thankful for Feeling Sad

I stayed up very late last night making cake balls to take to Husband’s family’s Thanksgiving. So I am tired today and my head is not working properly. I can make the cake balls portion but it is the bark melted covering on the outside where I have issues making them look presentable and not a disaster.

Then Sister K called since she is home and we all used “Face Time” on the iPhone to late night chat. So one thing led to another and it was midnight before I went to sleep.

Being married is tough for me around the holidays because we have to split time between my family and Husband’s family. So far we have just been alternating Thanksgiving with his family, Christmas with mine, then switch the next year and so on….so this year it’s Thanksgiving with his family and Christmas with mine. But it doesn’t change this tiny feeling inside of me as I head off to celebrate a holiday without my family- I miss them. To put it even more simply- I miss my Mom. Mom has always had a way of making the holidays special. They have always been low-key occasions but special at the same time. A very come one, come all..you are not a guest in our home, you are automatic family. It’s hard to imagine everyone eating Thanksgiving without me. Sitting around our kitchen table in that green ivy filled kitchen. Getting recipes together, making drinks, snacking on appetizers, all of it.

I know these are simple memories. Our holidays have changed some in part because of Mom’s MS. We don’t make all of the food anymore but order some of it from a local restaurant. We have done this to make things easier…to make things less stressful on Mom and that is fine by us. We are easy to please. But the point though is even in its imperfect state, the holidays at home with my family are perfect to me. And today I have a tiny twinge of sadness that I am trying to mask with a smile on my face. But I am thankful for that sadness. Thankful I love my family enough to miss them at the holidays and thankful for the blessing of them this Thanksgiving.

What are your plans for Thanksgiving? How do you divide your time between families? Do you do all your own cooking or buy anything pre-made? So thankful for my readers! Wishing you a wonderful Thanksgiving!

My Twinkie Filled Childhood

You have probably heard that the Twinkie is in trouble since the company that creates them is filing for bankruptcy. Thinking of Twinkie’s made me nostalgic thinking of my childhood. Thinking of Mom buying Twinkie’s for Sister K and me, as well as those cream-filled chocolate cupcakes with the white wirl on top. Nostalgia.

It seems hard these days to reminisce about the past when I look at where we are now. Finding the balance in my head adjusting to Mom from childhood and Mom now. How she has changed. How our roles have changed. I know growing up can be painful but I guess I never expected to be dealing with a Mom with MS in the midst of it. It goes back to my struggle with expectations. Setting expectations and the disappointment when the expectations don’t come to fruition.

But here I am in the present. Looking at an image of a Twinkie and thinking about my childhood house. Thinking about my childhood in general- a Barbie house in the dining room, a Fisher Price kitchen set in the kitchen, constant dance performances in the living room and never ending afternoons spent in dress-up clothes. My memories are magical. They are free of stress. They are blissful. They are the polar opposite of life today. But in many ways, maybe that is the way it was supposed to be. Maybe those care free afternoons at home were teaching Sister K and me valuable lessons in becoming good people- the kind of people who would one day help their Mom deal with MS. The kind of people who wouldn’t walk away from their Mom in the midst of distress but instead would run to her no matter how difficult it was at times.

Thank you Twinkie’s for being part of my childhood and part of my memories. Thank you for playing a part oh the journey that prepared me to be the person I am today.

Do you have any childhood snack treats you fondly remember? Do you find it painful to grow up sometimes? Are you a fan of Twinkie’s? Husband informed me he was more of a “Little Debbie guy.” I was shocked.

The Changing Faces of Shopping

I know it’s a little early to begin talking about Christmas but I think it is acceptable to start talking about Christmas shopping. Specifically in my family, Christmas shopping has definitely evolved.

Mom has always loved Christmas and growing up I would hear her brag to her friends about how her Christmas shopping was done by July. I can envision her driving around in her minivan while we were at school buying things for people as she saw them and then hiding the gifts in the back of her closet. That vision seems like a long time ago. It makes me nostalgic but I find it important to remember those memories.

The point through is now instead of driving around, Mom opens her iPad and shops around all while sitting at the kitchen table. She tells us to email her “links” instead of the traditional handwritten Christmas list. And though the methods of obtaining the gifts may be different, she still feels useful and in charge of Christmas gifts just like she always was. This is important. It’s another way we fight to to continue living as we always have and another way thanks to modern technology Mom can still feel like Mom…especially at Christmas.

How do you holiday shop? Are there little responsibilities in your life like Christmas shopping that would be hard for you to have taken away? Do you prefer internet shopping? Have you started your Christmas shopping yet?

The Reality of Birthdays

Today is Mom’s 60th birthday. She kept saying leading up to her birthday this year that she wasn’t looking forward to it. She didn’t want to turn 60. But now here we are, ready or not it came and ready or not it’s happening. Sister K, Husband and I will be heading home tomorrow evening to celebrate with a family dinner.

We have had a lot of debate in our house over Mom’s birthday this year and the possibility of throwing her a party. Because 60 is one of those birthdays. It’s a big one and with big birthdays people sometimes have parties. We went back and forth over it and ultimately decided the timing wasn’t there for it. This is for a lot of reasons, most of which have to do with MS. Parties can be stressful and stress seems to flare up Mom’s MS. The two go hand in hand. As well, a lot of people haven’t seen Mom since her relapse and it would be stressful on her to know she was going to be seeing a lot of people for the first time. You also need to be on time to parties, primarily when they are your own. In case you are just tuning into this blog, my family is never on time for anything anymore. And on top of everything else but a very selfish reason- recently Sister K and I haven’t enjoyed seeing a lot of Mom’s friends.¬† Because when we see them we get asked a lot of questions about Mom and to put it bluntly we are just “over it.”

But I think this was one of those instances where we really did something in the best interest of Mom’s MS and really thought through the scenarios. I have to believe in the past we would’ve pushed ourselves to act as we always would have- succumbed to the pressure placed on us to throw a party and celebrate. Pressure placed on us by strange invisible voices, based on nothing in particular other than ourselves. So for the first time, we ignored the voices and blocked them out. We realized those ideas and plans don’t align with where we are at in our family. Mom never really made a decision one way or the other so in many ways we made it for her.

So instead we are going to go home and have a birthday dinner with just our family. Go out to a nice restaurant- probably be running 30 minutes late by the time we get out the door and it won’t matter one bit because it will just be us. Relaxed, carefree and celebrating Mom. To me it sounds like a perfect birthday considering where we are all at and a perfect way to honor Mom this year on her special day.

Happy 60th Birthday Mom!

Do you throw birthday parties for big birthday occasions? Do you ever feel pressure to celebrate and throw a birthday party for yourself or others? Would you consider this letting MS controlling our lives or being realistic with the MS in our lives? Do you think we made the right decision?