I took a flight last weekend and before take off I watched and listened as the flight attendants did their emergency monologue. They alerted me to all the details of the aircraft, pointed to the location of restrooms and showed me what to do with an oxygen mask in the event of an emergency. The message is simple if you really listen: be 2 steps ahead, be aware of your surroundings and be ready if there is an emergency. While listening this time I began to think about the amount of pressure I place on myself to be 2 steps ahead, to be aware of my surroundings and to be ready when I am with my mom outside of our home.
My mom now walks with a walker which has given a new dyanmic to our adventures outside the home. No matter where we are- the mall, a grocery store, a restaurant, a concert, even a football game, from the moment I get out of the car I immediately feel like I am on the lookout. I am aware. I am ready. I am looking for the easiest way for her to get inside, I am looking at the sidewalk to see where it slopes down so she can wheel herself up, I am watching out for cars to determine a nice gap that won’t make my mom uncomfortable when crossing the street. I am mentally 2 steps ahead. But it doesnt end there. Once we get inside I start over with a new list- the best way to leave when we are done, the easiest way to our table at the restaurant, which seat at the table is best for her, where can she sit on her walker in the store so she’s not in anyone’s way.
It’s a lot to think about constantly and I become overwhelmed at times. I really do mean well but I have an ability to stress everyone else around me because of it. My sister manages this better than me. She has always been better at managing the unknown in life, dealing with things as they come up. Not me. I am the planner and if I can’t be 2 steps ahead it is even scarier to live it in real life and dare I say feel 2 steps behind. Sometimes I think it’s ironic that I am a planner and the entire nature of MS mocks me because of it. Constantly. I am realizing the constant planning and constant thinking is exhausting. The only thing I can successfully predict is that I can’t predict how an afternoon at the mall is going to go. Regardless of my mom having MS, I will never be able to predict life.
So I try really hard to mentally relax, try to be more “go with the flow,” try to become comfortable with being 2 steps behind. I try to focus on the moment and not 10 moments from now. My mom having MS is teaching me this. Instead of one day at a time I need to take things one moment at a time. Easier said than done. I fail at this regularly. I fail at this more than I’d like to admit. But sometimes I don’t. Sometimes there is a day or a moment where I am successful. When I am I can see the happiness on my mom’s face and I can feel my own happiness in my bones. Not only did I make things easier on my mom but I made them easier on myself. I am learning to be more flexible and finding myself gaining greater peace of mind in the process. I’m trying to stay 2 steps behind one moment at a time.