Eric was placed into the perfect woman’s arms.
I never really think of my mom as a “special needs mom”. I think of her as “my mom”, but she is way more then that. She is a woman who would give you the shoes off her feet, jacket off her back, her last drop of her favorite drink on a hot day, the last bobby pins from her drawer, or her last free second she has to herself. I shouldn’t even say she would because really, she does all of those things. She takes care of every one! She is my brother’s primary care giver, she takes care of me, my sister, my dad, my dad’s brother, my dad’s brother’s caregiver, my dad’s dad (and before his mom), my cousins, her friends that started out as her tenants, my friends, my friend’s parents, members of her church, …. The list goes on. On top of that she NEVER complains or gives up.
My mother’s motherhood has been different then most. Once I got over my “too cool for you mom” stage and started seeing my mom through a different “grown up” lense, I began to appreciate her more then ever. I know that she yearns for more time with friends and family. She gets SO happy when she gets to see me. She will even drive 45 miles out of the way to bring me laundry that I left at her house. And I know that if she could, she would join that zumba class that goes on once a week in her community. But being a special needs mom, she is always with my brother. Up until a few months ago, she had no extra help! As I have said she doesn’t only care for my brother, she is constantly thinking of others which doesn’t leave her the time to nurture and maintain the relationships that SHE really needs.
Do you remember when you were a younger child, or when you had toddlers… how you had to get in the car when your mom needed groceries. Or be walked to the park when you wanted to go outside? Eric basically needs a babysitter 24 hours a day at 22 years old… so when my parents want to go to a concert, they bring him a long. Or when they want to celebrate their 50th wedding anniversary in Idewilde… they bring him a long. My parents haven’t spent a night away together from Eric in years.
Getting out is tough. I know dates have gotten harder since both me and my sister moved out. Special needs parents have to work extra hard to preserve their marriages. And because there isn’t much time for friends, my mom has to rely on my dad to kind of be her BFF. . . . and you can only imagine how well that goes. He is supportive, patient with my brother, and loving. Eric would be totally lost without him. Sometimes (more so when he was younger) Eric would wait up and sit in the garage until my dad’s car pulled in at the end of his long days at work.
My mom lost her sister to breast cancer way too early. She also lost her mom way too early. My aunt’s three children lost their mother to breast cancer and their father to alcoholism so my grandma stepped in as their mother…. She recently told my mom “Your three kids are lucky they have you… and my three kids are lucky they have me.” ….. but who does that leave my mom with. I feel like because my mom is so strong, independent, and it seems like she has everything under control—my grandma just let her fly on her own wings. But everyone needs their mom. I know she worries under the surface.
In an effort to shorten my posts up, I’ll end with this. My mom hasn’t ever heard the phrase “I love you” from Eric’s mouth but she is fluent in transforming the language of touch. When Eric puts his head on your head and “pat pats” your back, you know your getting looooved on! I know that she savors the gift of having her children tell her that they love her.
So my lesson tonight is to go ask the people who care for you how they are doing. Go give them a hug. Tell them you love them. Because chances are they just need someone to try to understand the overwhelming conflict of emotion that comes from trying so hard to be everything to everyone.