82: Foggy Blessings

82: Foggy Blessings

From Chicken Soup for the Soul: Family Caregivers

Foggy Blessings

Being considerate of others will take your children further in life than any college degree.

~Marian Wright Edelman

I was driving one day with both my teenage girls in the car. An intersection was ahead. The “fibro fog” was thick that day, and as I looked at the traffic light, I couldn’t figure out what it meant. The light was green, and my mind was blank—what did that mean? Approaching the light, panic rose in my chest—what was I supposed to do: go or stop?

“What does a green light mean?” I asked my girls.

They both shouted, “Go! Go, Mom, go!”

So I went. This was the first time I realized how serious the effects of fibromyalgia could be on my judgment. I had noticed lapses in memory or judgment, but at this moment in time, I realized how vulnerable I really was and that the consequences could affect my children in a significant way.

This was a turning point—I gave the kids, who were both licensed drivers, permission to “call me out” on my driving. If I seemed too tired or spacey to drive, they could tell me to pull over and take over the driving. Nowadays, I am better at telling beforehand if I am too fatigued or my mind is too cloudy to drive, and the girls accompany me on errands.

This turning point was one of many leading to a transition and change in my relationship with my kids. I am the mom. I am supposed to take care of my kids, not vice versa. I am supposed to be someone they can depend on, a financial safety net, the stable rock in times of trouble or turmoil. I was supposed to be the vibrant, active mom who participated hands-on in all their activities, the mom who filled up the van with kids, transporting them from one place to the next. But instead I struggled to make it to their plays, concerts, and award ceremonies. I would frantically go down a list of friends and people available to acquire rides to doctors’ appointments and social events. I struggled to make it to the grocery store, and dinner became whatever was “easy.”

I don’t know if other parents with chronic illnesses feel like failures. I know that I have felt that way many times. More and more frequently, I find my kids taking care of me. Massaging sore muscles, making sure I eat, carrying in the groceries, opening jars, catching me before I trip, repeating what they have already told me. They find the memory loss and lack of concentration very annoying. My younger daughter commented on how I never used to watch movies more than once, but now that I can’t remember them very well, I’m okay with watching them again. “It’s like you’re seeing them for the first time, Mom,” she laughed.

It’s times like those, when we can laugh about how our life has changed, that seem so precious. It’s times when my daughter is rubbing my purple swollen feet that I realize how much she loves me. I mean, really, teenagers have much more entertaining things to do than take care of their sick mom. When my older daughter stepped up and taught her sister how to drive on the freeway—a job I had failed to do—I was so proud of her and so grateful she was there to pick up the slack without having to be asked. I have watched my girls take responsibility when they should not have to, but they do anyway without complaint, with love, kindness, and compassion. They are gentle and tender in their manner, and their love shows through so completely. I realize what strong women they have become, and I am grateful for that—not the means, but the consequence.

Although I feel like a failure having my kids take care of me, I see how close we all are. I see how compassionate they are to others who are ill. And I see how much they love me in spite of my deficiencies. These are some powerful blessings.

~Nancy Engler

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