I shared with you a month or two ago the anguish of having my niece going through a life-threatening situation when a blood vessel broke in her brain.
I’m happy to report that Erica is home from the hospital, and is doing well.
I spoke with my sister yesterday, though, and found that she was going through some sort of withdrawal. I asked her to write about the experience so I could share it with you.
How to Treat Adult Children
Diana Alishouse--April 2012
An adult daughter recently spent 32 days in a brain trauma unit in a hospital recovering from an aneurism. I spent hours and days with her—holding her hand, smoothing her hair, talking to her even (especially) when she was unconscious, grateful for her whispered word “Mommie.” I listened to the conferences among the neurologists, surgeons, pulmonologists, acute care nurses, respiratory therapists, pharmacists, physical therapists, and case managers, learning and asking questions which they tried to answer in lay terms. Love and fear were constant. Adrenaline poured through my body.
After she was released I took her to her home and stayed there with her for a week while she recovered strength enough to walk and made arrangements for home-health care nurse visits and appointments with her regular doctor. I did the laundry, grocery shopping, and cooking. I fed the cats and cleaned their littler boxes and her house. I goaded her to do her exercises. Her tracheostomy wound was healing nicely and she got stronger and better each day. Friends came to visit and volunteered to take her to further doctor appointments until she could drive. I began to relax.
I was no longer needed, so I went home—hoping she wouldn’t fall, hoping she would remember to take her medicines, hoping her friends wouldn’t let her down. My intensive mothering job was done.
Then the adrenaline stopped and so did I. I slept. Now three weeks later I am still sleeping a lot and crying often as I slowly release the fear from my brain and my body.
There are millions of stories like this. Millions of mothers who instantly snap back to the mothering mode we enjoyed when our children were young. It takes its toll on us, but we are willing to do it. At some level, conscious or not, we enjoy babying our child again. But we must be willing to let go of it when the time is right.
I have realized that my sleeping and weeping is only partly because of the adrenaline let down. The other part is in letting go of the mothering of my “baby,” that adult child of mine. And this realization reminds me of the mothering I received as the adult daughter of my mother and my mother-in-law—two very different people with very different styles.
My mother, Tommie, never understood that her role had changed when I became an adult. To her I was the ever wayward child whose independence was a source of sorrow to her. Her attempts at control of my choices and beliefs only pushed me away. She never understood that. She felt rejected despite my many attempts to reassure her that I loved her still, although I disagreed with her. I could never love her enough.
My mother-in-law, Lennie, saw all of us, sons, daughters and in-laws, as adults. Quietly, she disagreed with many of our ideas, beliefs, and actions. She never pressed an issue or argued—only shook her head and kept on loving us. She was greatly loved.
If you choose to share Diana’s words with a friend who could benefit from them, please be sure to give Diana full credit.
BEEattitude for Day #546:
Blessed are those who care for others, the way we bees take care of our young, for they shall see them flourish, and thrive, and fly.
The teeny details:
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