We sat in a park watching our toddlers sliding down the small red plastic slide and scooting through the little yellow tunnel. As mothers do, we quietly chatted about the foods that our sons would not eat, how long they napped and what was currently on sale at Target. In the midst of the conversation my dear friend turned to me and said, "For me, the hardest thing about motherhood is the sameness of every day." She continued, "He wakes up at 6:30. He eats a waffle cut into little squares. I pop him into the tub and wash the maple syrup out of his hair. He watches Sesame Street. We play on the floor. He naps. He wakes. He eats a peanut butter sandwich cut into squares. I pop him into the tub and wash the peanut butter from his hair. We play on the floor. He naps..."
The "sameness of every day" in the life of a toddler is the reality of young mothers. It also describes the life my own mother leads today. She has become my toddler. The sameness is almost identical.
Meems sleeps. She eats. She is bathed. She sleeps while Hallmark Christmas movies whisper from her TV. She eats. She sleeps while Hallmark Christmas movies whisper in her room. She eats. She sleeps...
Wrapped in her favorite pink throw blanket, she floats in a timeless cocoon. Sweet caregivers turn her in bed, keep her clean and dry, and touch her bottom lip with spoonfuls of food signaling for her to open her mouth. It has become difficult to understand the words that she utters. Words like "bacon" and "car" and "Jimmy" are mingled in with unintelligible mumblings. "Mom, are you thinking about breakfast?" "Mom, are you going on a drive?" "Are you thinking about your brother, Jimmy?"
Yesterday when I entered her assisted living home during the early afternoon, I was surprised to find her in the living room sitting in her wheelchair with her hands neatly folded in her lap. Her bright blue eyes were open wide staring at nothing. "Mom! Look at you! You're awake and sitting with your friends!" Her eyes slowly tick-tick-ticked towards the sound of my voice. "I'm your daughter, Carolyn! You're my mom! We're best friends!" A hint of a smile wrinkled half of her face.
I had come armed with my laptop hoping to get some writing done during her afternoon nap. Balancing it under my arm, I wheeled her into her room and positioned her next to the loveseat so that our knees would almost touch. She slowly gazed about the room impassively.
I wedged myself between her wheelchair and the hospital bed and lowered myself down into the soft, familiar comfort of her worn yellow floral loveseat. I opened my laptop and carefully balanced it on my lap. I glanced up at Meems. Her eyes were locked onto my computer and her good hand was ever so slowly reaching towards it. "This is my portable computer. I use it to write stories and look up words that I can no longer spell." Her fingertips softly touched the back of the screen.
"Oh, here's something cool! I can show you pictures of our trip to Hawaii," I said opening the photo app. I held the screen up so that she could "see" it. "This is a beautiful sunset at the beach in Lahaina. Do you remember when you and Kelly and I were there?" Her eyes were pointed in the right direction, so I interpreted that as attentiveness. "Here's a lovely drink in a pineapple that Alan and I shared. Do you remember drinking a pineapple drink when we were there?" No response. I showed her a few more pictures. Sunsets. Palm trees. Honolua Bay. Her eyes began to wander.
I sat back and tried to open Wix so that I could blog. There were password issues. The recovery code was sent to my old email. Password issues. I fell down the rabbit hole of old passwords and security questions. Which childhood friend did I designate as my bestie? As my frustration mounted, I heard Meems speaking softly. I turned to her. She lifted her arm and pointed towards the blue chair that once graced her living room in Waco.
"I want to sit in that chair." There it was. A rare slowly, but clearly spoken sentence. She wanted to sit in her living room chair. My heart lept.
Slowly and carefully, I lifted her eighty-pound bony frame from her wheelchair, pivoted, and gently moved her to a place of familiarity. She gingerly lifted her right knee and crossed it over her left, bone-on-bone, before draping her good arm gracefully on the arm rest. For that moment she was home. I was home. We were home. It was the most delicious moment I've shared with her in a long, long time. Tomorrow, the sameness of every day is sure to resume. But, today for one shining moment it was different. And, she rocked that living room chair like a boss.