Posted by: sistermom1 | August 17, 2009

Learning along the journey

 My mother has been described as “larger-than-life” for as long as I can remember.  She is a wonderfully accomplished woman who has been on the frontline of many social and societal changes of the past century.  She has done many things in her life – has always been fabulous, and has been a tenacious warrior on my behalf over my entire 50+ years.

 We celebrated her 80th birthday this weekend at two big parties.

We have been planning a celebration to commemorate her eightieth year on this planet.  That process has been a true challenge – working with my brothers (grown men) is very different than working with my grown female friends.  Working with my mother (a very strong and independent 80-year old woman) has also been a tremendous learning experience.

Some of the things that I have learned through this process include:

It is difficult to change the role that you play in your family – As the youngest daughter, I was usually treated like a princess for most of my life.  My brothers have playfully/honestly mentioned this the past, and I have had to reflect on this over the past few months.  Even at my age (50+) that princess role has been difficult to release /outgrow, but my efforts continue, especially since my life has changed so dramatically by my 2005 diagnosis of MS.

Managing expectations is a big part of managing MS – Managing my own expectations of myself, as well as meeting (or not meeting) other people’s expectations of me has been a real learning opportunity for me.  Turning down my mother’s requests, and not being able to do whatever she would like me to do whenever she would like me to do it has also been hard, but protecting my own energy and time has become a real priority for me.

People usually become even more like themselves as we grow older – Your sister the drama queen will always behave that way until she decides to change; it will always be difficult to get your cousin to commit to a specific schedule for his arrival/delivery of a project that he designed specifically for your mother’s birthday; and the aunt that has always been a bit of a pill will continue to be that way.  They all will be that way until they each decide to change – and not a minute before that. 

Note:  The preceding were all examples and not specific representations of ANY of my actual relatives…

Mom enjoyed the festivities thoroughly, and the entire group of 120+ people from all stages of Mom’s life were pleased, inspired and well-fed.  Everything went smoothly because of all the efforts and prayers of the planning committee, and in spite of my MS-related energy challenges, I was able to co-host a visiting relative and a BBQ for 30 people at our home on Saturday (thank you to my husband and cousins!), and co-chair the party the next day (thank yous to my brothers, my sister-in-law, and three of my major girlfriends) without breaking too much of a sweat….

What a glorious weekend! 

Happy Birthday Mom!  We will all be there for your 90th!!!!!

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