Posted by: sistermom1 | April 9, 2010

Relationship re-negotiations

Along with this new life that MS has brought me, I have received another quite unexpected “gift”. All of my relationships need to be re-negotiated. From my role as a wife and mother, to the nature of my ever-evolving friendships and significantly, my relationship with my mother.

I have a mother who is absolutely incredible – bright, funny, full of life – a great friend and a true treasure. She looks about 20 years younger than her actual age, prefers to travel and hang out with younger people (mostly me and my friends!), and makes a mean platter of southern fried chicken, among other things. She is also very used to being in charge – in control – of most things.

I love her very much.  In the past, as her youngest daughter, I was very often the one to help make sure that everything turned out the way she wanted.  And if it didn’t, to smooth things out so they would all end up the way she felt that they should.  My role has often been what many professionals describe as “the mediator” in my family of origin, and I think I did it pretty well.  That is, until MS interceded.  My ability to do what Mom wants exactly the way that she wants has been severely compromised.  Now, when she needs me to do something in a particular way (mostly her way – let’s be honest!) it is very difficult for me to actually physically do it (you may recall that I cannot walk or drive).  Things that have always seemed very important to her (e.g., my appearance, writing very timely thank-you notes, making strong and quick decisions about important things, being on-time to events…)  are no longer that important to me and as a result I end up disappointing her much of the time. 

It is clear that MS frustrates my mother – as it does me and most people who have it.  It is one of the few things in her world that she cannot influence or control, and this thing has a hold on her youngest daughter.  Because she has such a strong personal style, the instances where I do not meet her expectations do not go unnoticed by me, or even by my children.  And those instances are becoming more frequent — I mostly attribute that to my increasing cognitive challenges, a very full calendar (you may remember my two school-aged kids and husband), and the energy required for me to simply maintain a semblance of an ordered life and get through a normal/typical day.

What to do when you are a dramatically different person than you are used to being?  How do you successfully manage other people’s expectations of you when you can barely remember to charge your cell phone – or even pay the bill on time, much less cook a meal or do the family laundry?  Renegotiating my relationships is a tricky new place for me to be, and I am in that space with just about everyone who is important to me.

This leg of the detour is tough – no joke.  I am not used to having to disappoint anyone, especially not my mother.  But through this “gift” I am learning to adopt some different behaviors – to negotiate the space that I need to accomplish things before-hand, to not spend so much time worrying about what others may think/expect – just always do my best, to be open to the notion that when someone disappoints me that it is not at all intentional, and to be patient with myself when my “best” is very different than it used to be. 

Here’s to this leg of the journey – and here’s to lots of good wine and great food during all of your negotiations! 

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Responses

  1. Love your attitude!

    I am re-negotiating, too. It seems to be a popular theme among those with MS.


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