with Talyaa Liera
I'm Talyaa, the poster child for the concept that there's no one right way to be a parent. I went from stay-at-home attachment-parenting mom of four to being the non-custodial parent, working as a professional writer and channel-psychic. Let's talk about throwing away the parenting manual and exploding the myths and mystique of motherhood!
Check out my personal blog at Juxtapositioning.
[WARNING: Bummer alert. Sorry.] I think I have a knack for having the hard conversations with my kids. Moving, divorce, custody battles, cancer. Life stuff. Now my mother seems to have dementia — it looks like Alzheimer’s — and I’ve been spending the past couple of months helping my kids understand where she’s coming from and where it looks like she’s going.
How do you deal with the possibility that your grandmother may never really remember who you are? I am trying to look at this from my children’s perspective. My older kids remember their grandmother in the distance and not very clearly — she visited our home in Pennsylvania several times before the aforementioned moving and divorce changed everything radically, but the 3000 miles between us meant that they were never as close as many kids are with their grandparents. Now my mother is every day slowly slipping farther away. She remembers me, and she remembers that she has grandchildren, but she doesn’t remember much about them anymore. I am not sure how to make this easier for them.
The Sandwich Generation — legions of parents who are dealing with taking care of their aging parents as well as their kids — is fast growing larger. I know I’m not alone, yet this is something that I never thought I’d have to deal with when I became a parent.
My strategy now is to be as factual as I can with my kids and tell them everything I know about what their grandmother perceives and who she is. I also plan to help preserve my mother’s memories and the bits of her life that are still very vivid (she remembers her past much more easily than her present these days) as a legacy to pass down to my kids. My plan is to ask her questions and get her talking about her life as a girl, and then record and transcribe the stories she tells for her grandchildren. I see her slipping away so fast and I feel it’s important for my children to know something of where they came from, and maybe know a little of the person who is their grandmother.
As for me, so far I am weathering the changes in my mother. I was sad that she was not the mom I wished she was. Now I know that she never will be that mom, so I’ve decided to meet her where she is instead. She’s childlike and responds to things in the moment, showing genuine surprise for the most ordinary of things. It’s sort of awesome, actually, and I am enjoying her more now than I have in years. I know that she’ll eventually be surprised every time she sees me, and that at first her surprise will cause her concern, but I hope she reaches a happy unconcerned place before she forgets the simpler things entirely and slips away altogether. If I can help make that transition easier for her, I’ll feel that we completed a circle that began on my birthday so long ago.
Any Sandwich parents out there? How are you handling being in the middle? Even if you’re not there now, do you think it could be in your future? How will your children take it?
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