Parenting Versus Reverse Parenting Or A Tale of Pureed Foods

When it comes to parenthood, there are moments that stick out. Moments where you think, “OK, I need to mentally bookmark this blip in time because it’s special.” I have those moments from time to time with my daughter. I also have other moments … moments where I think, “Huh, I’ve done this before.” Like the ti
me I fed my daughter solid food for the first (and second and third and fourth) time. It reminded me of the many times I sat and spoon-fed my own mother. On the one hand, the idea makes me sad; on the other hand, from a practical standpoint, I know that I need to carve out some time — regardless if I’m feeding my mom or my child.

That moment was one of a handful of other “moments” that I’ve experienced over the past six months. Yes, it’s are different. There’s certainly much more joy attached to the act of feeding my baby. And I must say, dealing with poop is a real pleasure when the pooper is a tiny bundle and not a full-grown woman who, at one time, was very stubborn and rather difficult due to her behaviors … a very common thing among folks with frontotemporal dementia (FTD)

Still, it’s a little surreal.

My mom’s dementia is a little bit like that movie, The Curious Case of Benjamin Button. Over the years, she’s regressed, considerably, from adult, to teen, to child, to (very difficult) toddler to infant. Today, she can’t walk; she can’t talk, and, right now, her food looks like the same pureed mush my daughter eats. Only fancier. In some ways, the two are like ships passing in the night…………. developmentally………… they’re both in diapers, they both eat the same type of food, they’re both non-verbal and both require full-time care.

But then, that’s what this disease does, it robs you and your family of possibility. And sometimes it robs you of hope.

A baby, on the other hand, gives you hope; in a child there’s possibility. There’s a future.

For me, there will always be moments, especially, when there are challenges….. like when my baby is a toddler and decides to create a scene. In public. I’ve been there with my mom…… same-same, but different.

I’m not sure if any of this makes me sad or if I’m sort of numb to it all. I think after a while, one becomes very good at detachment. It’s a survival thing. Detachment from emotions that might otherwise leave you in a depressed state for the rest of your life is probably a very healthy skill to develop when caring for someone with frontotemporal dementia or Alzheimer’s disease…

They’re there, but not really.

They’re alive, but they just stare.

They take and take and take, and, yet, give absolutely nothing back.

At least, with my daughter, while she takes, she also gives. That’s a wonderful thing. Because when life steals from you, to have a little person come into your world and fill your heart, well, that’s kind of a miracle.

It’s All About Me And What Could Have Been If It Weren’t For You

I try hard not to dwell on what could have been. It’s an easy enough trap to fall into for someone like me who already suffers from “future living disorder”… I worry about what may happen, what could happen and what I hope happens, instead of focusing on the here and now. There is no cure for this except forcing myself to stay grounded—in one place. Phoenix. With my family. In a 748 square foot studio. With very high ceilings so I don’t feel “trapped.” That’s my other ailment, “trapiditis” or the fear of being stuck. I usually move to remedy that, except this time I can’t (or won’t).

Since I can’t jump ahead into my non-existent future, I’ve been looking back—at what could have been. So what’s with all the time travel? I guess the fact that everyone is having babies. Baby girls (OK, there’s one boy coming sometime next year). Everyone. Seriously. It seems each week, I’m hearing that someone is having a girl and they’re all due around February or March… around my birthday (with the exception of one baby girl due early next year—congrats Nedra!)

I always wanted kids. I dreamed of a large family, probably because I came from a family of three—2 parents and me. I remember thinking at one point that I wanted to be a mom by 26. I’m 33. Totally missed that boat. When I was 25, I thought I had met the one. We talked about having kids. A boy and a girl. Perfect. We even named them, but then that’s what you do when you’re smitten with one another, contemplating the perfect life together. Perfect.

Two years later, things had changed and he no longer wanted children. I convinced myself that I didn’t either. And as my mother’s disease became all too evident, it just seemed like having kids would be too much… even if we were going in that direction, but we weren’t so it served as proof that I had made the right decision. No kids. Besides, how could I care for a baby and help my dad with my mom? What if my mom hugged my baby too hard and killed it? What if my mom lost my baby? What if my mom dropped or even microwaved my baby, like she mircrowaves everything else!?

I can’t even cope with my mom’s disease, how could I possibly deal with a child?

That’s what I tell myself. To this very day. Of course, I’m no longer with the one and so (technically) the baby door is once again open, well cracked open.

Or not. ENTER the present moment (stage left)

I’m 33. Tick tock.

I’m not married.

I can’t afford a baby.

I have no help in the form of family, except my dad who is busy de-raising my mom.

Slightly ajar just got slammed.

So I don’t think about birthing babies and I try to beat it into my subconscious that a child would not be a good idea. I think it’s working. I once even went to a psychic and asked her about children—she said she doesn’t see kids in my future. More evidence. It’s literally not in the cards.

Fast Forward. Present moment. On the laptop. Typing. And I can honestly say, I don’t know if I want a baby anymore. I’m TBD.

Instead, what I think about is what could have been. Maybe I should have ended my relationship when he said he didn’t want kids. Maybe I should have given him an ultimatum—I want kids. It’s me and our two non-existent children or nothing.

Maybe if I had, I would be a parent now. Maybe I would be having my second or third baby—creating a that large family of my dreams in a beautiful house with a large back yard and a partner that teaches our kids how to play some kind of sport or something.

Maybe I would not be sitting here alone on my Macy’s sofa thinking about what could have been and feeling a tremendous sense of anger and frustration at him, at my mother, at myself, at the hand I’ve been dealt.

>>Flickr pic by gabi_menashe