It’s Mother’s Day this weekend. A lovely celebration to show our love for our often under-appreciated mums and everything they’ve done for us over the past year. It’s a lovely concept and needed in a society where the work mums do is often under-valued.
It’s a weekend when most of my friends are going home and doing something nice with their mums. Some are having a spa day, some are having afternoon tea or a meal out. But that’s not on the cards for me.
My mum was diagnosed with early onset-Alzheimer’s nearly seven years ago. Now, at 66, the Alzheimer’s is pretty advanced and she lives at home with my dad who cares for her 24/7. She is always confused, and often angry or distressed. She needs one-to-one attention at any given time. My two sisters and I go home as regularly as we can to help my dad out and give him much-needed time off.
We used to always make sure we were home for Mother’s Day, and our go-to presents were always caramel chocolate and books. She loved reading, Coronation Street and long soaks in the bath. I know everyone always says this, but our mum really was wonderful. She was great in a crisis, she had strong morals which she instilled in us and brought us up to be three strong independent women.
This Mother’s Day, I’ll be doing the 190-mile trip back home for Mother’s Day and Mum won’t recognise me. She won’t be able to have a conversation. She’ll get angry and confused as to who I am and why I’m there.
But still I’ll go to the shop and pick out a card, trying to get one as bland as possible and avoid one that says “best mum ever” or “thanks for always being there” because I physically can’t bring myself to say these things. I won’t know what to write in it as usual. It’s emotionally very hard to remember the good things about the old mum when you have to care for the current mum. I think they call it compartmentalising – it protects your brain from grieving constantly.
I’ve forgotten what it’s like to have a mum who gives advice, tells you how proud she is of you, or even just have a normal conversation with. I can’t often allow myself to even imagine it. So what do I feel when Mother’s Day comes around every year? Sadness, trepidation and yes, a little bit of jealousy for those who get to spend the day with a mum who can show their love.
Mum has not for a long time, and will never again be able to enjoy Coronation Street, read a good book or have a nice long soak in the bath. But worse than that, this weekend I will not be able to show my appreciation for everything she did for me in a way that she’ll understand. But I’ll be there supporting my amazing dad and sisters through these hard times as Mum would have wanted. I suppose that is what Mother’s Day means to me.