I’m just going to be honest – I don’t want to write this post. So much that I’ve been procrastinating on my procrastination. But in an effort to encourage vulnerability, I feel it’s important to share a little bit of my story with you all.
I’m blessed to have an amazing example of what it means to be a mother; my mom has always shown me the meaning of unconditional love and support. Her unwavering faith and encouragement has shaped me into the mother I am today. But as a grandmother to my son, my mom has never even changed his diaper. She won’t lift him into his crib at nap time, and she’s never prepared a bottle for him.
These little things would come naturally to her, but my mom has Multiple Sclerosis, which she’s been battling since I was a toddler. As I’ve grown, our family has adapted to new normals every year as her physical abilities become less and less. Our son’s arrival has disrupted that normal. His presence has become a sort of crucible; highlighting amazing moments, yet equally glaring a spotlight on the immense difficulty and grief that this disease is causing.
This isn’t a how-to post, and I don’t have any bullet points on how I’ve made things better, but I feel that it’s important to share a glimpse into my heart throughout this journey. Why? Because I want to live a life that is open, honest and vulnerable, not a life that numbs things that are hard.
I recently attended a women’s conference that focused on suffering and grief. I was compelled by the discussion of grief as a series of events, rather than one singular event. This has been especially true as my son reaches new milestones with activities in which my mom can’t always participate. I grieve what might have been, or what I wish were true. But centering my thoughts on a wish or a false hope is not my story. To focus so minutely means that I miss the overall picture and the bigger story that is being woven.
The next part is hard to talk about and I realize it can sound trivial or controversial. I believe that my mom’s MS has a purpose. That is not to say that it isn’t a terrible thing, or that I’m somehow happy that this disease is destroying my mother’s physical body. I do believe that pain through grief leads our hearts to a greater picture of what life is really about. The whole purpose may not be revealed until I’m long gone from this earth, but I catch glimpses here and there. I see purpose in the way her positivity impacts everyone around her despite her disease, or in the way our family’s patience is tested and strengthened, and in the way we don’t let trivial dramas interfere with our time together. There are countless blessings that simply wouldn’t exist without my mom’s MS.
This is a story without an end; there’s no tidy conclusion. It’s just this messy life, rolling along with delightful little moments and fantastic big ones. Some days are painfully hard. In those moments of sorrow, I take comfort in the fact that even though my mom can’t carry my sweet baby, she lifts him up with unconditional support and love, and a healthy dose of obsession, just like any old grandma would.