Thursday, January 12, 2017

REAL MOMS: Malea talks about her mom, Susan

Mom2MomEd Blog: Real Moms--Malea talks about her mom, Susan
Recently, McKenzie interviewed her mom, Cindy, and it was so sweet! I know McKenzie's mom and loved their interview! Cindy is one of my favorite people and I'm glad to have she and McKenzie in my life. They feel like family.

So, it's now my turn to interview my mom--and I tried. Twice.

I love my mom, and she has had such an important role in shaping who I am, yet our interview didn't go at all as I had planned.

To be honest, I wasn't expecting to go as in depth as McKenzie and her mom, but I had hoped to have a warm and fuzzy heart-to-heart with my mom. Over the past few years, however, my mom's memory and her ability to communicate clearly has been, well, failing.

The saddest part is that I know that most of the time she has a clear idea of what she wants to say or do, but she isn't able to get out the right words. Sometimes she can't even get out words that are close.

For example, instead of saying, "Let's go to the grocery store" she might say, "Let's go to the place" or "I want to go to that building, the one with food."

Most of the time, I'm able to figure out, through listening carefully and asking questions, what she means, but sometimes I can't. I can't read her mind, and whatever she is trying to say might be too complex to guess at with a few questions and vague answers.

My mom and I live about 600 miles apart, and the past few months have been so difficult! Her brother, the uncle that my son and I live with, was diagnosed with a brain tumor on the very same day that my mom arrived for a visit on August 31st.


The stress of my uncle's health crisis threw my mom's memory problems into overdrive, so it is no surprise that her visit was not great.

My mom came back for another visit a few weeks ago and things were so much better! My uncle is doing well and my mom, while still worried and stressed, was much more relaxed and better able to communicate and remember things.

However, my mom's memory will never be what it once was. Her doctor hasn't diagnosed her with dementia, but does acknowledge that something is going on...

Despite this, I decided to take my mom out to a coffee shop so I could interview her. We found a Starbucks with a cozy couch and warm environment, got hot chocolate for her and a soy latte for me and settled in.

I started out asking my mom interview style questions, similar to the way McKenzie interviewed her own mom, but it became clear pretty quickly that this approach just wouldn't work. Instead, we ended up talking a little bit about my grandmother and her influence on both of us.

My mom told me that she grew up wanting to be just like her own mom--and in many ways that's exactly what happened! Both were teachers and both loved working with children in both formal and informal ways. They both valued reading and literacy, and both believed in making children feel safe and loved.

My mom told me that she felt like she was better off than her own mother in many ways, but particularly because by the time my mom had children, it was much more acceptable for a woman to both have a career and to be a parent. She thought her mom suffered sometimes from social expectations that women should stay home with the kids while men went off to work--my grandparents were both teachers and, in fact, met while teaching!

Even though my mom felt like she had it easier than her own mother when it came to having both a career and a family, she still felt a lot of pressure as a mom. She said it was hard for her to go to work every day, leaving her children with a sitter (we had the BEST daycare experience though!). She missed us while she was at work, but she also loved her job was always a trade off.

At this point, our conversation became quite difficult, and I'm not sure if it was because my mom was sad thinking about her own mother--my grandmother passed away when I was 12 years old--or if she was thinking about her brother's health or if it was just her memory problems cropping up and interfering. I think my mom, a quintessential people pleaser, also was feeling pressured to have the "perfect" or "right" answers, and I know she didn't want to disappoint me.

I love my mom and, despite the difficulties during the end of our interview and her ongoing memory problems, I am so grateful for the time we have been able to spend together over recent months and I look forward to many more visits.

My mom and her mom have been two of the most influential women in my life, and I cherish every second I have had with both of them.

Would you like to be featured in our Real Moms interview series? Or, is there someone you would like us to interview? If so, please leave a comment (they are moderated) with your contact details or email us HERE. We've love to learn more about you or about the women in your life!
Did you enjoy this post? Check out these additional articles on REAL MOMS:

And, if you'd like to interview your own family members and start a family history that can be passed on to future generations, be sure to check out the book Preserve Your Family History: A Step-by-Step Guide for Interviewing Family Members and Writing Oral Histories by LeAnn R. Ralph. You can buy it HERE on Amazon, or click through the image below:
Preserve Your Family History: A Step-by-Step Guide for Interviewing Family Members and Writing Oral Histories by LeAnn R. Ralph

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