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Sunday Mornings With Rania: Moms in the Middle

Growing up, I remember my mom’s hands always being covered with Band-Aids. I would ask why and she would reply Think of what my hands do in a day . . . I carry things, move things, cook things, open things, pack things, cut things, go through your papers and take care of anything else you need. My hands get paper cuts, knife cuts, burns or simply just dry. Every one of these Band-Aids has meaning. In a typical youthful spirit, her words would roll over me.

Beyond the Band-Aids, I never thought to ask – did her hands hurt? What about her arms, back, neck or feet? To me, my loud Mediterranean mother was the most powerful person I knew. She was short for sure but mighty in all her ways. I never thought of her as being sore or even tired. She was just always Mom; ready to help with whatever was needed.

Over the last week, I have been thinking quite a bit about those conversations which took place over 30 years ago. I’m now a mother with a few Band-Aids on my own hands. With three little kids and a great deal of activity, I think of my mom every time I put one on. It is amazing how such a small and meaningless activity {putting on a Band-Aid} can make you think of how quickly time passes.

But as I write this, I’m thinking about more than the passing of time. I’m thinking about what it all means, right now, in this moment.

It’s currently about 12:45 a.m. and I’m staring at my mother, now in her early 70s, as she sleeps just a stone’s throw away from me. She has been visiting from Boston for some time. Set to leave last week, she sadly fell down the stairs at my house and suffered three different fractures in three different parts of her body. Her trip back to Boston placed on hold, she is now here recovering and I’m caring for her when I’m not at the office. It’s amazing to think about. Her hands no longer covered in Band-Aids but worn out just the same, I grab hold of them in an effort to lift her or set her down. She sleeps peacefully but is never really well rested. It is becoming clearer and clearer that it’s now my time to care for her. And I’m thankful for it.

So here I am like many of you, in a part of life I’m calling mom in the middle. I have my own young family to think of – a busy house with many growing and changing needs. But I’m fortunate enough to have my parents too and with that, the ever-changing requirements that come with watching them age. Moms in the middle think of navigating children through school, houses through changing schedules, careers with shifting paths while juggling the decisions that come with parents walking through later stages in life.

It is complex. It is emotional. It is tiring. But it is all so wonderfully a part of life.

Through it all, I hope you join me in remembering to:

Be thankful. I am immensely thankful that my kids have these times with their grandparents and that my parents have this time with me and my children. But to successfully manage this:

Forgive yourself. Remember, you cannot do it all. And that’s okay. Allow yourself to conquer what you can and not lose heart over what you can’t. There’s no way to answer every question, take every call, fill every need and be everyone’s “one stop shop.” Let this sink in and let it flow out. It’s okay.

Stop and take care of you. Between the phone calls, forms to fill out, plans to make, work to be done, housework and errands that never ends – you’ve got to stop and take a moment for YOU. Whether it’s sleeping at an odd moment or running to get a coffee on your own for 30 minutes, you know what will recharge you. Take time to do whatever it is so you can keep going.

Seek help when you need it. Whether you are thinking through school activities for your kids or physical therapy for your parents, you will not have all the answers all the time. There are many who can help and are there to help. Accept that help and keep going.

Think with your mind and your heart. I’m tired of people thinking you need to separate the two. Decisions can be conquered with thoughtfulness and compassion. You can pull from both wells and it’s the right thing to do so.

Don’t be afraid. There isn’t any one decision that will cause everything to come crashing down. If you give your child a gadget slightly before they are ready, it’s okay. If you need a little extra time to decide on a treatment for a parent, it’s okay. Let’s move forward in confidence and not in fear.

Remember you have an audience. I can’t tell you how many times I have shared lessons with my kids over the past few days alone. They are watching me care for my parents. And through it all, we have discussed family, the need to care for one another and the lengths we will go to support each other. I have tried to highlight the fabric of our family and hopefully planted a legacy of compassion.

Life has a beautiful way of coming full circle. And while I am certain that each of our stories vary, we can come together over common themes. Moms in the middle see this over and over again. What a powerful group we are; these tired hands are a proud member.

Posted by Rania Mankarious on 6 Aug 2017

About the author

Executive Director of Crime Stoppers of Houston