One day in the summer of 2014, about four years after my mom was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s, she and I were hanging out in the pool at her house.
It had been a trying summer, as my husband was away at a school for the military. His graduation was coming up in a few weeks and I was talking to my mom about how I wanted to buy a new dress to wear for it.
My mom was trying her best to have a conversation with me, but she was obviously having a hard time following along. She kept unknowingly changing the subject and talking about things that were completely irrelevant.
Suddenly, I snapped at her.
“That’s not even what I’m talking about! I’m talking about buying a new dress to wear to Steve’s graduation!”
I don’t know if she realized I snapped at her, but I immediately felt bad about it. I still feel bad about it to this day.
I should have been more patient, more empathetic, more understanding, but I was none of those things.
Looking back now, I know my reaction was not out of anger or malice or not caring.
It was out of hurt.
I was hurt and frustrated that I could no longer have a normal conversation with my mom.
I just wanted to talk to her about buying a new dress like any other daughter could talk to her mom about buying a new dress.
As I said, it had been a trying summer. My husband was away and I was taking care of literally everything without him. I couldn’t even call or text him. I had also ended two longtime friendships that spring, so I felt as though I had no one to talk to.
I desperately wanted to have a conversation with my mom, but I was beginning to realize that was no longer possible. And I was feeling frustrated.
I wish I would have had the perspective to think about how she probably desperately wanted to have a conversation with me, too. She was probably just as frustrated as I was.
But I didn’t, so I snapped and I instantly regretted it.
I messed up.
We all mess up.
We are hurting and it’s frustrating and it sucks.
It all just really freaking sucks.
But it’s not about not messing up. It’s about learning from it and moving on.
Don’t beat yourself up when you get frustrated and snap at your loved one.
Learn from it.
Grow from it.
Change because of it.
And move on.
There are no mistakes on this journey, only lessons.