“Nicole is lucky to have you for a mother. You show her great love.”
These are words I frequently hear from those who know the lengths to which I go to find resources for her. I see this as my responsibility. I know it is a loving action, but I have the skills to do it and the only thing hard about it is finding the time to follow the leads and dealing with the disappointment of blind alleys and insufficient assistance and services.
Showing her love is something different in my book. Love is changed behavior and is, to my way of seeing, a powerful demonstration of love. It takes much more conscious effort. And it forces me to grow.
Nicole and I have both been showing our love by changing our behavior since she moved in with me a little over a year ago. After she reached adulthood, we tried living together before, and it didn’t work well. This time, we are both growing.
To ease the transition, I suggested we be intentional about giving each other a hug before going to bed at night. Expressing our love by hugging and expressing terms of endearment greatly reduced the tension in the air. It took about five months for us to begin to relax into a routine with each other that seems to be working for both of us.
Behavior I have changed:
- I’m not as fussy about my home being neat and tidy.
- I’ve stopped (except for a recent slip — I’m not perfect) screaming, yelling, and stomping when I’m frustrated or scared.
- I take into consideration her preferences.
- I watch TV programs she enjoys even though they are not my first choice and I wouldn’t normally give them the time of day.
- I say “thank you” a lot more frequently.
- I accept much more graciously what I cannot change about the way her disease affects her behavior.
- When our needs clash, I engage her in problem solving to find a solution that works for both of us.
Behavior I’ve noticed that Nicole has changed:
- She’s less messy around the house.
- She’s forthright in her dislike of my frustrated/scared behavior.
- She watches some TV programs I enjoy even though she finds them boring.
- She initiates and takes responsibility for household chores without being reminded. (I really like it that she has taken responsibility to clean up the kitchen after I cook.)
- She kids with me about my quirks.
- She respects my need for silence and uses her headphones when I’m writing, meditating, or reflecting.
I know Nicole would rather live independently and I would prefer that, too. But that is not likely to be possible anytime soon. So, in the interim, we show our love through changed behavior. In my book, that’s the greatest love of all. And this is not what I set out to write today. Interesting.