Both of my parents are sick. Both of them have been disabled since I was 12. They divorced when I was very young and by good luck on my end, I acquired two rockstar step-parents.
I grew up living with my mom and step-dad and did the every other weekend/holidays/6 weeks of the summer schedule. When my dad began to develop obvious signs of Huntington's disease, I recognized them from seeing my grandfather go through similar changes. When my mom was going doctor to doctor, looking for a diagnosis, I learned a lot about doing laundry, making dinner, and accepting the fact that her after work Bud Light was becoming more of a lunch time head start most days. When she was diagnosed with Multiple Sclerosis, she was happy for an actual diagnosis after many other incorrect guesses. Life hasn't been the same in that house since then.
I joke and say I've been a grown up since I was 5 years old, but I truly feel like I have been. I've been a caregiver my whole life and it lead me to my career in nursing as a glorified paid caregiver. I made it through high school working nearly full time, taking AP classes, participating in extra curricular activities, and being home ALWAYS before curfew. My mom and I grew distant while I spent so much time away from home and her increasingly home-bound. I've not been able to keep myself close with her despite her want to keep our relationship that way, but in more details than I care to share even here, it's safe to say we will never be that close mother-daughter duo.
I was a total daddy's girl. I've always had sympathy for him and having Huntington's. As a child, knowing then I had a 50/50 chance of inheriting the disease myself, it was definitely on the forefront of my mind all the time. I knew he couldn't control what was happening to him and when it came time to move him to a nursing home, it was one of the worst and most difficult days of my life. He has lived in a nursing facility for 6 years and hasn't been at home, even to visit, for the last few years due to his decline. It breaks my heart.
Luckily, as mentioned, I have phenominal step-parents. My step dad, Paul, had always been there for me, even when I was a terrible, awful teenage girl with hormones and *the worst* life. He caught for me in the back yard while I practiced pitching, taught me how to change my own oil and car tires, and will walk me down the aisle at my wedding. He's a trooper to have taken me on. My step-mom, Jody, is a saint. She married my dad with the knowledge he could end up taking care of my dad, and she has done so for the last 20 years. She's done whatever it's taken to make sure he is taken care of, even if it means she has to struggle. She was with me when I picked out my wedding dress and she's the first one I call when I have a problem. Boy, did I win the step-parent lottery or what?!
As we know, today is Mother's Day. It's hard for me to like this day because I didn't have the perfect mom and we don't have a great relationship - but I've had so many great examples of mothers throughout my life that I know what kind of mother I hope to be someday in spite of it all. I feel the same about Father's Day. I'm fortunate enough to know the love of great father figures, and I know Kyle will one day be a dad worth celebrating as well.
Happy Mothers Day to all of you - the biological, birth mothers, adoptive mothers, grandmothers, and all of those who fill the role, even in the smallest of ways - thank you.