On a new plateau this Mother’s Day

The mother who comes home from the hospital with a newborn for the first time does so with a sense of relief, feeling excited about the return to familiar surroundings to establish a new normalcy as a new parent.

But there’s that sense of terror, too, those panicky moments as reality sets in, the understanding that you’re responsible for this precious new little life.

Someone is dependent on you, and you have this herculean job ahead of you.

The weight of all that is enough to make any new mom feel a bit overwhelmed and wondering if she’s up for the challenge.

I get that, speaking from past experience two times around.

I felt that same tug of emotions recently, though, when I returned to familiar surroundings, for sure.

I was excited about “returning home,” ready to establish a new normalcy, but this time it was a nursing home I was leaving, not a maternity ward.

And I was a daughter bringing home her mother, not a newborn.

The who’s in charge is in reverse, a cruel irony of the aging process, I guess.

Such is another unfamiliar plateau I’ve reached in the mother-daughter relationship, a timely topic considering it’s Mother’s Day 2013.

I’ve had some time to contemplate that in what’s been an ongoing stepped-up caregiving role that has been a climb up some steep-getting-steeper steps for more than two years now.

Better Half and I have told each other all along that when the time comes, we’ll step up to the plate and go to bat, do the right thing, give it our best shot.

So we’re on this next phase of the care-giving journey, a trip that in no way distinguishes us given it is a role so common to so many, but it’s new to us.

Most days bring new discoveries or reaffirm sometimes harsh, sometimes happy realities.

I understand, for example, that even though I’m a control freak, I can’t control what’s happening now, only adapt as best as I can because caregiving consumes your life, redefines it, robs it and rewards it all at the same time.

I realize that some days I feel good about all this.

Other days I don’t.

I feel stress.

I feel joy.

I feel hopeful.

I feel helpless.

I feel sad, knowing that if I didn’t pay attention to family stories told again and again almost to exhaustion, now it’s too late.

I feel trapped, touched, bothered, blessed yet calmed by a peace that surpasses all understanding.

How can that be?

This is a new chapter of life, the middle and ending unknown, the present clear – it’s one step at a time, baby steps we’re willing to take and embrace together.

Happy Mother’s Day.

(Kiaski, a resident of Steubenville, is a staff columnist and features writer for the Herald-Star and The Weirton Daily Times and community editor for the Herald-Star. She can be contacted at jkiaski@heraldstaronline.com.)