Back at It: Grown-Up Pains
Sometimes I feel like I'm still sixteen years old and I'm playing pretend. I generally don't know what the fuck I'm doing. I still can't believe that I'm responsible for other human beings. I will say, I am a big believer in 'faking it 'til you make it'. I'm learning as I go as most do. I’m hesitant to say that this is a “mom blog” or a “caregiver blog”. Yes, I’m a mom to twin preschoolers and I’m the caregiver to my 59 year old mother who lives in a memory care facility. But I’m also desperately clinging on to whatever is left of the fun, carefree 20-something me.
I’ll go back a bit. I moved to Los Angeles when I was twenty from a tiny town in Maine. My college in New York had an internship program in LA where you could intern for credit while taking classes. I pounced. I hated winter. Over the next few years I bounced from job to job, soaking in the sunny LA lifestyle. I worked at MTV and E! Entertainment among other. I dated douchebags. I went to clubs and bars and concerts. We did road trips to Vegas and Palm Springs. I put my career first and showed up early and stayed late. I answered emails immediately. I was living my 20s. I had few responsibilities and I was having the time of my life.
In the midst of all of this blur, I met my husband. It happened very quickly. We met, fell in love, moved in together. A year after, we were engaged. And, a year after that we were married. I found myself 25 and married. None of my friends were married. In fact, few even had significant others. I was like a unicorn.
For a variety of reasons that I'll get into at a later date, we decided to move to the next big step; babies. And so, I became a 27 year old new mom to twins. To most of America, I'm sure 27 doesn't sound young at all. Actually, the average age for new moms in the U.S. is 26 years old. But this isn't most of America. This is LA, the land of Botox and Peter Pan Syndrome. Again, total unicorn. At least in the circles we run in.
Around the same time, my kind, sweet mother was diagnosed with Huntington’s Disease. It came out of nowhere and shattered everything I knew. It hollowed me out and aged me in ways I can’t even begin to explain. Huntington’s Disease, sometimes called HD, involves the slow deterioration of cognitive thinking, muscle coordination and the appearance of behavioral and psychiatric problems. There is no cure. There are no proven treatments. The disease itself often starts out with subtle mood swings or twitching and progresses to a total loss of independence.
Because there was no one else, I became her caregiver. More responsibility. More emotions. Some days I feel like I’m drowning. There is no manual for this. I’m learning as I go.
I’ve blogged before and I’ve added my old blog posts to this site. I wrote them when we were in the thick of my mom’s diagnosis. I was overwhelmed and wanted to tell my story. This is the aftermath. This is what happens when your mom is diagnosed with Huntington’s Disease and, at 27 years old, you become your mother’s Power of Attorney, the keeper of medical records, and her caregiver. And while we’re still making mistakes and figuring it all out, I hope that I can pass along some of the information I’ve gathered. Or, if anything, I can let someone else know that they aren’t completely alone in this.
I’m coming to terms with being a grown up and putting it out there that not everyone has the picture perfect life. And that’s okay.