The Tale of a Real Life Superwoman

Author: Michelle Ioannou, Real Life Stories

I know what you’re thinking. Another millennial female claiming that her mother is her best friend and the best person in the world. Well, yes, I am claiming that, but give me a second here.

My mother is Superwoman.

I don’t say that lightly. If you know me, you know I don’t say a lot of things lightly. If I say mom-4something I mean it. And I mean it when I say that my mother is wonder woman.

I grew up in a house where two out of the four of us were confined to wheelchairs. My father was diagnosed with Multiple Sclerosis and my brother was diagnosed with Duchenne Muscular Dystrophy. My mother automatically became their caregiver.

Not only was she caring for her husband – the love of her life — but she had to watch him suffer. She had to watch him get weaker and weaker. She had to watch the disease take his life.

But no, it doesn’t stop there.

My mother has to continue to watch her son — her little boy — fight a different disease every day. She’s had to watch him stop playing baseball, the sport he continues to love. Or not be invited places because they aren’t handicap accessible. Or watch him go from being able to feed himself to needing someone to not only feed him, but to move his hand on top of the wheelchair control so he could move it.

Wait, no, it doesn’t stop there either.

Throughout all this, my mother served as their primary caregiver. From dressing to cooking to cleaning she’s done it all. Even the gross stuff that no one wants to talk about, like helping them go to the bathroom — yes, all bathroom functions — blowing noses, bathing, taking care when they’re sick; she’s done it all. Do you know how hard it is to care for someone who’s confined to a wheelchair when that person is sick with a stomach virus? My mother’s been there, done that…and never thought twice about it.

My mother is the most selfless person you may ever meet.

She’s put her own wants, needs and life to the side to care for others. She dedicated her life to caring for my father when he was alive, no matter how sick he got. She never left his side. Why? He was the love of her life, and she would do anything for him.

mom-2It’s been almost seven years since my father’s passing, and my mother’s caregiving role is still as strong as ever. My brother’s disease has progressed, and unfortunately he cannot do much on his own anymore. She has to plan her days around him. If there’s snow outside, they can’t go out because you can imagine how well a wheelchair can do on ice. If it’s too hot and humid outside, they can’t go out because it’s difficult for my brother to breathe. My brother cannot be left home alone, making him and my mother almost inseparable.

It doesn’t just stop there, though. Does my brother call for my mother three times a night because he needs to be moved and he can’t do it himself? Yes, that happens, and that happens quite often. Does my mother need to allot at least an hour of her morning to getting my brother awake, to the bathroom, dressed, and out of bed? Yes – in fact, an hour is being generous.

On top of all of this, for much of my upbringing, yes, I had two parents, but in a way, I didn’t. My mother had to serve the role of both parents.

My father was diagnosed when I was just six years old. By the time I was in middle school, he was in a wheelchair and not driving. My mother was the one who brought us to school, play dates, after school activities, dance rehearsal and so much more. She acted as strong as two parents when I sobbed after a dance competition in which I didn’t score the highest. She was the parent at my brother’s and my parent-teacher conferences. She was the one who had to do everything alone.

There’s a lot behind the scenes that people don’t realize my mother took care of. She had to figure out our finances and make sure that we never went over our budget. She had to figure out how to send her college-age daughter (yes, yours truly) off to college while knowing that her husband was not doing well. She had to figure out health insurance and school disability services for her disabled son. She’s had to go to bat to ensure that her son was getting everything he needed.

And she never hesitated to do any of these things, ever.

Want to know the crazy part in all this? mom-3My mother still has the time and energy to be my best friend. We still binge watch cheesy Hallmark movies and spend our weekends out shopping with each other. She’ll crawl into my bed in the morning or at night just to talk about everything. Sometimes, she’ll even surprise me with Dunkin in the morning. And yes, I live at home – and I hope you understand why after reading all this.

My mother was a caregiver and still is a caregiver, and yet, she is one 0f the funniest, and funnest people you’ll ever meet. Despite how difficult our life is — and hers especially — she doesn’t let it get her down. She’s the first to always remind me of all the blessings that I have, and everything I should be grateful for. She’s the one who pushed her own emotions to the side when my father passed and focused on my brother and me to make sure we were okay. She’s the first to remind us of the happy memories of my father. She’s the person who reminds us to focus on the good. She’s the greatest person I know.

My mother is Superwoman. There’s no other way of putting it.

To learn more about Multiple Sclerosis, please click here. To learn more about Duchenne Muscular Dystrophy, please click here.

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