A to Z Blogging Challenge · family


The very best advice ever given to me was given by my mother-in-law.

When I had just one little boy, life was fun. Oh, I thought it was hard because he didn’t sleep very well, but, all in all, it was fun. I had plenty of hands and plenty of help.

My mom, Philip, and me
My mom, Philip, and me

When I went from one to two, life just got funner.

Two artists
Two artists

Going from two to three, though, meant that I ran out of hands, but that was okay. Backpacks and front carriers worked well.

Feeding seagulls
Feeding seagulls

From three to four presented a problem. I had no where else to put a child.

Myrtle Beach - 1993
Myrtle Beach – 1993

Somewhere in that two-three-four child range, I realized I was really struggling to do this job. My mother-in-law raised thirteen children. Well, actually, fourteen, because a cousin came to live with them when her mother died. I asked my mother-in-law one day how she did it.

“You just do,” she said. That’s all there is to it.

D is for Do.

“Fred” asked me a riddle the other day, “How do you eat an elephant?”

I think he was hoping I would say, “With an elephant fork,” but I knew the answer — one bite at a time.

You just do.

You take one step forward. Then another. Then another.

That advice helped me through child-rearing, and later, in the midst of adult caregiving. Caring for someone with dementia is not unlike caring for small children.

When life is overwhelming, look around for something you can do — some small thing, a baby step you can take forward or even sideways, a tiny bite you can take of the elephant.


Family Reunion
My mother-in-law (center) surrounded by the fruits of her “do”-ing — 2011


14 thoughts on “Do

  1. Yes, you are so right. You can look back on what you’ve done and feel good. Looking forward with all the unknowns is very hard and maybe better not contemplated except for the necessary planning. The “Now” is all that really matters and you can surely manage one moment at a time.
    My mother just passed, after years of growing dementia, and I am so happy for her to be “free at last” of her difficult circumstances.

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