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A Daughter’s Guilt: Are You Too “Busy” For The People In Your Life?


Mother’s guilt. Well-known, often talked about. But what about a daughter’s guilt? The kind caused when you go from the cared-for child, to the caring-for adult and finish up with the being-cared-for elderly parent? This is not a rhetorical question; I really need to know because I because I can see that coming and fast.

Was it the rain? The Thanksgiving holiday? Watching my mother and coming to the realization that she needs a tad bit more help than she used to? I would say all of the above. I’m not speaking out of turn here with regard to my mother; she’d tell you herself, “I’m older. I don’t run.”  That usually comes when we’re just shy of a full-on sprint. But lately I’ve found myself having to take an extra beat, an extra breath and use a boatload of patience (not my strong suit) with her.

I walked her into the airport, got her boarding pass, sent her on her way then went back to the car and cried. Why? Who the hell knows? I think because the woman who always took care of me is becoming increasingly dependent on others to care for her. And you know what? That’s gonna be me someday.

That’s a bit of a tough pill to swallow I think, primarily because it means we have to face our own mortality. We have to know that we’re not always going to be sitting atop this perch, barking orders at our children; someday they’re going to be occupying that space. And they’ll be on the run, talking too fast and be engrossed in new technology that is befuddling to us.

As I drove away I felt like the most ungrateful daughter. Months ago, I said I was going to print off some pictures from our trip to Disney. I didn’t get around to it because who carries pictures around anymore? Don’t we just whip out our smart phones and show them? Nope. We all do not. She does not.

So it’s time to take a beat, take a breath before there are no moments left. Being busy is a good thing and Lord knows I am. But being too busy to enjoy those in your life, to slow down and relate to them on their level, be they young or elderly, is not good, for us or them.

What about you? Do you find it difficult to slow down with those who need it? How do you deal with aging parents? And how are you dealing with the idea that you’ll be there one day?


  1. Beth @ TheAngelForever

    November 29, 2011 at 2:53 pm

    The reality of my parents getting older hit the other day. My mother is having surgery in a few weeks and although this is not the “big” one coming down the road, I worry. On Thanksgiving, we had a quiet day with just TechyDad, the boys, and my parents. It was the first day in quite some time that I put my computer away, tried to avoid looking at my cell phone, and really enjoyed being with my family. It was nice even if I was twitching a little bit. At the end of the day before going home, I curled up on the couch and put my head down on my mother’s shoulder. This is something I had not done in a long time. It reminded me of days gone by and hope for many more days together. My mother’s parents passed away so young that I think I take our time together for granted and I need to stop. With that, I think I need to give my parents a hug later on to thank them for always being there and remind them that I am also there for them no matter what.

  2. pattyrowland

    November 29, 2011 at 2:58 pm

    my parents are in their mid to late 70s…both still seem vibrant enough but when my mom fell and broke her hip this past january, she basically said to take her out back and shoot her…she is still going strong but with a bit of a limp…i don’t want to think about my parents not being here because they’re pretty much the only constant i have…i have 2 daughters but right now they’re off living their own lives and don’t have much time for dear old mom…expected but still stings a bit none the less.

  3. Dave M

    November 29, 2011 at 3:28 pm

    I had this same worry in the last couple days. I know, I’m not a Mom, but having lost my wife in March, time is in excessively short supply. I wonder if my kids look at me as the Dad they used to see or the disciplinarian obsessed with staying on routine?
    By the time the daily routine has ended they’re all in bed and it’s 12 or 1am.
    Beside the bedtime routine, reading a chapter of Harry Potter each night or tickling them before the evening shower, will they have the memories I did? Playing in the park? Riding their bikes? I worry that it takes so much energy just to get through the day the important things fall by the wayside. I don’t have an answer, only hope that I can spark enough good memories they don’t look at this year as the year it all went wrong.

  4. Rene Syler

    November 29, 2011 at 3:34 pm

    @Dave M: Wow, this really touched me Dave, thank you for sharing this. You know I have that fear too. I used to ask my husband, ” How will my kids remember me? Will they remember me as resilient and strong? Or will they see someone felled by a lot of really tough stuff?” He said, “I think you are showing them what life is really about and how to handle it when things don’t go your way.” Dave, I feel the same for you. Your kids will remember you as the rock they held on to when the going got tough. Bless you and this new journey you are taking!

  5. Karen Baitch Rosenberg

    November 29, 2011 at 11:57 pm

    I tell my daughters to pay attention when I help care for my ailing in-laws. Hope they’re taking notes, because it will be their turn one day ~

  6. m.e. johnson

    November 30, 2011 at 1:20 pm

    Stop worrying. Without a crystal ball you don’t know how you or your parent(s) will deal with age. S/he may be doing better at 89 than you at 59. We can very very rarely correctly predict what we will do in a situation.

    As an old, I live alone and do for myself pretty good or hire someone. I’m fortunate that daught is a couple miles away and is The Jewel Of The Universe. She visits once a week or so, will bring what I ask for (which I try to keep at a minimum), we talk on the phone. I do not ever want to be a burden. But I fear going to a ‘home’ more. I’d rather just be g.o.n.e.

    I have always hated to hear people say (especially to the child(ren), “My kids will take care of me.” Guilt trip guilt trip guilt trip plus no guarantee. You will do what you want to, what you can do or what you must do. Worrying now won’t change that.

  7. Denetra

    November 30, 2011 at 11:15 pm

    Oh this post was deep! I like you can clearly see my parents aging and it makes me so sad. My Dad had heart surgery almost two years and that was the very first time in my 43 years to see him at such a vunerable state. It was heart wrenching. I’m thankful that my Mom lives about 5 miles from me and my children are keeping her young but the aging is definately there. My father lives about 3 hours away and we do not see him as often as we should. When we do the aging is so evident. We have to make an effort to be more available. How I don’t know. At the same time, we cannot beat ourselves up after we do what we honestly can. They know what we are doing and love us just the same. Time is so precious because I remember when my parents are where I am now.

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