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?