When I was a kid one thing I wanted the most was to be grown up. I couldn’t wait. It didn’t matter what I was to do as a career, I just wanted to be all grown up. I am sure that most kids think about being a grown up. How can you help it?
Grown ups get to do all the cool stuff. They drive cars and trucks. They have money to buys things. They don’t have to go to school but get to go to cool jobs and have fun when they want.
As a child, what you don’t understand is that all of that comes with great responsibility and stress.
How many nights have I stayed awake worrying about an issue in our household? Whether it was financial, educational or behavioral — it brought me stress and I had to figure out how to fix it.
A child sees grown ups with rose colored glasses on and it all seems safe and fun. Life isn’t always beautiful. It can be down right messy.
The most surprising thing that I have found out as I journey through the world of adulthood, is watching those strong adults that I admired as a child grow old. I had never thought about that being part of my adult experience.
So many of my teachers who I thought would live forever are now retired and some even passed on. Church friends, neighbors and family members have grown older as time has marched on. It is like time is plucking all these influential adults out of my life.
What happens when there is no one left to admire? What will I do when I stand alone? What happens when I become the adult, like the ones I have watched stand strong like a tree in life only to wither into the abyss? The scary thing is that one day I will be withering away as well.
I hate to see the adults in my life grow old. It gives me an unsteady feeling but the circle of life keeps moving and it will happen to us all one day.
At some point in our lives we have to accept that it is our turn to take care of the people who took care of us. How it hurts my heart that this job will come before me one day. I will accept the challenge for people whom I love so dearly and do it to the best of my ability.
I imagine that this life challenge will be harder than raising my son. When you raise a child you do it your way and they learn from it and mold into your life. I would think caring for a parent or grandparent is more challenging because the roles of your relationship have to change. In fact, they almost reverse. That causes great anxiety to everyone involved.
No more can that parent be totally in charge. It hurts their pride to think that they need help and can’t do the things they used to. I believe that is why older people can be grouchy. They feel they are losing their independence.
It hurts the caregiver as well because it is painful to take that independence away from someone. No one wants to see someone who once stood tall, was fun and active become old, sick and needy. Taking that away from a person is not something I would ever want to do but I guess it might be something I will have to do one day, hopefully a long time from now.
I just hope that I can do it as well as I have seen others do it. My mother and uncle did all they could for my grandparents. They did it with respect, compassion and a little bit of humor all while trying not to take away to much independence. Together they gave their parents the gift of unconditional love. The kind of love they received as babies and children.
Thinking about all of this, it is kind of true what that old bumper sticker says, “Be good to your children, they pick out your nursing home.” After the humor of that settles down, the truth of the matter is we will treat them as well as they treated us. After all, we all learned to love from the adults who came before us.