I’ve always believed that children are a delightful, tenuous gift, bestowed upon parents for a small number of exciting, tiring, nervewracking years.
Children don’t ‘belong’ to their parents like a designer watch, the latest HD TV or new design of car. Children come into your life, take all your time and money and then, hopefully, go out into the world, equipped to make their own decisions, choices and mistakes. The parental role then changes. Listening and supporting become the main tasks and though you never cease to care and worry, their decisions are their own, as are the consequences of those decisions.
It works the other way too. Children don’t ‘owe’ their parents anything or should feel responsible for their parents’ lives. Recently, my son at Uni forgot my birthday. It made me sad that I didn’t hear from him but he is living his own life, as is his right, and forgetting one day doesn’t mean he loves me less.
Roles reverse as parents age, the children supporting the wants and wishes of their parents.
During a recent spell in hospital after a fall and a mini stroke, my mum returned to find her home furnished with lino flush from wall to wall in kitchen, bathroom, pantry and loo and fitted bedroom carpet, all to avoid dangerous trip hazards. We worked hard to achieve this for her, with the consent of her occupational therapist and herself but, now home, with carers in every day for 6 weeks and a programme being put into place for private care on a Monday, Wednesday and Friday for after, mum’s life is her own again. She will make decisions for her own life, choosing how she spends her time, what she eats,when she sleeps and how she socialises.
This independence at the age of 91, is how she wants to live her life. Nothing I do or say will change her, and it shouldn’t. With support around her, she is free to live her own life and, in turn, I mine.
No one can ‘make’ your life but you. Yes, we may want more time with some people or wish others would visit or contact more often but everyone has the right to live their own lives.
Love your family unconditionally. See them when you want to. Love them all the time.
Lovely post, Wendy. And one that must have been difficult to write. I hope your Mum’s back on her feet – but I also hope she appreciates what a lovely caring daughter she has too.
Lovely message and so true. I am a mother who’s children have all flown the nest and it’s hard but necessary to let them make their own choices and bear the consequences. I also have the priviledge of working as a live-in carer for elderly people in the UK from time to time and it is really necessary for them to be able to live as independently as possible for as long as possible.
Thank you Peter and Jane for your kind, supportive words x