The Sunday before last I had been pushing my mom along the sidewalk in her wheelchair to Starbucks where we often go for tea. She can walk, but not quite that way roundtrip. On the way we passed a young mother pushing her toddler daughter in a stroller. We all smiled at each other. In the moment after our experience I’got’ the symbolism of the encounter.
Let’s understand it
I believe she did too. It’s a circle game as Joni Mitchell used to state. The mother we passed takes good care of her little girl and one day that woman may look after her mom. After this idea about the circle of life I recalled the Robert Munsch story Love You Forever. He’s always been one of my favorite authors. Love You Forever started as a song, which came from a very sad time in Munsch’s life.
I didn’t know that until today when I went to his website. You may read the story there; it is very intriguing. When we heard Munsch tell his tales in Belleville Ontario in 1989, Love You Forever was one of those he told. It’s about a mother who raises her son, then when she is very, very old, he looks after her. He explained that if he tells that story all the kids laugh and the parents shout.
Keep in mind
Although it’s been years since I read it, the pictures are ingrained in my mind. It moves me deeply. In the circle of time parents care for kids and sometimes children care for parents. Most of us midlife women don’t have our aging parents in our houses living with us, but a lot of us are hands-on health professionals.
Some people are professional caregivers that usually have spouses, children and aging parents too. It’s a difficult job and often a very emotional one to be with our parents (or other handicapped family members such as spouses and children) because their psychological and/or bodily capacities diminish over time gradually, or sometimes quickly as with cancer.
This new role is in addition to our everyday tasks of school, work, parenting, relationship and other private life. The extra duty is taken on as a labor of love, or duty, or a combination of both. In the beginning the extra commitment may not seem like a lot, but gradually, over time, the demands of this aging parent become greater. It requires a toll on us on our own bodies, our minds and our souls.
Our society has cut back on many health care options previously available to midlife kids, yet a general, comprehensive support system, (for the caregivers in addition to the aging parent), does not exist in the community to the level it’s needed. This means we must be very proactive about meeting our own needs by taking on just what we can handle reasonably and have some time, and more importantly energy left for ourselves. We need very powerful, clear boundaries. For who will do so for us, if we do not do it ourselves?