It is no secret that as I get older, my parents are getting older. As each year passes, I worry more about their health and well-being, quite possibly very much like they worried about me as I was growing up. I worry because one of our parents is in poor health and currently does need special medical attention. I worry because we live so far away from them, and if something does happen, how I can help? Most of all, I worry about getting them to accept my help. Why does it have to be so hard?
Distance makes the heart grow fonder. I think distance also makes it harder for parents to accept help. It seemed like it was so easy when we lived 20 minutes away from each other. Now that we only see each other a few times a year, it I think it becomes more difficult to accept help, because you don't want anything to dampen the joy of our visits.
Independence Day. Our parents spent their entire lives being independent and making their own decisions, as well as a number of decisions for us throughout our lives. It has got to be hard to accept help and even hard to ask for it. I know it is for me; why wouldn't it be for them?
Pride goes before a fall. I know there have been many mistakes I've made in my life, when I've refused to drop my pride, before I fell. I can only imagine where I may have learned this trait from. It can be hard to ask for help, and even harder to acknowledge that you need it.
Freaky Friday. You may have heard of the movie, "Freaky Friday," (most recently with Lindsay Lohan and Jamie Lee Curtis) where the mom and the daughter trade places and find a whole new appreciation for each other's position. It got off to a pretty rocky start, didn't it? I think trying to get parents to accept our help is much like that. For years they had their place, and we had ours. Now all of a sudden it seems like those roles have changed quite a bit and it will take time to make it work.
Sibling rivalry. Sibling rivalry doesn't end just because we are all grown up. Maybe a sibling is closer to an elderly parent, either in proximity or relationship so it is easier for a parent to ask them for help. It is more comfortable or they don't feel like they are inconveniencing your brother or sister because after all they are "right there."
It's no big deal. "Hi honey. How are you? I just thought I would call and let you . . . . but everything is fine and really, it's no big deal." Have you ever had one of those calls from your parents? Or maybe you have had the "But I just didn't want to worry you." Or even harder to accept "I didn't want to inconvenience you." Mom and Dad, you raised me better than that. It is a big deal, because I love you and I want to know these things. Remember coaching my soccer team and working overtime so I could go to private school? I'm pretty sure those were an inconvenience to you at that point in time, but you did them.
As a grown up child, it was hard at first for me to figure out why parents do the things they do. But then I realized how often I hide from my children that I'm sick or hurt or put a good face on a situation. It's what some parents do. Once I could understand our elderly parents point of view a little bit better, it because a whole lot easier to not only find ways to offer my help but to get them to accept it.
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