Parenting Our Parents
The Sandwich Generation is what they call people our age. We continue to parent our children, but also, many of us in our mid to late 40s have found ourselves parenting our own parents. In that sense, to a certain degree, some more than others, we eventually become our parent’s keepers.
My mother will kill me for this. Now in her ____ (age is a national secret) she continues to be smart, sprightly, and yes fiesty. And though we continue to have our off days, everyday, I thank God that she is still around.
Just this week, the father of another classmate passed away. That’s the third one in a span of three weeks. There was R’s dad in his late 60s, J’s mom in her early 80s, and now D’s dad in his, I venture, late 70s. With the exception of J’s mom, I knew them both personally. And so their passing reminds me of my own parents mortality.
Dad died at 49 from a massive heart attack. So we’ve been left with just mom since 1981. I’ve seen a succession of my friend’s parents pass on and I try to be there for them whenever I can, knowing fully well how it feels to lose a parent. Some of my friends have already lost BOTH their parents.
Depending on your age, and the kind of relationship you’ve had with that parent, losing one already changes and matures you especially when it happens below the age of 18. Like it did to me. Parental loss in the early, developmental years has a lifelong impact on the child who experiences it. When you lose a parent in adulthood, you have a better capacity to absorb ad process the pain. Then again, if your relationship was conflicted, or it was an especially close one, it is a painful loss just the same.
When you lose both your folks I guess you really become so aware of your mortality because you’ve become the oldest in your generation, when that happens, there’s no “buffer” anymore between you and the afterlife, because both your parents are both gone. For my friends who at this age continue to have both their parents still, be very thankful, you are blessed. Say what you need to say, love and care for them in the best way that you can.
For those of us who have one remaining parent, we continue to pray that God give them many more days to enjoy the things that they love doing and to be wrapped in the warmth of children and grandchildren.
Sometimes it can be hard to parent a parent, but I guess all we need to remember is the sacrifice they themselves went through in raising us. Who was it who said that there is an expiry date for blaming your parents for the difficulties you went through. I guess that’s why authenticity and forgiveness are key learning concepts in the midlife process. Many of the truths about ourselves and our families, we discover at this life stage. Whatever that may be, move on, forgive, love but build safe boundaries too. Their life is not your life. And life is short to wallow in anger or pettiness. At kahit na ano pa ang sabihin, at ano pa man ang namagitan noon, magulang pa rin natin sila. One day, before we know it, our own children will be parenting us too.