When Leah was born, my first child, I was overwhelmed. Not surprising, most first time moms are. Each time she cried, which seemed often, I would go through the possibilities: hungry? wet diaper? too cold/ too hot? needing to be cuddled? In an effort to bring some order to chaos, I kept a pad where I wrote down how long she slept, how long she nursed, and her diaper production (a nice way of saying her pooping and peeing). Writing it down seemed to help. With time it became more routine, and I relaxed as I learned about my baby.
I noticed that when Dan and Beth had their beautiful baby girl they more or less did the same thing, but they had an app for that! She is now approaching 11 months, they stopped using the app quite a while ago, as they too eased into parenthood.
Both my mother and my father-in-law, 85 and 96 respectively, have faced serious health challenges over recent weeks. My mom had an operation to have a cancerous tumor removed from her left lung (the second time she faced this, 3 years ago she had a cancerous tumor removed from her right lung). My father-in-law had pneumonia. He was hospitalized, fortunately briefly, and seems to be slowly recovering. Pretty miraculous – I don’t think many 96 year olds survive pneumonia. They are both progressing in fits and starts.
My anxiety about their recoveries reminds me of how I felt when Leah was born. A fear of doing the wrong thing, of not knowing what might be helpful, of understanding whether a symptom is serious or not, of not being attentive enough or maybe too focused. You can make yourself crazy.
So, we have come full circle – concerned about those basic bodily functions. Here’s hoping that they continue to work, and that my anxiety lessens as they do.
It is times like these that I wish I was a person of faith, but I don’t feel it. When my dad was seriously ill, and it turned out was approaching the end of his life, I had these same anxieties. Though I don’t believe in God (that’s an essay for another time), I found myself offering up a prayer to the universe: give me strength, give me the wisdom to know what to do and have mercy on my father. I silently repeated those words regularly over the course of the weeks. I don’t know if it helped. I did get through it. I offer that same prayer now. I will see this through, too.
2 thoughts on “Full Circle”
Linda- you worry about making yourself crazy. Don’t. Being crazy has many fine attributes and never causes me any concerns.
I thought of the term sandwich generation to describe those worried about/taking care of both parents and children and I immediately realized that while we naturally are always concerned for our children’s well being, we have not taken care of them for quite some time. They are quite self sufficient and I am very grateful for that.
We have not yet reached the point at which the children are taking care of us either-give it time. But I do feel that we absolutely do burden our children with our stories, our families and the issues that transcend generations. We want them to share the values that are central to our families; to share the pride in what their grandparents, aunts, uncles and other relatives did but we also saddle them with the anxieties and troubles that come along with the pride and accomplishment.
I don’t know that there is an alternative, but our children bear the burden of also worrying about our parents, of honoring their legacies and of living in the shadow of what they have endured.
I guess, if you’re going to be a member of the club, get the key to the fort and learn the secret handshake, you also have to bear the burdens that come along with the benefits.
But your blog post made me think of the various ways that the parents impact the children for better or worse.