Friday, May 7, 2010

Growing up is hard to do!

In my job, I work with older adults. There are close to 60,000 on my mailing list, so of course, I do not know them all.

But after 11+ years of this job, I have gotten to know quite a few quite well.

During those years I have seen the rapid decline in the health of some, the passing of more than I want to think about, and everything in between.

Unfortunately, what I have seen is a lack of involvement by the adult children in their aging parents lives, not by all, but way too many.

I have a theory about this.

As adults, our parents are our only link to being a child.

Our siblings don't appreciate us acting like kids. Our kids don't appreciate us acting like kids. Our co-workers, our bosses, our friends, our neighbors aren't for it either. Only our parents will accept us when we want to act like a kid and complain about a bruise, a wrong done against us, listen when no one else understands how wonderful we are, to take up for us, to help battle our enemies, and still love us in spite of ourselves.

So when you begin to see a decline in your parents' health, memory, well being, you run the opposite direction.

If they are mortal, then you must be too.

And if you sit still long enough, they might start complaining about their problems! The nerve of them!

To actually sit and listen as they want to discuss losing a good friend to cancer, that preparing meals can be a pain, that they have health problems, switches the roles and we are forced to be the adults and no longer get to be the child.

It IS hard to hear all of this. It IS hard to think they will not be there for you as you face older age.

One of our favorite older people is losing faster than maintaining. The children decided they would avoid the situation and expect us to deal with it. That cannot work because they are not decisions for us to make.

My parents are going through a difficult time.

Very important people in their lives have been from ill to gravely ill. They have had to assume considerably more responsibility rather than enjoying their "retirement years". It is taking a toll on their health and their mental status. It is depressing just to hear about it, much less to be living it.

In fact, what they are dealing with is overwhelming.

There are a lot of younger people who need to be taking charge, but I think we all still want to be the kids. I'm not sure what is going on with my generation or maybe I just hear about those who are not willing to step up to the challenge.

This growing up stuff is hard. Growing older is even harder.

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