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Friday, April 1, 2016

Aging Parents and Role Reversal

Recently my youngest sister had a baby. As I watch her with the baby, I realize how helpless a baby is. A newborn requires around the clock care. Almost every two hours the child needs to be fed and their diaper changed. They are helpless and without a parent or caregiver the child wouldn't survive.

As a parent, we have a huge responsibility to provide for our child. Most take this seriously and do the best they can by being a loving and caring parent. Parents give their lives for their children. I know as a mom of two girls, my life changed when I became a mom. My life wasn't about me anymore, it was about my child. I knew having children would be life changing, but I don't think I fully understood what it meant until I actually had my first daughter.

I had my first daughter a little later in life at age 34, so I was already well on my way in my career. I had done my dream job of being a television news reporter for several years and then went on to be the spokesperson for the Mayor. My husband and I both had great jobs and were able to do just about anything in a moment's notice that came along whether it was a vacation, concert or night out with friends.

Having our first daughter changed all that. She was the best thing that could have happened in our lives and we are so blessed to have her.

 I decided to give up my career and be a stay at home mom, so I could take care of my daughter. My husband changed jobs to be closer to family, so my daughter could grow up with her cousins. We decided it was what was best for our daughter.

As parents, we make these changes and sometimes sacrifices, but in the long run we feel they will pay off and be the best decisions. So far it's worked out well. I know my parents made sacrifices and still do to help me, my brother, sisters and our families.

This week my aunt was visiting and I noticed how as people get older the parent child roles reverse. My aunt is in her 70's, a widow and had a stroke and can't remember things that well and needs assistance. Her daughter and son-in-law have taken her into their home and care for her. My cousin has had to make changes in her lifestyle to take care of her mom. She has a full-time job and now has to take off work to take her mom to the doctor. Her vacation isn't only with her husband and four kids, but with her mom now. Luckily my cousins children are in college or older, so she isn't taking care of little kids too, but it is still challenging. If my cousin wasn't there to help my aunt, she wouldn't be able to live her life. My aunt depends on her for food, helping her with getting her correct medications and taking her to the doctor and other important elements of living.

I know my parents may possibly be there too one day and I want to be there for them. I think it's what being a family is all about; taking care of one another. Our role as a child changes as our parents get older. Instead of our parents taking care of us, it's now our turn to take care of them.

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