Monday, August 31, 2015
When You Become the Parent (Or, My Advice for My Mom and Her Sprained Wrist)
At first, it can feel like an odd place to be. Instead of following the rules, you're the one making them. You're the one saying, "don't forget to take your pills." You're the one doing the remembering when passwords and phone numbers are forgotten. You're the one doing the check-in phone calls.
And you're the one putting on the scrubs and assuming the caretaker role. I'm not exactly sure when I first sensed our roles beginning to change, but ever since my father died, I've just felt this need to take care of my mom. I'm sure there's quite a bit of psychology behind the whole thing, but someone needed to watch out for her, you know? It's a good thing, too, because I woke up one morning last week to this text...
"So I am at Urgent Care. I tripped and sprained my wrist. Klutzy."
Oh, no, I thought. What could possibly have happened? When I talked to her on the phone a couple hours later, I got the full story. As she was walking into school, she tripped on an uneven patch of sidewalk and landed on her wrist.
It wasn't too long before long I found myself asking those parental sorts of questions.
How did that happen?
What were you doing?
Were you watching where you were going?
My mom proceeded to beat around the bush for a few minutes, which told me everything I needed to know: This woman was in need of my guidance and advice. Quite desperately, actually. So, Ms. Bear, I hope you're reading. Here are my three pieces of healing wisdom for you...
1. Slow down: I've lost count of just how many times I've told you this. You move faster than the Energizer Bunny, and no, that IS NOT something to be proud of. Going, going, going is certainly no way to live, and life isn't one giant race. Walk slower, don't do things so fast; it's OK to do things at your own pace. Sometimes I think you've been around your students too long and picked up their "Must-Do-It-Now" mentality, and what I once saw as you being bossy might just be an overwhelming need to see that things are done as quickly as possible. But be careful not to confuse quickly with efficiently because they're most definitely not the same thing. You can be quick, but that doesn't guarantee you'll be efficient. On the flipside, just because you may take your time with something doesn't mean it can't be efficient. Keep that in mind.
2. Ask for help: I feel like we've been over this many times before, but a little refresher can't hurt, right? Asking for help IS NOT a sign of weakness, which is something you taught me, ironically. We all can't do everything on our own, nor should we have those high expectations for ourselves. The world can be a scary and complicated place; why not go through it with people right by your side? Things will go a lot smoother, trust me. Like I'm always reminding you, people want to help, so reach out and grab their hand. You'll be glad you did.
3. Don't forget to have fun: Leave that pile of laundry for another day -- it's not going anywhere. Stop and smell those metaphorical (or literal!) roses. If the last decade has taught us anything, it's that your entire life can change in the blink of an eye so you've got to make every single moment count. I'm not saying that you should do anything too wild or crazy (or illegal!), but something to shake up your routine -- even something tiny -- might bring a much-needed smile to your face. And as we all know, when Ms. Bear smiles, the whole world smiles!