See that little girl in the picture? That’s the 3-year old me. I’m sitting between my parents and while I’m decades away from that picture the anxiety in my facial expression is something I feel today. (By the way I had to go to the bathroom in this picture and if you knew me then you’d know that I HATED public bathrooms…that’s info for another post).
Here’s the reason for my anxiety today. The telephone.
Now that all of our children are living away at college, phone calls have more significance to me.
If the call comes in during the day or early evening, I’m fine. But late, late calls or early morning calls cause me some anxiety. My imagination goes into overdrive and I worry about the worst scenarios.
Are they hurt, are they stuck somewhere, or do they need me to come get them?
But there’s more. It’s not just the kids that have me worried, it’s my parents (who live 10 minutes away from me). In addition to wondering what crisis my kids might be in, my overactive imagination begins to wonder what ailment may have befallen my aging parents.
Keep in mind these scary scenarios all take place in my mind within the 10-20 seconds it takes me to dash to my nearest phone.
Welcome to life as a “sandwhich generation” adult (raising kids / taking care of aging parents). Being a tail-end baby boomer I have parents that are active “barely” boomers themselves. They’ve just entered their 70′s but you’d think they were in their 50′s the way they keep active and involved in so many things including our busy lives and that’s no easy feat.
As the months turn into years, I’ve begun thinking more and more about how I can be the best supportive daughter to my parents and the best non-neurotic parent to my kids. Let me tell you that’s a tall order!
Here are the few tips I’ve landed on through experience that I’ll share with you. Hopefully you’ll be able to adjust for your own benefit:
- Just because kids have their Blackberries or iPhone’s glued to some part of their body, don’t call or text them every day. You’ll lose your mind if they don’t respond within the day. Again, depending on your over-active imagination this may or may not be an issue.
- Even though I’ve noticed that I’m getting a little forgetful in my forties, I don’t often give my parents enough slack when they forget things. My dear mother will tell me a story about some relative or friend and then repeat the story to me a day later. After about a year of this I told her she simply had to stop it as I refused to believe that she was getting that old and forgetful. Really I meant I won’t let her get that old. Unfortunately I can’t control that. Be patient and kind.
- Don’t put off for tomorrow what you can do today. Sometimes I get so caught up in my to do list I forget how important it is to take the time to visit my parents (remember they live only 10 minutes away). Even though I know an intended 30-minute visit will inevitably turn into 3-hours, I love my parents world-without-end and know the day will come when I will wish for the times when I could just “drop” by for a visit with them.
Okay that’s enough tips for now, I’m getting teary as I write this.
Just remember that if you fear those early morning calls it can only mean you are loved enough to be at the top of someone’s contact list when they need assistance or a sympathetic ear.
Enjoy your families and friends!