“Love your parents. We are so busy growing up, we often forgot they are also growing old.”
My friend posted that quote on Facebook today and it made me take a big pause.
Living in a multigenerational home has put the aging process at the top of my mind. I’m not talking about aging in regards to staying wrinkle free, getting a facelift or anything like that. I’m thinking about aging in regards to how time is spent as my loved ones (husband, kids, mother-in-law, my parents) are growing and growing older.
I’ve been spending more time having conversations with my family members about their perspectives on the past, present, and future. It’s been fun and educational to write down and record their voices and lens on their individual and familiar worlds. I love seeing the intersections of my children’s realities with their grandparents. I’m trying to realign certain areas of my life to be more in-tune with them.
I’ve been talking with more caregiver experts and organizations about the aging process, and what I can expect as an adult to aging parents. I think it is unfortunate we do not talk more openly about this, as a family, when there is time to create an “aging” plan. I know there is fear in thinking about the “old years”, but there is also the difficult burden that comes when these conversations happen once crisis has set in.
My parents have been fairly open to discussing this topic with me – if I initiate it. Part of me thinks that’s because I’m an only child and they don’t want me to be in alone in caring for them – if/when they need me to step up and in.
I get stressed a bit when I think about this topic and my mother-in-law. Hubby and I are not talking about it with my mother-in-law because she shuts us down if we try to bring it up, and hubby is not discussing it with his siblings. I’m not sure what to do about it – so I do nothing.
I’ve been noticing the natural tensions that come with generational differences. I’ve also noticed I’m not as patient as I know I should be. My children, or course, are in their own worlds and time moves so slowly in how they conduct their business. Nothing seems urgent and they often lose time in doing whatever moves them. I admire this, but I’m also challenged with slowing my own thinking because there is so much that “has to be done”.
With my parents and mother-in-law, they are also in their own worlds with time moving slowly. I hear them telling more stories from the past and fewer from the present. The way we talk about days, weeks, and months is not in sync. I’m looking beyond the current week or month. They are just focused on today – as it should be. I’m learning, daily, from them on how to stay in the moment.
My next step in my own growth…increase the quality time I spend with my children, parents, and mother-in-law – and keep my interactions based in love.