Just as my blog is beginning and I am evolving as a writer, so do I feel that we as parents continue to evolve. As parents, we may begin the journey with one idea how to raise our children, or to care for our aging parents or other relatives, and as we are immersed in the process, we discover new ideas, feelings and beliefs about what we are doing. And it is OK to change our mind and do things a new way. For if what we are doing is not working, surely it makes more sense to try something new rather than continue with the same old patterns because the same old patterns will yield the same old results.
I also feel that I continue to learn from my children. I choose to home educate my children rather than send them to school. Where we live, we are called homeschoolers. Yet, homeschooling does not describe our life. We are not having school at home nor am I acting as their primary teacher. I am their parent, guide and facilitator. Yet, I feel I learn as much if not more from them than they learn from me.
I imagine that as my parents age and possibly need my assistance, which is likely as my father has been diagnosed with Parkinson’s, that I will learn how to best assist them from them. Like learning to listen to my children, I too need to listen to my parents as to what their needs are and how they want my help. I am already learning that. My background in Occupational Therapy and specifically with working with the elderly brings out the caregiver in me in a magnified sense and so when I learned of my father’s diagnosis, I felt the need to help them. I was in anticipatory grief knowing what would likely happen to my father over time, having seen many end-stage Parkinson’s patients while working in Nursing Homes. I wanted to help my mother with her future caregiver role. With time and the guidance of good friends with experience in caring for elderly parents, I began to see that I could offer my help but it was not up to me to figure it all out. I can let them know how I can be of help, but it is up to them to ask for my help. Slowly, I have seen ways to do this.
We have to learn to let our children go as they grow. We can guide them, offer them good examples, provide them with opportunities, love and nurture them and then as they mature and gain more independence, we must let them go allowing them to be who they are. Yes, we must allow them to be who they from the time they are born and once they are able to make independent decisions for themselves, we must step back and let them.
I see this same issue coming to light in approaching my parents and my father’s likely physical and cognitive limitations. I can give them information, support and even advice, but it is up to them to choose it. As an Occupational Therapist, I truly know this and have seen it. I have gone to countless homes while working in home health care, with only a piece of paper telling me the person’s diagnosis and brief medical history that sounds like they must surely be bedridden, only to discover that they can walk and even do some things for themselves. And I have been to see people who have one minor diagnosis but who are trapped by their own fears and beliefs that they can do nothing. In other words, the person’s determination to continue living and do as much for themselves as they can, plays a huge role in how well someone functions, despite their myriad of medical diagnoses. Like a poster I saw in a nursing home said, “Ya Gotta Wanna”. No amount of therapy, medicine or magic can cure a person or even help them if they do not invest something of themselves in the process and make an effort to get better.
As I ponder the need to have patience with my children, my parents and in turn myself, I ask that you who find my blog, are patient with me along my journey.