Wednesday, March 6, 2013

March FAMILY Magazine Mom Blog

Each month, I write a Mom Blog for our Magazine.  It's my letter from the Publisher FAMILY style!

How Important is Mom?

This month I have been in the thick of planning my youngest daughter’s wedding. Fortunately (or unfortunately – depending upon my husband’s perspective) my daughter is a lot like her mom and loves planning a long way out. For reference, her wedding is March 1, 2014. We’re almost at the year mark! Time to get busy – or busier in our case.

Recently, we have gone through some major decisions that showed a side of her that so resembles her dad and me. Her choices warmed my heart. We are having a great time – who wouldn’t want to just wrap themselves up in such a once in a lifetime process?

So as I sat down to share all my wonderful wedding news with our readers, I received a cryptic text. “Taking mom to the heart hospital. Just as a precaution going to the South Side Hospital.”

The text was from my husband. While it’s obvious the text is not great news, it was not obvious what was going on. My husband Doug wasn’t with his mom. I knew this as we had just finished a great beach getaway with her, and she was safe and sound back home in Kansas. Furthermore, Doug was in Denver on business so it would be hard for him to be heading to a “South Side Hospital” in Kansas….

Needless to say, I was dialing his cell before I even finished the above thought process. He answered my question - “Your mom?” - with - “No, YOUR mom.” He had forwarded a text from my dad.

Should I have been prepared for this moment? As a consummate planner, I’m feeing a bit lost on this one. I’ve had reminders to get to work on a “parents” plan - a good friend lost her father after a lengthy illness. While I did what I could to help her as she commuted back and forth to Houston for almost two years, she told me often my time would come.

So, as she said, my time had come. All I can think is I’m going to plan the best I can. It’s much easier to plan for a wedding – all the fun and smiles, than for a parent’s decline and, gulp, beyond. It’s a challenge to plan for where life takes you. It’s a bit outside our control. I do feel lucky I am not quite in the sandwich generation. My own children are all out of the house and grown so my focus can be on my parents.

Turning my focus toward what I can do for my parents as they age (they’re thriving in their eighties), I looked online and found some statistics that made me realize I was sharing an all too common experience with my generational cohorts.
  • Right now is the first time in history that American couples are responsible for statistically more parents than children. 
  • Almost 40% of all U.S. workers are more involved with caring for a parent than with caring for a child. 
  • The average woman can expect to spend eighteen years caring for an elderly family member, compared to seventeen years to care for her children. 
Realizing my own family situation is shaping itself to statistical expectation, my time to take action is now. Before my parents' needs become even more dramatic. As it turns out, mom’s trip to the hospital was caused by a reaction to a medication her doctor prescribed. It was not life threatening. It was a wake up call.

So, what is a girl to do when she confronts the reality of her parents aging and progressively needing greater attention? We’re going to start with good old-fashioned conversation. It’s not all about making plans for an impossible to control situation. It’s about trusting that we’ll do all we can for and with our parents in the years to come. It’s about trusting ourselves to be able to handle whatever “text” may next come.

Given my parents are in great shape, we’re thinking fun thoughts in the near future. A cruise to Alaska is something we’ve talked about. Maybe when we put my daughter Brittany on the plane for her (well planned) honeymoon, my husband and I can take mom and dad on a trip to celebrate.

Granny-moon? I’m thinking that’s a good plan.

Until April!


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