While writing Raising the Well-Adjusted Child: A Parent’s Manual, I felt that it was important to include a section called “Parenting Is A Lifetime Commitment.” I don’t want people to take this negatively. In fact, it is a reality that I would never change. Once you have children, you are a parent for life. There is no age at which your children are no longer your responsibility. There will be times when your kiddos become more independent and need less time from you, but they still want love, positivity, and attention from their parents. Your parenting responsibilities may be fewer but they still occur. Sometimes even with a higher cost. As a child, no matter what age you are, having the support of your parents is very important. Having a parent who is an active and positive force in one’s life is essential to healthy development. I know there are some parents that are not positive forces in their kids’ lives, but that is generally the exception rather than the rule. If the majority of parents make a lifetime commitment to their children, imagine how much stronger and well-adjusted our kids would be.
As I sit next to my adult daughter today while she is hospitalized for testing, I am reminded of my commitment to her as a parent. When children are young, there is nothing more important to them than their parents’ love and attention. During her hospital stay, my daughter requested that her father and I stay with her. Even as an adult, the presence of our parents brings us comfort. Honestly, it brings the parents comfort too.
My husband and I created a plan on how best to support our daughter while also supporting one another through this trying time. Due to COVID protocols, only one parent could stay with her at a time. Therefore, how he and I supported one another influenced our ability to support her. My husband took the nights in which our daughter was deprived of sleep because he knows I cannot function at all on little sleep. I stayed the evenings he had golf. A good night’s rest (for me) and a relaxing game of golf (for my husband) allowed us to fill our cups and be able to provide that support for our daughter.
As her mom, I know I can’t control the test outcomes or fix the medical condition that has plagued her for over 10 years. However, I can love her, hug her, and comfort her. We played endless games of Garbage and War and made up card tricks. We binged-watched Ink Master and Cardinals baseball games. We giggled about the cute tech that hooked her up to wires. These are memories I will cherish and would not want anyone else to have with her. My husband and I are feeling blessed that we were the ones to bring her the comfort she needed during this time.
My mother and my husband’s mother both felt helpless as they watched my husband and I go through this difficult time. They too wanted to provide love and comfort to their children -- us. They wanted to support us, but it was hard to give them our time and attention because our focus and energy was solely on our daughter. Because a mother’s love never ends, they worried about us (and their granddaughter), as we worried about our daughter. When love runs deep, it is a long litany of compassion.
We have lived with this health condition for 10 years, and I have always said that it is our job to pick her up, dust her off, and put her back out into the world.
“We are right here when you need us, but, in the meantime, go and live your life.”
What I have learned: The most difficult times in life sometimes create the greatest bonds.