Almost everyone I know is dealing with aging parents. The parents are in different stages of aging, some still independent, some not. Some of us live in close proximity to our parents, some of us don't. We are finding out things about our parents that we did not know. In talking with people about their parents, I am findng that alot of them have had crappy relationships and now don't want to take care of them. How could this be?
We now live in a time where young couples can live together without the bonds of matrimony. I have always encouraged my children to do so. I would find it very difficult to marry without the benefit of knowing how to live day to day with someone When I was a young woman, my Aunt encouraged me to live with my boyfriend before we got married. He might spit toothpaste all over the bathroom sink or wipe his ass on the sheets she said. Thankfully he did neither. She, as well as my parents, came from a time whe you did not live together before marriage. Once you did get married, the kids starting coming.
As I am finding out now, alot of these couples had no business being parents. It was what was expected and you did it. Religion also played a big role in this. Women were not encouraged to go to college, get a job, travel or anything else a young woman might do today. You were supposed to love having children and being a housewife. Many womwn did not, but didn't realize it until kid number three came along. Insead of growing up in a nurturing environment, alot of us grew up in a home filled with tension and unhappy parents. In some cases, we became the parents.
I don't think this is solely a gender issue. Men also became disillusioned by marriage and kids. What happened to that cute girl I married? No one ever told them that once baby came along, they were now number two. Alot of our Dads were not involved with us as kids except for the family vacation. It was the way things were and it was not questioned. Dad was not available. He was busy working a job he hated to provide for a family he may not really want. He drank alot.
We left home as soon as we could. We went to college, traveled and got jobs. We also had the choice of living with someone if we wanted to. Initially, this was frowned upon. I think alot of our parents wished that they had had this opportunity when they were younger. Perhaps they would have made better choices. We also had more of a choice about having children or not. We did marry, have children and hoped that we were nurturing parents. It's a hard job and we have all had those moments when going to the store for a carton of milk and not coming back sounded damn good.
Now as our aging parents need our help, alot of us are reluctant to do so. We never really liked them and now we are expected to take care of them? This is where selective memory kicks in. They have travelled through the moral car wash. They were good, supportive parents. They did the best they could. I'm sure they did and this is where the dilemma is. Can we forgive and forget long enough to get them through the end of life? Can we understand how the choices they had shaped them, thus shaping us? Can we rise above it and do the right thing?
I am fortunate to not be in this situation. I like my parents and would do whatever I needed to do for them. It is not without frustration at times, but so are all relationships. We will be the aging parents at some point, right?