Even though I am 28 (almost 29) and pretty much an adult, I certainly don’t always feel like one. The lifestyle my husband and I lead is pretty carefree and we like that. I know full well that soon, we will take on the role of parents and will forever have to take care of our children. But what happens when the child is responsible for taking care of the parent? How are you, as the child supposed to know how to handle that?
Introduction to Adulthood
My mom and dad have always been there for me. Sometimes I think I lean on them more now than I did when I was young. Same goes for my husband. His parents are good people who do anything they can to take care of him. Now that we are married our parents work hard to do what they can for the both of us. But it seems we have both reached a point in our lives where we are forced to switch roles. We are now left to be the rock that holds our families together.
Family Health Problems
A couple of weeks ago we received news that my father in law was in need of a valve replacement. This requires open heart surgery. When you tell people this the first thing most people say is “a surgery such as this is routine nowadays. Everything will be fine”. And I know in my head this is true, but my brain then goes a step further to know the fact that any surgery can be dangerous. Well yesterday the surgery occurred. My husband and I signed on to be the family drivers. We drove both of my in-laws and my brother in law into Manhattan at 4:30 am. We knew ahead of time it would be a long day but we had no idea. (as a side note and a story for another time, my mother survived a brain aneurysm 3 years ago and I spend every day for 3 weeks in the ICU with her. I was prepared for some flashbacks and knew a bit of what to expect from major surgery)
Throughout the day I felt it was my job to keep conversation light in order to keep my mother in laws mind from focusing on what was going on (although I am sure I failed, since how could one not think too much). My husband is a rock, and I knew that my efforts would be wasted on him. I tell him he’s an emotional wasteland, but I know in this situation his heart is hurting for his dad.
After over 7 hours we received news that he made it through the surgery. It was wonderful news and we all were relieved. Recovery is a long road in any surgery, especially ones such as this. My heart aches because it is hard to see loved ones in so much pain. Now in the coming weeks my husband and I will have to play the caregiver role and not only help his father, but his mother who will both need emotional support. I am sure a lot of that task will be left to me since women are much better at taking care of emotional needs then men are. I am prepared for the task (I think).
I am left to wonder, is this supposed to happen? I know there is a lot of sad things that people go through in their lives, at all ages, but I have to be honest, I never believed that I would be faced with such things in my late 20’s. I know that’s naive. I am aware that anything can happen to anyone at any time. I guess I just wished that it wouldn’t happen to me. Parents are supposed to be invincible aren’t they? Well, over the past couple of years I have learned firsthand that they are not. Now it is time for me to step up and repay them for the years they took care of me. Sometimes I believe the “tough love” approach will be necessary, but I am ready to do anything to make sure they are there to see their grandchildren grow up. It is time for me to be the grown up.