Role reversal

I couldn’t help overhearing the thirty something woman, on her cell phone, who was sitting next to me at an outdoor cafe.  “Our parents worry about us when we’re children. When we become adults, we worry about our parents,” she astutely told the person at the other end.

“Matt is concerned about you. He knows there’s not much he can do to change the situation, but he wants you to be happy,” she continued.  I assumed the woman was talking to one of her in laws, especially because Matt had been talking to the person first and had handed her the phone and abruptly left the table. While she talked, Matt was pensively  looking into the river that fronted the cafe.

When the conversation ended, the young woman asked if I’d watch her bag a moment and she went to join Matt near the water. Then talked quietly for a couple of minutes, then returned to the table to finish their pastries and coffee.

I thought about the parents at the other end of the call, about how lucky they are to have such a sensible daughter-in-law. Whatever problems they’re experiencing, I hope they find comfort from her and their son.  The young woman was right. We do change roles with our parents at some point. It’s the natural progression of life. The idea makes me a bit melancholy but it also gives me solace.

9 Responses to “Role reversal”

  1. pia says:

    My parents were older for their day–35 and 37 when I was born. They seemed younger than my friends parents and I wouldn’t have traded them for anything.

    Yes when I was in my 40’s I went through what many of my friends are just beginning to go through–but my mother’s attitude was great, she never became demented and that did help

    So much is attitude, luck, genetics and face it money helps. Older parents tended to have more of it–so they could live on their own when they did become old. I would hate to be in my 60’s living with an 80something mother–and I do know people that happens to.

    I was a geriatric social worker. So many parents who had children younger were basically abandoned to the nursing home

    This is one subject that nobody has a right to make a decision for anybody else

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  2. Kate Line Snider says:

    My kids’ concern for my well being consists of reminding ME now and then ( especially when I get too opinionated) that THEY will be the ones to choose my nursing home. Of course, I also have to remind THEM that I alone have the power to leave my fortune to the SPCA.

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    • b says:

      You made me laugh! I will be remembering this!

      b

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      • Geri says:

        made me laugh, too.

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        • Kate Line Snider says:

          Geri, we are going through the role reversal thing with my husband’s parents, although they are able to live independently with a lot of specialized home care. It is still difficult because he has a dementia ( and other health concerns) and she is spry but forgetful. At the moment my 84-year-old mother-in-law is hospitalized, and although her husband has 24 hr. home care, my life is a circus! They are dear people but I feel for those who have resident elderly.

          My parents are long gone. My father avoided the whole care situation by caring for my mother at home, mostly by himself, until she died- ! He was finally retired at that time, having become a teacher in a private high school at the age of 69. At 86, four years after my mother died, he married an ex-student 42 years his junior. They lived happily together for two years until he had a cardiac arrest in their kitchen. He was almost 88. I had seen him swimming laps at the pool two days earlier.

          We should all be so lucky! I do miss him so much. (Yes, my father was a “fox” and when my son was courting his wife, he warned her quite seriously to watch out for his grandfather!!)

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  3. Duchesse says:

    Big Little Wolf, I am one of those older parents-twins at 39. I never felt “less than spry” when at their school or their social activities, and at 63 feel no need for role reversal, though it IS nice that they occasionally treat me to a hot dog.

    We thought of all of this: how old we’ll be when, the financial implications and aging. re “on their own timetables”?: While some couples can simply decide when, others cannot. They must try, wait, hope and rejoice if a longed-for baby happens, regardless of age.

    I am in agreement that nothing can be assumed about how a family will or will not take care of one another.

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  4. BigLittleWolf says:

    I wonder (and worry) about those of us who are having our children older and older. Starting your family at 40 (or more), and your kids not only have the treat of less than spry parental units when they’re in high school, but they’re in college or just beginning their own journeys out of school when we – the parents – could do with a little of the role reversal.

    I’m all for healthy couples having kids on their own timetables, but gone are the days when there is anything that can be assumed about how family will – or won’t – be taking care of each other.

    An important topic. Nice to know that some in the Sandwich Generation are doing their best, whatever that may mean.

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    • b says:

      Well said…my daughter-in-law is caught in a situation with her mother that is horrible. Her mother is in her middle 70’s and talking about moving in with the daughter. There is a husband and small children at home. I feel so bad for her!

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