Recently I found myself reuniting with a group of "soccer moms," friends who spent years of summer evenings and weekends standing (or sitting) side-by-side at the soccer field watching our sons on the playing field. Now, that the boys are three years into college, it's been several years since we've come together to connect and catch up on our lives, lives that were intertwined from the time our boys were about six to about 16.
In the midst of the hugs and "wow it's been so long," and "what have you been up to," conversations began to unravel. Bits and pieces: "Last week we were back at the doctor." "Took him to get his cast off." "The phone calls in the middle of the night are exhausting." "My boss is getting really inpatient with the time I need to take off for doctor's visits."
At first, as I was settling myself into a patio chair and the group already thoroughly engaged with wine and conversation on the deck, I assumed I was hearing twitters of teen talk, sharing the latest status of our kids and their lives. After all, early morning calls, treks to the doctor and PT for sports injuries etc. were mainstays during our "soccer Mom," era. Juggling work and parenting? A mom's life mastery.
But I quickly realized, the conversation twitters and twatters were not about our teens. We were doing elder parent chat. Our lives as moms, which once revolved around cutting up oranges and carting coolers of Gatorade and fold-up chairs, had evolved into lives of women who now fold up wheelchairs and text out the necessary details TO our kids from the sidelines of geriatric care practitioner offices and elderly care communities.
It's interesting in a world where the Twitters twatter around us, some things never change. I find myself a part of a generation of women who were raised to be caregivers. We were taught to care for our children by the parents who cared for us, and we were taught how to care for our parents, by watching them care for theirs. My grandma used to tell me that someday, I would be caring for my mom when she can no longer take care of herself.
On an evening when I gather with a group of friends who for so many years were a circle of friends close to my side on the soccer field, I realize that we are in the midst of reinventing our identities. We're "former Soccer Moms," and current "Senior Daughters." Yes, we may not be packing ice and bandaging sprained ankles, but we are still caring for our soccer sons. Now, our parents have marched onto our life playing field as well.
But there is a big difference: We no longer sit in folding chairs, we push them.
Do you remember the moment when you realized the shift in your identity from caring for our kids, to shifting to our parents? Please post a comment here and be sure to sign up to join the EldercareABC.com community.