Friday, February 8, 2013

Minor Expectations

I have been endlessly frustrated with my parents lately.

There is part of me that has insight into myself and my family dynamic, and so, I know exactly what is going on.  First, for all our closeness, my family members are NOT good communicators.  We are bottle-it-up-ers (except for me, and that is with some detox help from Vor).

Second, I'm frustrated that my parents just aren't HERE for me now that I have kids the way they were for my siblings.  With my sister, they lived in the next town over.  Although my brother was stationed at various places in the states, my parents traveled frequently to see them, and would spend extended periods of time with them. Me?  Not so much.  I get that I live far away, and that they're older, and that they live part time in Florida now, but it just smarts that they're just not as involved.

Third, and related, they're older.  I am the "oh-shit-didn't-think-that-could-still-happen" baby, meaning that my closest sibling is sixteen years older than me.  So, my parents are older than most other parents of people my age.   This results in more forgetfulness, less activity, no filter, and a certain amount of (how do I say this without sounding like a jerk) more self-centeredness.

For example: I call my mom today, really down because I'm worried we will be admitting Lis to the hospital later (days of puking, now refusing water and food, etc).  I get the obligatory verbal pat on the head, and then she shifts into her exercise routine and how swimming is better for hip than biking is, and how she thinks the problem is in her spine, etc.

For example: I am having a crappy week, and when I am not endlessly cheerful and grateful and sunny, my parents gang up on in me a Facetime call, and tell me that if I am a "grumpy, negative" person, then I will turn my daughter into a "grumpy, negative" person.  No filter.

For example: My mom calls, when I am trying to work at home with a puking baby, demanding a recipe.  I tell her Lis is starting to throw up again; she takes the opportunity to say, "Wait! Was that a half a cup of cheese, or a quarter cup of cheese?"  I hang up the phone.  My dad is mad that I am mad that they called me with such a stupid thing when they KNOW I am way behind on work and I am at home with a puking baby.  He makes sure to tell me so.

These snippets make my parents sound like jerks.  They're not.  They will Facetime and Skype endlessly with Lis, and when I was a brand new mom and Vor had to go out of town,  they were on a plane to help me out before I even asked the question.  They shower her with love, and they worry endlessly about me.

It's just that I was expecting the parents that my siblings had when they became parents; I was expecting the same grandparents that my nieces and nephews had when they were this age; I was expecting my parents to still be the parents I had always known.

I was expecting them to never change, and to never age, and I was expecting the same of myself.

I also know that part of my frustration is sheer terror.  I can't imagine a world without my parents in it.  I get angry, really angry, when I think about how little time Lis will have with them compared to her cousins.  I resent being a late in life child.  I'm pissed they won't consider ditching their New York residence and keeping an apartment here, so they can get to know what is likely their last granddaughter better.

Then there's the other terror, the kind I talk about with Vor, and no one else: I know (I KNOW) that when the time comes, I am the one who will bear the responsibility of caring for my aging and ailing parent(s).  If one dies, I will have to drag the other one here.  I am the executor of the estate, so there's that complication some day.  For all my frustration, I am closer to my parents than my siblings are, and I am certainly kinder to them.

There's the last terror, the one I don't even talk to Vor about.  I am afraid my mother is losing her mind. Her forgetfulness is really increasing, and she is starting to have trouble forming new memories.  Complicated information doesn't stick at all.  Conversations are starting to repeat.  She is an animal handler at a zoo, and today, she couldn't remember the name or the type of animal she was handling.

It's just so hard when you had these expectations, and things turn out so differently.  It's just so hard knowing what will come.  Inevitability.  It's a bitch.

1 comment:

CP said...

I'm so sorry. I never thought about what it would be like to be a "late-in-life" child. My youngest brother is 13 years younger than me but I never gave his perspective much thought.

I'm sorry you feel like you're not getting the grandparents for Lis that you expected. That must be really hard. But, at least, she won't have an earlier version of them to compare the situation to and I'm sure she will have no idea.

Still, I'm really sorry and I hope you get the support you need!