Do you remember holding your child in your arms for the very first time? Do you remember the feelings that overwhelmed you in that moment? The strong sense that you would do whatever you could to help this child to grow, develop, bloom and be successful in life. You did not just become a parent in that moment; you became a teacher, motivator, disciplinarian, mentor, playmate, maid, and everything else that they would need during their lives. You have committed yourself to be there for you child in whatever possible. Of course, one of the goals is to raise our children to be independent and successful even without our being there to pick them up with each fall. But how many times do we stand there and cringe and even start to reach out to steady your child when you see a pending obstacle, yet you pull back to help them encounter the obstacle in their own way. No matter what your child’s age may be, do you ever stop wanting to help? Do you find yourself not wanting to put your hand in front of them as you step on the brake suddenly while driving down the street? The need to be there to protect and help our children is inherent from the day of their birth to the day of their death, or sadly their child’s death as occurs in some cases. Not trying to be morbid, but over the past few days I have become very aware of this position.
One of my greatest blessings comes in the forms of my mom and dad! Curt and Brenda Ballard are some amazing folks! And yes, they drive me absolutely crazy at times. And to be fair I return the favor. Being an only child is not something I do not take lightly and thus our lives are very intertwined. Clearly there are days where I want to cut the vines that bind us together and again I know they have felt the same way at times. It would be easy to be resentful of the fact that my being an only child is probably an unfair burden for me and for them as well. Not having a sibling means that my closest allies in life are my parents. For them they don’t have favorites so they are stuck with me as their only option.
This past week I have come to realize that while I am very concerned about my parents and their aging process that they too are concerned about my own aging process. I just turned 48 and am divorced with five amazing and challenging children. In addition, dealing with my medical and physical realities and unable to work while now facing a new chapter of medical drama that none of us are looking forward to. One of the things my parents did well, was to raise a very independent man! They never treated me different due to my physical and medical challenges and always encouraged me to do my best with what I had to work with in any given situation. Ok so maybe I was a little spoiled and to a degree still am, part of the only child syndrome! Yet there are some who are quick to point out that I may have taken my independence a little too far at times by tending to choose to travel the roads less traveled. Others might say that I am fooling myself and have become an entitled tyrant who does not like not getting his way. But who does not like getting their own way?
As my parents were here these past few days to help me with Spring Break and the kiddos as we awaited the verdict of my current medical drama to unfold, we clearly encountered our share of power struggles. They wanted to help me because I was feeling so bad, and yet my strong independent streak roared its ugly head. Yes, I can be a butthead sometimes and they know it and still love me. Yet they are aware that they are stuck in their ways and a bit stubborn themselves and I still love them. This unique combination is a special treat (noted sarcastically) for us when we are all together and stressed!
A challenge I faced was dealing with physical chronic pain and general blek feeling and wanting to do nothing, but also wanting to do what I could. I was not good at communicating what I wanted to do. There were moments when mom or dad was jerking their figurative hand out in front of me to prevent a potential obstacle disaster. Sometimes I was appreciative, other times not so much. For those times, I apologize, and I truly understand the unique position they find themselves in. I am so appreciative and blessed to have parents who have always supported me in good and bad times. When I made decisions, they didn’t agree with and then didn’t take satisfaction by saying “I told you so!” As there were clearly times they could have and even then, helped me develop a plan to clean up a Brock Mess. They have learned over time when to step back and let me do my thing and I know it has not been easy.
They are most incapable of holding back when I am sick or not well or my health is in jeopardy. There is something that triggers everything in them when it comes to my physical well-being. It probably stems from losing a child thirty seven years ago, and being afraid of going through that again. No I am not dying but when you are dealing with matters of the heart it is hard to not consider all potential outcomes. They were told after my older brother was born that they should not have more kids, but chose to do so anyway. Even when I was born I fought and struggled for 3 months before they could bring me home. They watched me struggle with hearing issues, bone and joint issues, genetic testing and other variables over the years. They feel for me with each added chapter of my medical history. Their internal desire to protect me is overwhelming and never goes away. May I continue to be more aware of their desire to protect me and help me along the way.
I totally get it. I have shared many of the travails and obstacles my kids have faced in their lives. While most not of their own doing and some of their own volition and I am always struggling with when do I reach out my hand or redirect them from encountering an obstacle. Every day I find myself trying to solve a problem for one of my kids to make their life a little smoother. Depending on how unwise they are being motivates me as to how much I want to help them (think teenagers). So yes, parents struggle with where the line lies as to when and when not to intervene. Clearly as I have seen in recent days this struggle is lifelong! The joys of parenthood are forever and amen!
All this to say a huge SHOUT OUT to my parents…. truly the best and most amazing parents around! I know they did a little happy dance in the car as they pulled away from my house this morning…. I am glad they didn’t see me behind the closed front door after they left. We obviously have more journeys ahead as we move into the days and years ahead. Let us all be more aware and thankful for our blessings. If you still have your parents please call them, go by and give them a hug or let them know you are blessed by them being in your life!