Category: Rants

Be You When Others Matter

I overthink everything, leading to some ridiculously magnified indecisiveness. The overthought thoughts in question can physically manifest themselves in many ways. It can look as simple as carrying a pair of jeans around a department store for an hour before I decide whether or not to purchase them, or as important and multifaceted as when we were deciding where to send the kids to school (and I bugged all my relatives and friends in different school districts for intimate, silly details about those schools). But here’s the thing, it’s not because I don’t know what I want-it’s because I don’t know what everyone else wants. That’s stressful!


Why do I do it? Why do I walk around beating myself up? Why do I stress myself out? Why do I care so much about disappointing people and how does that apply to these stupid jeans I’m carrying around? And the people whose judgement I’m adding into the question… I’m fairly positive they don’t even look at my jeans! Why do we do these things?


For me, a lot of the worrying that stemmed from the fear of disapproval tended to surround bigger life decisions. My parents, my extended family, and even people at church were high on my list of people to impress or at least to do well by; most especially at the top of this list are my father and my grandmothers (even though one of them has been dead for years now). I wanted them to approve of me, and more so, to be proud of me.


You’ll notice my kids and my husband were not on that list. They should’ve been at the top. At the time, they were not. It took years for me to realize this and to understand the small cracks of derision it had caused.
Now, there are other reasons (beside the inane judgements of others) to overthink and come to indecisive conclusions. Continuing with the jeans example, it was a whole inner argument in and of itself as to whether I really needed jeans, or if I could just walk around in the holey, oversized ones for a while longer. There are always so many other things- I have to take some snazzy dish to the church picnic this weekend; the porch could use painted-do I need to spend this money? The more I learned about myself though, the more I realized that these money type decisions.. well, they were just a little root from the bigger problem; why would I buy myself something when I could use that money to improve something more relevant for gaining the approval of others in the long run?


These days, I am trying to keep myself reminded that those people who I had been basing my decisions around: they don’t have to live with the consequences of my choices. I do. I have to do right by myself so that I’m a better mom and wife to the people who really matter most, and, for me, I want to do right by my heavenly Father, and sometimes (most of time) that means not taking into account what other people would say. God has blessed me with this insight into myself, and it has improved my relationship with myself, with my husband, with my children, and even has improved my spiritual peace. My extended family of course matters, but not to the extent it effects my health. I also finally realized, they didn’t want that either. 


Is there someone in your life whose opinion you prize maybe a little too heavily? Is this causing you unneeded stress?

RJ

Please follow and like us:

Importance Of Listening To Senior Parents

 

I work for an ophthalmologist’s office. We take care of all ages; however, the majority of patients we deal with are over the age 60-these are the patient’s who need more then just your typical yearly exam.  It’s sad to me to watch the change in independence many of these people are going through. The patient is realizing that their vision is bad enough that they will need a ride to their appointments. Or that-even though they can get themselves to the appointment-they can’t handle having their eyes dilated as well as when they were younger, and so they’ll need a ride home. Some patients are even at the point that their license has been taken due to their age and/or vision, and they must learn to deal with this loss of independence that comes with age.

I am the first to say that if my parents need help with something, I’ll be right there; no question! My parent’s are not the kind who ask for help; I have to call and beg them to name something I can help them with. Some aging parents are quite the opposite. I call them “cling-ons.” These “cling-on” parents expect their children to take quite complete care of them, because they themselves took complete care of the kids while they were growing up. They expect so much from their kids that it can be a toxic relationship, wherein the children experience caregiver strain-an actual diagnosis of stresses related to caring for others-whether that care is needed or just expected. Those parents can be over the top. They expect too much. Or, perhaps, they grew up with a “clan” mentality. One for all and all for one. Some family’s go on for generations this way, and it works beautifully. The family is close, and there’s always someone there for someone else. Sometimes, the newer generation isn’t picking up on it and suffers the heavy, stressful burden this expected “clan mentality” can be on their independence.

But here’s my pet peeve: an aging parent has real, serious health issues, and the adult child has absolutely no empathy for that parent. All the time I see this happen. The patient has something declining their sight, like glaucoma, macular degeneration, cataracts, etc. These patients have semi-frequent appointments and check-ups to stop the degeneration or exacerbations. However, they rely on their children for rides. The adult child calls to cancel the appointment or change it (for the third or fourth time). The appointment that was supposed to be in six months has now been pushed out 12 months or longer.

I understand that people have to work. I have to work, and if my parents ever need anything, I have to try my best to work around work. When adults call to change an appointment for their parents, I get frustrated at their excuses. They make sure to state that they are the Power of Attorney, so you don’t question them. I hear things like, “he’s not having any issues right now,” “he hasn’t said he needs anything,” “he hasn’t even called me, so I’m sure he’s okay,” or even, “Yeah, I’ll be on vacation, so I guess you’ll have to find another appointment time for him,” and they’re fine with the fact that I can’t get him a new appointment for three months or more. Are you serious? Have you called your parent to check on them? Do you just believe them immediately when they say they’re fine? Do  you recognize that they might feel like a burden and hate having to ask you for anything? Do you care about their health at all? How would you know if their glaucoma is exacerbated? They don’t even know without an appointment!

A family friend lived with his aging parents. When his dad had a stroke and was recovering (doing well, actually) I would constantly hear this family friend say things like, “he doesn’t know what’s going on,” or “he’s in his own world.” I was asked to take care of the father while the family friend and his mom went on a cruise. The cruise had been planned prior to the stroke, but now the father wasn’t healthy enough to go. I took care of him and had lengthy conversations with him about many things-including his son. He knew his son didn’t think he could understand what was going on. The father would say to me, “does my son think I’m deaf?” I would just laugh and have empathy with him. I would try to make excuses for the son, such as that perhaps the son didn’t understand strokes or aging or wasn’t coping well with the idea of his parents’ mortality. Unfortunately by the time the son recognized his error in coping mechanisms, it was too late.

What is my point? If you have parents that are still living, please take the time to understand that as they grow older, they are still themselves. They can hear you. They know you better then anyone. If you’re treating them like children, they know it. If you’re avoiding them, they know it. If you put your job first, they know it. If you don’t probe, they may never tell you. Needing help can be so hard for them; losing their independence is awful. Stop and consider these things before being irritated they need a ride to the doctor.
The Bible is often referring to us as children of God. Jesus told us as children of God to become like children in order to enter Heaven (Matthew 18:2-3). It is often discussed, and I myself believe, that Jesus intended us to act like children in understanding, in accepting, in temperament, patience, etc.

If the senior parent thinks you’re not reachable, not approachable, not understanding, if they feel as if they are a burden to you, they aren’t going to call you, even if they do need something, because they know they won’t find empathy or understanding on the other end of the line. That may not be your intention at all, simply an effect of a busy lifestyle-but that’s why it is so important to pay diligent attention to how we treat our loved ones, to every word that we say. I always try to remind myself of this–to ‘renew’ my ears to people. Remind yourself to listen with a new attitude; you don’t have to have anything to say. And maybe, just maybe, when you call the local ophthalmologist, you’ll have something fantastic to say, like, “mom really feels like she should move her appointment closer. She knows I’m going on vacation, but she doesn’t want to move it out, since she’s been having more troubles-and boy did it take me forever to get her to admit that!”

Go out into this week, and please don’t be that adult child that I want to hang up on!

RJ

 

Please follow and like us: