Tuesday, June 7, 2011

How long do you worry about your kids???

Is there an imaginary cutoff period when
offspring become accountable
for their own actions?

Is there some wonderful moment when
parents can become
detached spectators in
the lives of their children and shrug,
'It's Their life,' and feel nothing?


When I was in my twenties,
I stood in a hospital corridor
waiting for doctors to put a few stitches
in my daughter's head and I asked,
'When do you stop worrying?'
The nurse said,
'When they get out of the accident stage..'
My Parents just smiled faintly
and said nothing.


When I was in my thirties,
I sat on a little chair in a classroom
and heard how one of my children
talked incessantly, disrupted the class,
and was headed for a career making license plates.
As if to read my mind, a teacher said,
'Don't worry, they all go through this stage
and then you can sit back,
relax and enjoy them.'
My Parents just smiled
faintly
and said nothing.


When I was in my forties,
I spent a lifetime waiting
for the phone to ring,
the cars to come home,
the front door to open.
A friend said,
'They're trying to find themselves.
'Don't worry!
In a few years, they'll be adults.
'They'll be off on their own
they'll be out of
your hair'
My Parents just smiled faintly
And said nothing.



By the time I was 50,
I was sick & tired of being vulnerable.
I was still worrying over my children,
but there was a new wrinkle..
Even though they were on their own
I continued to anguish over their failures,
be tormented by their frustrations and
absorbed in their disappointments..
and there was nothing I could do about it.
My Parents just smiled faintly
and said nothing.



My friends said that
when my kids got married
I could stop worrying
and lead my own life.
I wanted to believe that,
but I was haunted by my parent's warm smiles
and their occasional,
'You look pale. Are you all right' ?
'Call me the minute you get home'.
Are you depressed about something?'


My friends said that
when I became a grandparent
that I would get to enjoy
the happy little voices yelling
Grandma! Papa!
But now I find that I worry
just as much about the little kids
as the big ones.
How can anyone cope
with all this
Worry?



Can it be that parents are sentenced
to a lifetime of worry?
Is concern for one another
handed down like a torch
to blaze the trail of human frailties
and the fears of the unknown?
Is concern a curse or is it
a virtue that elevates us
to the highest form of earthly creation?


Recently, one of my own children
became quite irritable,
saying to me,
'Where were you?
I've been calling for 3 days,
and no one answered
I was worried.'
I smiled a warm smile.
The torch has been passed.