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Wednesday, January 19, 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 son'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 faintl 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.

An email received from a friend.

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