Wednesday, January 21, 2009

"It's Like Having a Child"

This is what people sometimes say to me, and yes in a way it's true - but in another way it's not.

Yes it's like having a child - of course it is - the messy eating, all the places you cannot go to because the behaviour doesn't fit, the mental return to childhood behaviour patterns, the attention-seeking - all this is akin to what parents of youngsters have to deal with.

But there IS one huge, fundamental difference, that makes all the difference. With a child, the carer has youth and strength on their side, as they nurture a young life of hope and promise that looks forward to a future of learning, applying, and being taught to understand. You can plant a seed and watch it grow.

With Shakespeare's second childhood there is none of this - the carer, now in middle age, is becoming increasingly aware of their own mortality, and there is no growth, no learning, no improvement to look forward to.

Instead of the exciting promise of helping a new young life on its way to discovery, the caregiver walks in the valley of the shadow of death - and I have been in there long enough to know what an effect that can have on one's thinking, emotions, and optimism, regardless of one's beliefs and faith.

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Gail Rae said...

I thank you, personally, for talking about this. I've had a continual argument going for some years with people who believe caring for an Ancient One is nothing more than parenthood in reverse. Some caregivers even think this...only the gods know what mental perambulations they go through to convince themselves of this.
More people on the front lines need to speak out about this.
Thank you, again.

junglequeen said...

The differences are enormous, and I only just scratched the surface. Another huge difference is that parents of children normally (one would expect) get love from their kids, and love heals all things. The two occasions in the last few weeks of her life when my mom said "I love you" were remarkable because they were so unusual. Bless her.