This Is What It’s Like When You Start Parenting Your Parent

This Is What It’s Like When You Start Parenting Your Parent

The roles are reversing; the scale is tipping



When you’re a baby, you depend on your parents for everything. They feed you, they bathe you and they wipe your ass. As you get older, you learn to do these things on your own, but your mother still picks you up from school and your dad still drives you everywhere. Then there comes a time in life when we kids have to start parenting our parents—and it’s us talking to their doctors and keeping an eye on their diets.


This Is What It’s Like When You Start Parenting Your Parent


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When my grandmother was still alive, my mom and titas used to take care of her. That meant making sure there was food on the table that my Mama would (and could) eat. It meant being there to help her out of the car, up the stairs and into her bed. It meant knowing her medical history, keeping an eye on her things and buying a bedside commode for nightly toilet visits. In the end, it also meant reminding Mama who they were and what time of the day it was.


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It was hard work and it took a strain on my mother and her sisters like nothing else. You could see it in how tired they were and how they panicked whenever she had to be left alone. And the patience it took for them to keep their voices low as Mama repeatedly asked a question or stubbornly refused their help—I can barely imagine what it must have been like.


But my parents are getting old now too and I’m being eased into this place where I’m acting parent to my own.




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My mom still books her own doctor’s appointments, but she isn’t at ease unless I’m with her. One of my brothers is in charge of her growing list of meds and the other has made it his goal for us all to eat healthier; my sister’s taken on most of the administrative stuff at home.


My dad is relatively healthy but is a year away from retirement. My siblings and I take turns checking in on him when he isn’t home yet. We vocally reprimand him when he reaches out for his second helping of fried pork or taba ng talangka.


I’m not looking forward to the day my parents don’t resemble my parents anymore.


It’s strange when your parents start to depend on you for the things they used to help you with. Earlier this year, my mom started asking me to listen to what her doctor had to say and to remember his instructions. Sometimes I find myself worrying about my dad having to drive long distances, knowing full-well that it would strain him.


It's unprecedented and sometimes frustrating. There are times I get annoyed and whisper prayers asking for more patience and understanding. When something comes out of the blue, I remind myself that times are changing, that the roles are reversing and that the scale is tipping.


It’s scary, too, realizing just how many decades have gone and knowing there can’t be as many good ones left. I don’t like thinking about it (no child does), but it’s staring at me right in the face. I’m not looking forward to the day when every headache is a cause of concern and every meal has to be carefully planned out.


I’m not looking forward to the day my parents don’t resemble my parents anymore.


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If I’m being honest, sometimes I don’t want to do it. I selfishly don’t like my weekend afternoons being taken from me and I don’t like having to be responsible for someone else in this capacity. But—at the same time—taking care of them in these small ways has come quite naturally.


When it comes down to it, they’re my parents and I love them more than anything. So while it’s scary to be entering this world I once only got a glimpse of, I’m going to go at it with no reserves. And when (or—I’m hopeful—if) it ever gets to that point, I want to give them the same amount of dedication and attention they once gave me.


There are, of course, financial responsibilities to think of as well. No successful business and no salary from a corporation can ever cover what insurance can. Unfortunately, it's precisely this security that my parents have to bid farewell to come my dad's retirement—and I'm not willing to scrimp out on their medicine or checkups or (God forbid) hospital confinement. Thankfully, there are plans out there that allow me to cover them. I mean, Philam Life's Active Joint Critical Protect allows me to insure myself and a loved one, parent included, so at least that's covered.


Now I just need to work on getting a little more patience.



Art Cara Gamo


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