Raising your parents

If you are anywhere near my age bracket (we’ll just call it middle age) you likely have experienced or will soon begin to experience a reversal in the relationship with your parents. I often said during the 8.5 years that my husband’s mother lived with us that we were “raising a mother-in-law.” We never had children of our own so this was really a first for us in the parenting department. Sure, we have raised dogs, but providing a proper upbringing for your parents is an entirely different thing altogether.

When my husband’s mother moved out a couple of years ago I was ecstatic. I imagined myself to be like many moms who have fresh cans of paint ready and waiting to makeover their kids’ rooms when they finally go off to college.

My husband and I have been empty nesters for two years now and I had almost forgotten what it was like to rear your parents in the way that they should go, that is until a wedding this past weekend that brought many family members together. Everything was going reasonably well until most of us parted ways. My husband was really worried about his dad and step-mom, both of whom are well into their 80s, when they set out for the four hour drive home. The conversation went something like this:

My husband: It is 4 p.m., dad. Do you really think you should be setting out this late in the day?

Dad: We’ll be fine.

Me: Perhaps you two should change out of your tux and evening gown before you leave.

Dad: We’ll be fine.

My husband: Do you have our cell number?

Dad: We’ll be fine.

Later that evening…

My husband: I’m really worried about them; I better call.

Dad: I’m not sure how it happened but we ran out of gas on the way home.

What my husband wanted to say: But didn’t I tell you to always have at least a half tank of gas in the car? YOU ARE GROUNDED!

Photo by Neil. Moralee, 2012, Flickr Creative Commons

I have many stories I can share about those “teen” and “prepubescent” years with the parents we have been raising, but it may be some time before I can share those…you know with the whole protecting the names of the innocent thing.

I hope this post does not seem disrespectful in any way. But what I learned most from raising a mother-in-law those 8.5 years is that without a sense of humor you cannot survive parenthood, especially when you are parenting your parents!

Until next time, live like you mean it!

Karen

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