by Mary Grace Musuneggi
Have you ever noticed that in a family of 5 brothers and 1 sister, that when the time comes to be the Caretaker for Mom and Dad, the most likely choice will be the sister? It really doesn’t matter if she is a single parent with 3 children of her own, has a full-time job, and that she baby-sits her youngest brother’s children on the weekends, when he has to work. And if the sister is by chance single, with no children, then she is the ultimate choice, after all she doesn’t really have anything going on in her life anyway.
How Caretakers are Determined
Now in all fairness to our male counterparts, and because sometimes tradition dictates, the Caregiver can be the eldest sibling, just by nature of the birth order; or the youngest as he or she was the last to leave home and so has a closer relationship with the parents.
Living out of state, or already taking care of your elderly in-laws, usually takes you out of the running. But being the only child means you are it. No matter how, no matter what, no matter where.
Willingness to Care
And yet I am grateful that personally I know of no children who wouldn’t willingly want to care for their parents if the time and need arose. A way of saying “thank you” for all the parents had done for the children. A way of giving back. The hope that when their time comes, that someone will be there to take care of them.
But willing is not always able. And when the time comes, it is one awesome task. There are financial, ethical and sometimes even legal and moral dilemmas that arise. Decisions to be made. Tack on to this, if you are part of the sandwich generation, that you are trying to care for the parents, put the kids through college, plan for your retirement, and somehow pursue what dreams you may have for your own life.
During the months of May and June, we are reminded of our multiple roles as women. With Mother’s Day and Father’s Day and Graduation Day, we see ourselves as Mothers, and Daughters, and Granddaughters, and Aunts, and Sisters, and Wives, and Significant Others. How amazing we are to be so much to so many!