God Bless Middle-aged Daughters

As I walk into the skilled nursing center where Mom is rehabilitating, I see other women like myself and think, “God bless middle-aged daughters.”

We’re the sensible, competent women who make it all happen.

On the street, we often go unnoticed, although we’re attractive. We dress well, but in age-appropriate clothes. No six-inch heels or short skirts. We may carry 10 to 20 extra pounds, but we’re fit, trim, and solid enough to carry the weight of the world.

On our lunch hour, after work, or during weekend visits, we go see our failing mothers and fathers. We bring them flowering plants small enough to fit on a bedside table/hard candy/clean sox/good cheer.

We comb their hair and smooth hand cream on their veiny hands and swollen feet. Once they could manage a demanding job or their family’s busy schedule, keep track of birthdays, recipes and grocery lists, but now they can’t remember what you told them five minutes ago, so we answer the same questions again and again. The times they emerge from the twilight, smile and say, “Oh honey, I wish you could always be here,” are heartbreaking treasure.

As we go back to the office, drive home, or head to the airport, we sigh at the slippage and blink back tears at the losses. Then we put on our game face because somebody else needs us. We keep moving—plan the marketing campaign, schedule the meeting, throw in a load of wash, or make a decent dinner.

We are careworn. Our lives are not glamorous (and never were—we didn’t aspire to that). We don’t expect much. We can be made happy with so little—a compliment when we don’t feel sexy or a hug from a kid who often seems oblivious.

Photo credit: Bokal @ Vecteezy.com

Photo credit: Bokal @ Vecteezy.com

Sometimes we need to push back our realities for a little while, so we laugh ourselves silly over a stupid joke when we’re out with our girlfriends or sink into the sofa and pour a second glass of good wine.

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16 thoughts on “God Bless Middle-aged Daughters

  1. This is so true to my experience of being the only family member in the state to look after first both my parents, and now my mother. You figure out ways to transport them despite your busy schedule. You get to know pharmacists and adult medical supply dealers by name. You learn to check their supplies when you’re visiting them. Your schedule gets less busy for your own stuff and more for theirs. You rejoice when you have time to shave your legs or paint your toenails. You think, I’ll catch up on all this when they’re gone, and in the meantime I’ll cherish them.

  2. We’ve had a hellish week here–dad has a blood clot, his skin disease has returned, and he’s calling us with bizarre stories at night. I would not make it without words like these. I am off to have my second glass of wine. Thanks, Ellen.

  3. Oh. Ellen. This breaks my heart on many levels. You captured your experiences with universal appeal. There are so many middle-aged daughters who can relate to this. I’m glad you can laugh. I’m appreciating more and more how laughter assuages the pain in life. May you and your mother have plenty of it…

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