My parents have 10 children and 12 grandchildren (so far). Over the past forty years, as their family has grown, they've tirelessly cared for each of us, attending to all 10 of our different personalities, needs, wants, desires, and expectations; and as their grandchildren have been born, they've kept helping and loving them as much as they could from far away.
Despite how hard my parents worked, they made vacations a big part of our family culture. I've mentioned a few times about our annual trips to the US for our family vacation. But what these trips meant for my parents was slightly different than what it meant for my siblings and I.
Whenever we traveled it was a thrilling adventure and restful break for us, but my parents still had to be parents. Since they trooped around with many little children they instituted a partner system to help them with governance (where an older sibling was paired with a younger sibling to watch over them on outings); but it was mostly work for them mixed in with some play. The trips also offered a respite from additional functions like my parents' involvement in several Christian ministry groups in Jamaica which were separate from my father's demanding job. On our trips, they were almost always exclusively concerned about the needs of their immediate family.
Since we discontinued yearly vacations it's been difficult for my parents to get that short sabbatical. Yet they’ve continued to work and take care of us and everyone else - they have big hearts for serving and I've never seen them turn away a person in need. But now that they're older they've had to slow down a lot. They've also had to learn how to allow their children to take care of them.
It must be shocking to watch your children grow up. Where once they were completely dependent on you for everything, now they don't need you to help them put on clothes, cook their food, or check their necks and backs for caked-up dirt because they haven't been bathing properly (or at all). It must be difficult feeling yourself get older, and finding that if you tried to do all the things you used to, it would take a serious toll on your health. It's hard for me to watch them get older, so I can only assume that watching us get older is also somewhat disconcerting.
But it's very important to take care of your older loved ones - especially the ones who slaved over you while you were growing up, the ones who sacrificed their comfort for your own, the ones who loved you as well as they could even when it was hard.
One of my sisters decided to treat my parents to a weekend at a resort in Runaway Bay, Jamaica, and I got to be the designated driver to take them to the resort. I almost laughed when my mother tried to give me instructions on what to cook for meals for her practically geriatric children (I joke! But we're all fully capable adults). I had to remind her that she didn't need to worry that we'd starve while she was away.
But it was wonderful to see my parents’ barely concealed excitement at the opportunity to be away from their high maintenance house and adult children. I listened to them gab the entire drive out, practically bouncing off the seats at their upcoming treat. It warmed my heart when my mother called me to tell all about their room and the food and their dinner reservation.
So let me tell you, remember to treat your parents. Take care of them well, and remind them that it's ok for them to let you take care of them for a change.