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August 28, 2014 / 2 Elul, 5774
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Chronicles Of Crises In Our Communities

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A Mother’s Heart

 

Dear Rachel,

I’ve been a long time reader of The Jewish Press and appreciate your practical advice, even when it is not always what people are interesting in hearing.

I am 70 years young and B”H in relatively good health. I live on my own since my husband passed away a couple of years ago. Sad to say, my daughter is causing me needless frustration and heartache. It’s not that she isn’t caring or devoted. As busy as she is with her own large family, she is in touch daily and comes by as often as she can.

She is, however, selective about what she will share with me. For instance, if there is a shidduch brewing with one of my grandchildren, she lets me know only when the le’chayim is imminent. This makes me feel like just another member of their extended family who needs to be informed. Of course by then everyone is too busy and taken up with the excitement to bother with the details of how, where and when, and I am left to feel like chopped liver.

Rachel, I crave some warmth and closeness from my only daughter and my grandchildren. Who, after all, is closer to a child than his or her mother? When someone in the family is ill, I either find out by chance when someone lets the cat of the bag in my presence, or when things have improved and it becomes “safe” for me to know.

I understand they are trying to be protective of me and want to avoid worrying me (they have as much as said so), but their way just stresses me out more and makes me feel like an outsider. Being kept in the dark is far more hurtful, as well as demeaning.

I crave for my daughter to take me into her confidence, but she seems yet to grasp that my life experiences have strengthened me, not weakened me… that tough times make one resilient. Ironic, isn’t it, that I should be finding myself lonely and shut out at this stage in my life, when parents finally have the time to enjoy the fruits of their labor (having already raised their children).

Please don’t tell me to be open with my daughter and explain myself to her as I am doing here. I’ve tried that in the past, to no avail. Some people are unable to focus beyond the physical and misinterpret exterior signs of aging, using that as a barometer of one’s mental and emotional capacities.

Maybe through your column you can let adult children know that inevitable facial lines and a krechtz or kvetch here and there do not make parents emotional invalids.

Please convey to my daughter and other adult children with her mindset that they have no better or more devoted friend than their mother, and that they do a great disservice (to themselves as well) by keeping us at arm’s length at a “safe” distance.

Thank you for your service to our communities.

Young at heart and sound-minded

 

Dear Young,

I can just imagine how many readers in their fifties, sixties and onward feel for you and with you.

Grown children can get so carried away with their own immediate family responsibilities and myriad obligations as to become blinded to and oblivious of their aging parents’ needs.

In their defense, and as you have implied in regard to your own, they tend to believe that by not divulging personal details and goings-on, they are actually shielding their parents from harm.

Nothing can be further from the truth. As I’ve emphasized to my own: Believe me, I can handle it, truly I can. You’d be surprised at how much we can withstand, at how strong life has made us. Don’t let some exterior aging signs fool you. (They’ll creep up on you too before you know it.) Beyond them lie the hardy heartstrings made tough as nails over the years by being consistently tested, prodded and pulled on.

About the Author: We encourage women and men of all ages to send in their personal stories via email to rachel@jewishpress.com or by mail to Rachel/Chronicles, c/o The Jewish Press, 4915 16th Ave., Brooklyn, N.Y. 11204. If you wish to make a contribution and help agunot, your tax-deductible donation should be sent to The Jewish Press Foundation. Please make sure to specify that it is to help agunot, as the foundation supports many worthwhile causes.


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