There are so many terms designated to parents who are overprotective of their children. We have been labeled controlling, “helicopter parent”, “mama bear” and a new term I just read about…the “lawnmower parent”. As I have been reading about all these terms I realized that not only do I fall under all these categories as a mother but they also apply to me as my role of a daughter.
My father was diagnosed with cancer this past summer and the role of father/daughter has changed; not in a bad way but I have become that person-the helicopter daughter, the mama bear, the controlling daughter..OK, I will be honest, the controlling piece may have always been there 🙂
My parents are 67 and 70, and are very independent. I have a wonderful support system in my 3 brothers and sisters-in-law. I can honestly say that my parents have never needed to rely on us for much, let alone anything. They work, have a great group of friends and manage their day to day needs on their own.
However, I am not sure what has come over me, but since my father’s diagnosis I have become so protective of him.
My parents are perfectly capable of handling their medical needs on their own specific to my father’s cancer. Between my brothers and I, one of us are always present at medical appointments. For whatever reason I feel the need to shoot off a text, an e-mail or call my parents to make sure they ask a specific question. I know this can be frustrating to them but I can’t stop…if I feel that I cannot relay my message accurately I call one of my brothers and ask them to be the messenger.
If my father is tired, has a cough, runny nose or chills I just want to go over there and care for him-make him tea, get him cozy under his covers and make sure he is eating. When I call him after I hang up I dissect our call; did he sound tired? Did he sound groggy? Is he happy? Is he sad? If he sounds great, my day is set, if he sounds crappy, my day goes to the pits….
When my father walks into a room I try not to analyze how he looks; has he lost weight? Does he look pale? Is he tired? But I cannot stop…
Dad, did you take your pills? Dad when is your appointment? Dad..? Dad? Dad? The questions don’t stop.
As I navigate this new normal on my own, I realize that my father seems to be managing his diagnosis better then me.
When I have one on one time with him I have asked how he is doing, his response is remarkable; “Trish, I have the ability to put stuff like this in the back of my head”. I always giggle because when he says, “stuff” he is referring to his cancer, his response truly amazes me and I only wish I can do the same. If there is one thing I have learnt since his diagnosis is that he is not strong he is the INCREDIBLE HULK!
I have read countless articles from the perspective of the patient and family. I try to listen to all the tips and apply them but sometimes it is hard. I have come up with my own tips to help me through this “new normal”:
- It is better to call my parents then to send an e-mail and/or text as the tone can be misleading and misunderstood
- When I call my father I don’t ask; “How are you? I ask, “What’s been going on?
- When my father isn’t feeling well I look at it as an isolated moment and not a new phase
- When I feel like crap I call my brothers, thankfully we all have our moments at different times so we can be strong for each other
- I try my best to be a support to my mother and offer a shoulder to cry on and an ear to listen.
- Sometimes it is best just to listen as not everyone is looking for an answer or response
- I have learnt that when I am nervous I can come off a little bitchy; in these situations I have to remove myself from the situation
- You can have all the resources you need but you will only access them when you are emotionally ready
So, as I navigate this “new normal” I have come to the conclusion that I there are a lot of worse things I can be…then a “helicopter daughter”.