Menu

Mama + daughter: The love and responsibility of caregiving for kids and parents

My parents—who’ve never needed anyone and have always taken care of everyone—suddenly need me.

Mama + daughter: The love and responsibility of caregiving for kids and parents

I can think back to many a conversation I have had with my mom while thousands of miles apart—me begging her to come visit Los Angeles again and her telling me that she had to be in Toronto for an appointment her mother had or not wanting to leave her mom for that long. I could sense the pull of responsibility she felt being sandwiched between her own mother, my brothers and I and her growing brood of grandbabies—all of us needing her so much.


I am so fortunate to live in a family that has four generations still kicking.

Both of my grandmothers are in their 90s, my mom is a very young 66, and she now has 10 grandkids of her own.

FEATURED VIDEO

I have always seen my parents as these hip, young grandparents. They became grandparents 10 years before I had my own kids and I have seen them travel to each of our very spread-out families, never missing a birthday or big event. When my parents come to L.A., we lose my dad to his daily, four-hour hikes in Will Rogers Park or to cycling along the expansive boardwalk that curls around the Pacific Ocean.

My mom keeps up with me at my Pilates and yoga classes and is hands-on with both my boys, kicking a soccer ball, walking with our puppy around Venice and lifting their adorable 30-plus-pound bodies into cars, baths and cribs.

My dad is sports guy. “Poppy” doesn’t do anything less than 100 percent—he’s often seen running the hiking trails instead of simply, you know, hiking them.

I got comfortable in this, I thought this would last forever. But nothing ever does, right? Change, as we all know, is part of life.

Cut to that awkward conversation with my mom last fall, when I could sense the trepidation in her voice—the kind in which you know someone so well that you don’t even have to ask, you just know something is very wrong.

After much convincing and prodding, my mom explained that my dad had been experiencing “heartburn” and his trainer at his cross-fit gym had said given his age (69) he wanted him to just have it checked out before he continued training him.

Well, his “heartburn” turned out to be his actual heart. My dad had three clogged arteries—and not just sort of clogged, they were 100-percent blocked and he was a ticking time bomb. My own heart starting beating fast and tears sprung to my eyes. I suddenly felt my father’s vulnerability and my own. This invincible superhero figure was now suddenly not so invincible, and 69 sounded a lot older than it did minutes before.

It turned out my father needed to have open-heart surgery and no matter what I had going on, I decided I was going to be there for it.

I had to be there for my dad—the guy who doesn’t go to hospitals or doctors. The thought of him spending so much time in hospitals, getting tests done and then being there for the long six-hour surgery and five-day recovery was almost impossible to imagine. It was heartbreaking.

I was suddenly propelled into the role my mom has been in for years, sandwiched between the love and responsibility for two different generations—my two boys, who both need me so much, and my parents, who have been there for me countless times and who, for the first time ever, needed ME.

The days leading up to my trip, I was filled with a level of anxiety I’ve never known before. I had so many conflicting feelings swimming around in my head. I was guilty and nervous to leave my boys. I felt bad leaving work and responsibilities here in L.A. to which I had committed. I felt complete helplessness and fear about my dad going in for this surgery, and mostly, I felt pity. And that’s the worst part.

I felt bad for my dad and mom for going through this, and then I felt bad for feeling bad because my dad is not the kind of guy who would want anyone pitying him. Ever.

The four days there were not easy. It took every ounce of strength I possessed to stay strong and focused for my parents like they have done countless times for me. When the surgeon came out to update us on my dad mid-surgery, I put my small hand on top of my mom’s smaller hand. When the nurse told us we could go see my dad in the ICU post-surgery before he was awake, I looked my mom in the eyes, gave her a reassuring nod and told her, “He’s got this,” and walked ahead of her confidently into the ICU.

When it was time to take my dad’s tubes out, my mom left the room and my dad quietly asked for my hand. I held it and told him to look at me, and I told him funny stories that we retell over and over again in our family, ones that are sure to draw a laugh.

At night when visiting hours were over, I made my mom come with me in the freezing, snowy darkness to the local pub to have a glass of wine and some food so we’d be ready to face the next day all over again.

I tried to be everything—the comforter, the pillar and the comic relief.

I knew I’d done my job when on my last night there, my dad was starting to feel more like himself and he was sitting up and laughing at my jokes through his pain. He stared at me and simply said, “Thank you.” I looked back at him, maybe for a little too long, and said, “Of course.”

My parents—who’ve never needed anyone and have been taking care of their parents, their kids and grandkids, who have shouldered the needs of everyone in this family—suddenly needed us.

I haven’t quite wrapped my head around it all. It’s like Superman asking you to help him get his suit on. I feel a little lost as I try to settle into this new reality.

I know pretty soon my dad will be back here in L.A. We’ll lose him again to his lengthy Will Rogers hikes and long bike rides along the Pacific. My mom will resume her bathing, playing and bedtime-reading Bubby duties.

But a new chapter has begun.

I’ve heard it before and know it by heart, I’ve heard my mom read it time and time again. I’ve memorized it. And I’m ready.


This article was originally published on SamSoMuch.com.


Join Motherly

14 outdoor toys your kids will want to play with beyond summer

They transition seamlessly for indoor play.

With Labor day weekend in the rearview and back-to-school in full swing, most parents are fresh out of boxes to check on their "Fun Concierge" hit list. It's also the point of diminishing returns on investing in summer-only toys. So with that in mind, we've rounded up some of our favorite toys that are not only built to last but will easily make the transition from outdoor to indoor play. Even better, they're Montessori-friendly and largely open-ended so your kids can get a ton of use out of them.

From sunny backyard afternoons to rainy mornings stuck inside, these toys are sure to keep little ones engaged and entertained.

Meadow ring toss game

Plan Toys meadow ring toss game

Besides offering a fantastic opportunity to hone focus, coordination, determination and taking turns, lawn games are just plain fun. Set them up close together for the littles and spread them out when Mom and Dad get in on the action. With their low profile and rope rings, they're great for indoors as well.

$30

Balance board

Plan Toys balance board

Balance boards are a fabulous way to get the wiggles out. This one comes with a rope attachment, making it suitable for even the youngest wigglers. From practicing their balance and building core strength to working on skills that translate to skateboarding and snowboarding, it's a year-round physical activity that's easy to bring inside and use between Zoom classes, too!

$75

Detective set

Plan Toys detective setDetective Set

This set has everything your little detective needs to solve whatever mystery they might encounter: an eye glasses, walkie-talkie, camera, a red lens, a periscope and a bag. Neighborhood watch? Watch out.

$40

Wooden doll stroller

Janod wooden doll strollerWooden Doll Stroller

Take their charges on a stroll around the block with this classic doll stroller. With the same versatility they're used to in their own ride, this heirloom quality carriage allows their doll or stuffy to face them or face the world.

$120

Sand play set

Plan Toys sand set

Whether you're hitting the beach or the backyard sandbox, this adorable wooden sand set is ready for action. Each scoop has an embossed pattern that's perfect for sand stamping. They're also totally suitable for water play in the wild or the bathtub.

$30

Water play set

Plan Toys water play set

Filled with sand or water, this tabletop sized activity set keeps little ones busy, quiet and happy. (A mama's ideal trifecta 😉). It's big enough to satisfy their play needs but not so big it's going to flood your floors if you bring the fun inside on a rainy day.

$100

Mini golf set

Plan Toys mini golf set

Fore! This mini golf set is lawn and living room ready. Set up a backyard competition or incorporate into homeschooling brain breaks that shift focus and build concentration.

$40

Vintage scooter balance bike

Janod retro scooter balance bike

Pedals are so 2010. Balance bikes are the way to go for learning to ride a bike while skipping the training wheels stage altogether. This impossibly cool retro scooter-style is built to cruise the neighborhood or open indoor space as they're learning.

$121

Wooden rocking pegasus

plan toys wooden rocking pegasus

Your little will be ready to take flight on this fun pegasus. It gently rocks back and forth, but doesn't skimp on safety—its winged saddle, footrests and backrest ensure kids won't fall off whether they're rocking inside or outside.

$100

Croquet set

Plan Toys croquet set

The cutest croquet set we've ever seen! With adorable animal face wooden balls and a canvas bag for easy clean up, it's also crafted to stick around awhile. Round after round, it's great for teaching kiddos math and problem-solving skills as well.

$45

Wooden digital camera

fathers factory wooden digital camera

Kids get the chance to assemble the camera on their own then can adventure anywhere to capture the best moments. With two detachable magnetic lenses, four built-in filters and video recorder, your little photographer can tap into their creativity from summertime to the holidays.

$179

Wooden bulldozer toy

plan toys wooden bulldozer toy

Whether they're digging up sand in the backyad or picking up toys inside, kids can get as creative as they want picking up and moving things around. Even better? Its wooden structure means it's not an eye sore to look at wherever your digger drops it.

$100

Pull-along hippo

janod toys pull along hippo toy

There's just something so fun about a classic pull-along toy and we love that they seamlessly transition between indoor and outdoor play. Crafted from solid cherry and beechwood, it's tough enough to endure outdoor spaces your toddler takes it on.

$33

Baby forest fox ride-on

janod toys baby fox ride on

Toddlers will love zooming around on this fox ride-on, and it's a great transition toy into traditional balance bikes. If you take it for a driveway adventure, simply use a damp cloth to wipe down the wheels before bringing back inside.

$88

We independently select and share the products we love—and may receive a commission if you choose to buy. You've got this.

Shop

Motherly editors’ 7 favorite hacks for organizing their diaper bags

Make frantically fishing around for a diaper a thing of the past!

As any parent knows, the term "diaper bag" only scratches the surface. In reality, this catchall holds so much more: a change of clothes, bottles, snacks, wipes and probably about a dozen more essential items.

Which makes finding the exact item you need, when you need it (read: A diaper when you're in public with a blowout on your hands) kind of tricky.

That's why organization is the name of the game when it comes to outings with your littles. We pooled the Motherly team of editors to learn some favorite hacks for organizing diaper bags. Here are our top tips.

1. Divide and conquer with small bags

Here's a tip we heard more than a few times: Use smaller storage bags to organize your stuff. Not only is this helpful for keeping related items together, but it can also help keep things from floating around in the expanse of the larger diaper bag. These bags don't have to be anything particularly fancy: an unused toiletry bag, pencil case or even plastic baggies will work.

2. Have an emergency changing kit

When you're dealing with a diaper blowout situation, it's not the time to go searching for a pack of wipes. Instead, assemble an emergency changing kit ahead of time by bundling a change of baby clothes, a fresh diaper, plenty of wipes and hand sanitizer in a bag you can quickly grab. We're partial to pop-top wipes that don't dry out or get dirty inside the diaper bag.

3. Simplify bottle prep

Organization isn't just being able to find what you need, but also having what you need. For formula-feeding on the go, keep an extra bottle with the formula you need measured out along with water to mix it up. You never know when your outing will take longer than expected—especially with a baby in the mix!

4. Get resealable snacks

When getting out with toddlers and older kids, snacks are the key to success. Still, it isn't fun to constantly dig crumbs out of the bottom of your diaper bag. Our editors love pouches with resealable caps and snacks that come in their own sealable containers. Travel-sized snacks like freeze-dried fruit crisps or meal-ready pouches can get an unfair reputation for being more expensive, but that isn't the case with the budget-friendly Comforts line.

5. Keep a carabiner on your keychain

You'll think a lot about what your child needs for an outing, but you can't forget this must-have: your keys. Add a carabiner to your keychain so you can hook them onto a loop inside your diaper bag. Trust us when we say it's a much better option than dumping out the bag's contents on your front step to find your house key!

6. Bundle your essentials

If your diaper bag doubles as your purse (and we bet it does) you're going to want easy access to your essentials, too. Dedicate a smaller storage bag of your diaper bag to items like your phone, wallet and lip balm. Then, when you're ready to transfer your items to a real purse, you don't have to look for them individually.

7. Keep wipes in an outer compartment

Baby wipes aren't just for diaper changes: They're also great for cleaning up messy faces, wiping off smudges, touching up your makeup and more. Since you'll be reaching for them time and time again, keep a container of sensitive baby wipes in an easily accessible outer compartment of your bag.

Another great tip? Shop the Comforts line on www.comfortsforbaby.com to find premium baby products for a fraction of competitors' prices. Or, follow @comfortsforbaby for more information!

This article was sponsored by The Kroger Co. Thank you for supporting the brands that supporting Motherly and mamas.

Our Partners

What you need to know about President Trump's Supreme Court pick

The President has reportedly selected his third SCOTUS nominee.

President Donald Trump has chosen his third pick for the Supreme Court—and he picked a mom.

The New York Times reports President Trump is choosing Judge Amy Coney Barrett as his nominee. An official statement is scheduled for Saturday.

Keep reading Show less
popular