Apr 28, 2020
“I come from a close family. My parents have been involved in all aspects of my children’s lives and are extremely special to them. I have one adult sibling who has special needs and is cared for exclusively by my aging parents. At the time of his birth, it was common for children with special needs to be placed in an institution rather than raised at home. My parents never considered this and have proudly fulfilled his every need without assistance. It has always been a fact of life that I would take over his care when my parents could not continue. I willingly accept this and have made preparations.
My husband and I are now experiencing the freedom of the empty nest, as our children are away at university. The last few years have been incredibly stressful, as one of our sons out of the blue and with no warning began identifying as female during high school after a history of anxiety and depression. We have never told my parents. They have so much to deal with already and it would be cruel to put them through the worry and fear they’d undoubtedly feel. So, for the past few years, they have been unaware of their grandchild’s double life. Our son has never told them and interacts with them as the grandson they know and love.
At this time in my life I am reflecting on parenthood and enjoying a return to individuality as I explore my own goals and passions without the soccer games, swim team, and band practices. Only now do I realize the sacrifices my mother has made by committing her life to my brother. I would love to connect more deeply with my mother, who recently said to me that she wished we could be better friends. Her grandchildren are the light of her life. How can I nurture a deeper “woman to woman” relationship while keeping a secret that consumes my own life? I feel guilty for not being more helpful over the years as I raised my own children, and for enjoying this new freedom that she can never have. She and my father have recently fallen into poor health. If ever it existed, the window for adding any further stress to their lives has closed, as they are now navigating the medical system and an uncertain future. It breaks my heart that she has felt in recent years that I was too busy for her when in reality I have needed her very much but distanced myself in order to protect her.
Lisa and Stella, thank you for reading my story. I understand that it may not make it into an episode of the podcast, but it still brings me comfort to know you’ve heard it :) Thank you both for what you’re doing for mothers everywhere.”