When I was growing up, Dad fixed everything. He was a mechanical engineer by training and the son of a well digger. He replaced pipes in the house, wired electricity, and worked on every car we owned.

So, it was a big change for Dad, actually for all of us, when we started calling a plumber. Though Dad likes and trusts the plumber, he doesn’t like to be around when Seth does the work. So, he sits in the family room or hides in the bedroom. I think he is grieving. I think he feels useless. I think he feels like he will just be in the way. I know he is very frustrated that he can’t do the work anymore.

This change has been hard for all of us. I’m grieving too. I am frustrated too. When Dad could do the fixing, he was in charge. Now if something needs work, Mom gets impatient and looks at me to do something. Really? I like to work with my hands, but I am not strong enough, skilled enough, or experienced enough to take on their home maintenance.

Parent-care comes with so many new roles. I am a daughter, a care-taker, a financial adviser, a bookkeeper, a grocery shopper, a laundress, and more. Many of these roles are ok with me, but I am not prepared to be the plumber, electrician, and general handyman that my father was. I have my limits.

Setting limits with Mom can be difficult. She doesn’t understand why I won’t just fix the sink in the basement. It’s so hard not to be a smartass. I want to say “When you were 62 could you fix that sink?!? If so, why didn’t you? It has been leaking for fifteen years and suddenly it’s MY PROBLEM to solve!”

Soooo many feelings. We are all grieving the loss of physical strength, cognitive abilities, personal power, and independence. It comes out as anger, frustration, sadness, vulnerability, and loneliness. Phew!

There were good days and bad days. I do best when I can identify the thoughts and feelings each one of us was experiencing. I try to have grace and compassion for everyone – even myself. I am the most patient when I have slept well, seen friends, been to yoga, and generally taken care of myself. I must consistently nurture my mind, body, and spirit even while we all grieve.

Coaching note: I am often reminding my clients about the importance of setting limits and self-care. I do best when I practice what I preach.

To learn more about me or sign up for coaching, check out Individual Coaching.




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