I had lunch this week with my daughter, my youngest child and mother of my three grand-daughters. We started to talk about my Parkinson’s and how I was doing and generally how it has affected me.
Life is busy. I work four days a week in a busy and stressful job. I have a husband who does shift work. I have three granddaughters here and three grandsons in Wellington. It feels sometimes like I am constantly trying to find time for things. For myself, for my husband, for my children and for my grandchildren. It is not always easy.
We talked about how I have changed since my diagnosis. I have consciously tried to spend more time with those that I love and most especially with my grandchildren. It is somewhat easier to spend time with the granddaughters because we live in the same city. Unfortunately, not so easy to spend time with my grandsons.
In talking with my daughter she stated that she felt since my diagnosis, I had been more present for her daughters. At times prior to diagnosis, she had felt that I had not been making as much time for them as she – or they – would have liked. She is probably right and it was difficult to hear. Parkinson’s has made family and spending time with them more important. I admit I didn’t feel the urgency to spend time with them the same prior to diagnosis. Perhaps I felt I had all the time in the world, I was busy, they were busy and I fitted in time with them around other aspects of my life.
I don’t think I realised how much my daughter and my granddaughters wanted to have time with me. That I was someone that they wanted to spend time with. That perhaps I wasn’t making enough effort to be with them.
It is difficult being a parent sometimes. As our children move through the stages of life, we have to learn how to be the parent that they need. When they in turn become parents, we need to learn how to grandparent and what that means for us and what they need from us. I admit I have struggled from time to time, not wanting to intrude on their lives, not knowing what is enough time spent with them and what is getting in the way of other things they might want to do.
My discussion with my daughter was valuable in that she acknowledged that I am trying harder now to be there for her and for her children. I never consciously meant to not be available or present for them, but that seems to have been the case even though I never intended it to be that way.
Parkinson’s doesn’t necessarily mean it is life limiting. That my time with my children and grandchildren will be less. However, I know that my future is likely to be one where I am less able to do things with them. That my mobility will be reduced, that I will one day probably be unable to drive. While I try not to focus too much on that future path, it does make me want to do things with them that I am able to do, like bike riding, walks and other activities before they become too difficult.
It is a fruitless task to focus on what I could have done better as a person in the past. As a mother, a grandmother, a wife.
All I can do is to move forward positively and make space and time in my life for those I love.