Sunday, April 19, 2009

The Role of Daughter

As a woman, I've found that I wear a lot of hats. When you call me a woman, that name carries so many defintions and roles that it's mind boggling.

Let's try to list them:

Wife. Mother. Sister. Friend. Master (to my doggie Princess). Speaker. Writer. Administrative Assistant. Mentor. Tutor. Cheerleader. House Cleaner. Clothes Washer. Cook. Chauffeur. Encourager. Advocate. Teacher. Leader. Student. Nutritionist. Exerciser. Maid. Office Cleaner. Supporter. Lover. Watcher. Reader. Listener. Learner. Football fanatic. Dancer.

****Notice I never mentioned Fashionista! Or Decorator! I'm not gifted in that way. Oh how I wish I was. But I'm smart enough to realize this. So I seek help in those areas.

****Notice I also didn't mention Daughter. Until now.

Yes, I am a daughter. Daughter of my father and Daughter of my mother.

I've been a daughter since the day I was born. Being a daughter for the most of my life has meant I was the baby. I've been taken care of.

As a baby, my parents changed my diapers, taught me right from wrong, taught me about Jesus, gave me love, gave me security, were there for me whether I succeeded or failed, guided me, gave me advice, and mostly gave me UNCONDITIONAL and UNFAILING LOVE!!!! I soaked it up. And I always knew that I could go to them.

Lately, the role of daughter has taken a drastic turn. Daughter now means I do the taking care of. And that's new.

Cancer has struck my mom. This is a new role for her too. She's used to taking care of those around her. I know it's hard for her to allow others to care for her. I know that. But, God knows How I Miss Her. I miss her coming to my rescue. I miss her driving to Charlotte to take care of me. Now the roles are somewhat reversed. I drive to Rock Hill to see her, spend time with her, and try to take care of her. Although I'm not near as good as it as she is.

My dad is dealing with a different scenario. In the past year, he has gone through his 3rd divorce, lives in an assisted living facility in Greenville, SC, is depressed, has gained weight, diabetes has gotten worse, and overall health is just not good. I don't live as close to him as I do Mom. I try to get him when I can. This past week was one of those times. I went and picked him up and brought him to Charlotte hoping that he would enjoy his visit....attending Hayden's track meet, Dylan's baseball game, and a birthday party in honor of him! And he did. While he was here, I did his laundry and took him shopping for clothes. When I brought him back to his home, I took him grocery shopping and cleaned his apartment.

Please hear me. It is an honor for me to give back to my parents. It is an honor to love them and care for them.

But I have to be honest. I miss being the Daughter.

I've realized that I will probably never be the Daughter again. Or at least the role has changed. Will I be anyone's baby ever again? Maybe. Maybe not. But that's life.

I don't feel 42 years old. There's a huge part of me that still feels 12. Longing for love, protection, security, and guidance. Thank God, He is there for my 12 year old self. I don't ever have to worry about being His caretaker. He will always be there to be mine. That's a wonderful feeling. It brings me peace. I know I have the strength because He provides it. He provides it through His Word, His Presence, and His People.

And I'm thankful for each.




Teresa @ Grammy Girlfriend said...

Beautiful post and a place I was a few years ago. And it is HARD.

Joyful said...

Melissa, I feel like you must have been sitting around the corner, while my friend Andrea and I had this very conversation Saturday afternoon. I was mourning the loss of being just a 'daughter'. I realize birth still allows me to hold the title, but I no longer can run to them to take care of my needs. Our roles have reversed, and I'm their care-giver. I don't like being the 'adult' here. In my mind, I still want to be able to climb up on that knee that always offered protection and feel the security of arms around me telling me everything will be OK.

Feeling your loss my kindred spirit friend,
PS. You didn't mention your 'hat' as blogger - and I'm so glad you are - that's how you found me!

Tracie Miles said...

Sweet friend, your post touched my heart so much. My heart goes out to you, and I know just how you feel. I spent the weekend with my step mom and helping to care for her while my dad took some time to get out of the house and be with the grandkids. I had to help her do things that normally we would not want someone to help us do. I do the same for my sister. And just like you, I am honored and blessed to care for them, but it does create a sense of loss, at so many different levels. A loss of how things used to be, and how things should still be, and having to accept that they will never be quite the same. Although I am still just the daughter to my parents right now, I know that one day that will change, and that God is using my current circumstances to groom me to do what will need to be done in the future - not just from a caregiver perspective, but from a perspective of growing our hearts to love Him, to be His hands and feet to those who need us, to extend patience and selfless service, and to give others the same grace that we would ourselves want to receive. My heart is with you, and I am still praying for you. Thanks again for this beautiful post. :)

Anonymous said...

Your post always touch my heart. I can't imagine what you have been going through the last few months but just know that you have a lot of people praying for you and love you.

Renee Swope said...

Melissa, my eyes are filled with tears. My heart is filled with ache. You have beauitfully put into words what so many are feeling. My mom is 72 and I am trying to savor the gift of what we have now. Your words and your honesty help me see how precious each day is. I love you my friend!


Anonymous said...

Melissa, Your post touched my heart in a very special way. I know exactly how you feel. Both of my parents are in bad health. My mom was recently dignosed with Alzheimers and my dad has had 3 strokes which have taken a toll on his mental state as well. I do so miss being the "daughter" and being taken care of. The roles have reversed and don't get me wrong, I am so glad that I am able to take care of my parents. It is hard as I live 4 hours away and there are times I really need to be there but I am unable to. it is just difficult to be the "adult" now. Hang in there and know that you are not in this situation by yourself. I'm leaving my email just in case you need a place to vent to an understanding person/friend.

Shelly Gauldin

Anne Marie said...

Melissa, I was amazed at your 'hats' because I feel that I wear the exact same ones! When you mentioned that fashionista and decorator weren't on there I cracked up because those two wouldn't be on mine either!! The I see that you're 42, my age - lots in common : ) However my parents are both in good health and do come to my rescue when I need them and I will NEVER take that for grated again. Thanks to you I'm getting a glimpse into the future and I have never been so grateful for the good health of my parents as I am right now. Thank you so much for sharing yourself with us. I can't imagine how difficult this must be for you....

Marilyn in Mississippi said...

First let me say that you certainly don't look 42! So maybe that's why you feel younger! :)

Secondly, I can totally identify with not getting to be the "daughter" anymore. I grew up in a family where there was not much emotion shown and not any spoiling was done. My Daddy was a very strict disciplinarian. I felt loved and taken care of as a child but not in a demonstrative way. I don't remember hugs and "I love you's" from my Daddy. From my Mama, sometimes. But when my Mama died when I was sixteen I became an adult in every way. I was the only child left at home and so I was in charge of all the cooking, cleaning, ironing, grocery shopping, etc. while my Daddy worked, plus still going to school and keeping up my grades. All my brothers and sisters are VERY much older than me and none lived nearby so all the responsibility fell on my shoulders. So, I guess I've been missing being the "daughter" all these many years since Mama died. It's been tough not having someone to turn to in my early married years, when my babies came along, whatever. My Daddy remarried and lived a long life....I just lost him two years ago at age 96....and for the last couple of years of his life I was more the "Mama" than the "daughter". Funny how life is that way. I have been thinking a lot lately about getting old myself. I'm in my mid 50's. Seems like when we are young we never think about getting old and then it just slips up on us. I guess I'm rambling. Sorry. I do greatly admire the way you are trying to help your mother and make as many memories with her as possible. I know she feels so blessed having you as a daughter!


Wendy Blight said...

Sweet Melissa,

How precious for you to share your heart. I know there are many women whose hearts are in that same place...longing for what will never be again!! I pray God will fill that place with His GREAT LOVE...that you will KNOW that you KNOW that you KNOW you are His daughter...a daughter of the King. He will hold you in His loving arms when your tears fall, when your heart breaks, when you are weary and just can't take another step. I pray that when you reach that place, a sweet moment with one of your parents will come that will take you back to when you were the "daughter" and bless you richly!!

I love you, sweet friend,


Holly said...

OOOh Melissa - great post. It touched me deeply...thanks for these words...