My parents always worried about me. (After Chris and I were married, those thoughts included her.) My father’s key question was usually, “Do you have enough money?” and my mother’s queries usually centered on being healthy. They held onto those parenting instincts throughout my adulthood.
The present situation—the economy, COVID-19, the political maelstrom—seems to be heightening my own older adult parenting instincts. Just like my mother and father, I think a lot about our adult children and their families. Because they’re spread out across the country, I pay attention to any map that shows what might be happening in their locale. My ears are attuned to key words or phrases that might especially apply to them—e.g., “Colleges in the Northeast have banded together to sue the Administration”, “Unrest in Minneapolis shocks city residents” or “Rural health care may be in jeopardy.” I try to gauge their possible vulnerabilities to changes in the economy or the environment. My daily newspaper reading always includes a few moments focusing on their local weather. When we Zoom- or text-share what’s been happening in our lives, I ratchet up my listening skills to see if I’m hearing any clues about possible distress or danger.
If parenting was purely an objective matter, I’d tone down the worry. Our kids have been mature adults for decades now! They have established careers, relationships and reputations. By any measure, they’re smart and wise enough to anticipate anything that might threaten their well-being.
Still, this enduring parenting instinct still feels necessary—even when it’s perhaps over-active. And because plenty of prayers are mixed into my thinking, I imagine that I could claim my later-in-life watchfulness as part of a holy calling.
Something that won’t stop, no matter how old I am….