• Pat Birnie

This is why I appreciate my parents more every single day.

Updated: Aug 12, 2021



This blog is not really related to Pro-Aging....or is it?


Most of you, my friends and readers are approaching that "pro-aging" stage of life. Many have children that are into their teens or adults. I have 4 kids ranging from 29-39 and lot's of 'bonus' kids - my husband's boys, all the spouses & partners...It's a big family for which I am so grateful. With all of those hearts, there is always one that is hurting, because, well - that's life.


I came across the quote, "What makes night within us may leave stars", in a book recently, and it gave me pause. I love quotes; I collect them and often go back to them for inspiration. This one confused me; after rereading it several times, it was set aside. There was a poetry to the words, but I really didn't know what it meant.


Finally I decided that what it means to me relates to wisdom that comes from the darkest of times. Yes...."what makes night within us may leave stars" describes the growth, wisdom and positivity that emerges from the challenges of life. (if you look up the meaning of the quote, it says something different, but I'll stick with my interpretation)


I don't know at what point I realized that this parenting gig just never ever ends! I feel so bad for the endless pain I must have put my parents through with all my terrible decisions that resulted in really challenging times for me. Finally realizing that every time our child is hurting, we hurt..I really hope I thanked them (and apologized!) frequently enough. I kept thinking that parenting would get easier, but...no, it does not. The little kid phase is physically hard, but typically little kids = little problems. The more they spread their wings the more vulnerable they are. A few months back my daughter called me while she was watching her 7 year old struggle through his first hockey practice. The others on the ice were mostly staying upright. Our guy was falling a lot and seemed to be really struggling. When she said "my mom heart is hurting" I totally got it!! Boy that mom heart goes through a lot. (Great ending to this story - thankfully this trooper has endless confidence and came off the ice saying "I was pretty good wasn't I?"!! )


At some point in life we realize that no one escapes the pain of loss, heartbreak, failure and disappointment, usually multiple episodes through a lifetime. Is it not bad enough to have to suffer through these ordeals ourselves but really, why do we have to go through this pain as each of our child experiences sad times? I really am grateful that my children call me when they have a challenge, or when something goes wrong. I am honoured that I'm the one they reach to when they experience a loss, get their heart broken, lose a pet, struggle at work, and the list goes on. But holy smokes, it brings new life to the expression "I feel your pain" doesn't it?


I do wish that I had some kind of armour. I can listen, cry with them, very occasionally have words of advice but there is not much more I can do. Is there? Really...I'd love some input here - Email me at patbirnie55@gmail.com with your coping mechanisms.


I recently read a wonderful book by Lori Gottlieb, a psychotherapist. "Maybe You Should Talk to Someone" details some challenging cases she has treated, as well as her own experience with therapy. The description of the Psychological Immune System particularly intrigued me and provides brilliant insights on recovery. We have a “psychological immune system as well as a physiological immune system”. This is 'gold', and her brilliant explanation is paraphrased below:


Just as your physiological immune system helps you recover from physical attack, your brain helps you recover from psychological attack. A series of studies at Harvard found that in responding to challenging life events from devastating (losing a loved one, becoming handicapped) to difficult (divorce, job loss), people do better than they anticipate.


They think they’ll never love again, but they do. They think they’ll never laugh again, but they do, often sooner than expected…and possibly eliciting a guilt response. There’s another related concept called impermanence. In pain, we feel the agony will last forever. But feelings are more like weather systems, they blow in and they blow out. Just because you feel sad at this minute, doesn’t mean you’ll feel that way in ten minutes, this afternoon or next week. Hearing a certain song, or having a fleeting memory may plunge you into momentary despair but another song or memory may bring intense joy.

When you “don’t know what to say” or feel like your pain will never go away, reminding yourself of the impermanence may provide a little solace. Thank you Lori Gottlieb for sharing your wisdom.


I certainly know, at this stage of life, that the hurt eases sooner than expected. i also know that when my kids hurt, I ache, lose sleep and feel helpless.


Will it help to tell the heart-broken, that they will assuredly feel better and will love again? When you have experienced unimaginable loss, do you believe that it will ease? Does this knowledge tend to come with maturity? How do you deal with your loved ones' hurt? Does it pierce you to the bone? Again, let's share - how does your childrens' pain impact you - let me know at patbirnie55@gmail.com !


Finally, mom & dad -- I appreciate everything you did for me, and realize that you suffered along with me. I'm sorry and I thank you.

38 views0 comments

Recent Posts

See All