6.5 Editor's Pick
April 26, 2018

Parenting your Parent.

When a Parent & Child’s Roles begin to Reverse.

I just said goodbye to my momma this morning.

We had a wonderful visit. I learned a lot, and a lot of learning came to fruition.

For many years—decades, really—our relationship has changed and flipped so that I feel more “in charge” and capable, and she feels less so. That’s been hard and weirdly insulting, as if things were backward. But I’ve learned that being irritated with her sometimes-stubborn helplessness is pointless, and mean, and wrong. And that just taking things lightly, and really being there for her no matter what, is what’s important. And then things feel sweet and loving again.

In even the hardest times we’ve been 90% loving, but now, finally, after nearly 20 days together all day long, a third of that traveling together, I can say I’ve figured it out and been able to fall into a rhythm of love and service with her.

Last night, when she’d lost her wallet, was the peak of that—she was so upset and sad and hard on herself, endlessly–and I was just helpful and there for her, when I could have been condescending and told her to get over it or just made things worse.

And this morning, she found it.

I love you mom. Love you! You are everything good that has ever happened to me.





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Michelle Anson May 24, 2018 5:46pm

I've been parenting my mom for nearly 20 years - I'm 47. Her physical issues, health issues, mental health and life circumstances are really tough to manage sometimes. I struggle with getting her to eat well, to drink sufficiently, to practice her physical and occupational therapy exercises. I often feel like I am a single parent of a 76 year old, special needs child. I struggle with it, a lot...daily sometimes. Raising parents is hard work.

Tracey Kenard Apr 28, 2018 12:32pm

I love this. Sorry for the loss of your mama :-( We'er going thru the same thing w/our mom; the role reversal of parenting mom freaked me out to say the least. It's a fine line of respecting her as our mom and all she ever did, and guiding her like she's a child. This is a very 'tender' time for me; I cherish her more than ever.

Vee Lee Lee Apr 26, 2018 11:35pm

I liked this a whole lot. I felt all the cosiness and love and took in the profundity of what your Mum said. You two, sitting there and the magic of that moment, how everything before got you both to this perfect right now; it amazes me how I can feel a connection to all that but of course, I'm perfectly right now too, watching it. Anyway, I'm often impressed by you and think you're a wonderful human being and that's because your Mum is too.

Michelle Margaret Apr 26, 2018 3:59pm

So heartwarming! Thank you for sharing.

MiMi Meeks Apr 26, 2018 2:56pm

I've already commented on your insta feed. I loved reading it again. I've always felt responsible for my mom. She reminds me of yours in some ways. Reading this (again and again) has helped put a lot of things into perspective with my relationship with my mom..... As always I'm grateful for the talent of the writers of Elephant (especially its founder). <3

Stacy Robertson Sitinas Apr 26, 2018 1:09pm

You and your mom are awesome! This is when us moms know we've done a great (not just good) job at raising our children to be wonderful people. Kudos to you and your mom. This brought tears!!

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Waylon Lewis

Waylon Lewis, founder of Elephant Journal & host of Walk the Talk Show with Waylon Lewis, is a 1st generation American Buddhist “Dharma Brat.” Voted #1 in U.S. on twitter for #green two years running, Changemaker & Eco Ambassador by Treehugger, Green Hero by Discovery’s Planet Green, Best (!) Shameless Self-Promoter at Westword’s Web Awards, Prominent Buddhist by Shambhala Sun, & 100 Most Influential People in Health & Fitness 2011 by “Greatist”, Waylon is a mediocre climber, lazy yogi, 365-day bicycle commuter & best friend to Redford (his rescue hound). His aim: to bring the good news re: “the mindful life” beyond the choir & to all those who didn’t know they gave a care. elephantjournal.com | His first book, Things I would like to do with You, touches on modern relationships from a Buddhist point of view. His dream of 9 years, the Elephant “Ecosystem” will find a way to pay 1,000s of writers a month, helping reverse the tide of low-quality, unpaid writing & reading for free online.