Passing the Torch

iVillage Member
Registered: 05-02-2003
Passing the Torch
Wed, 07-02-2003 - 11:30am
Is there a magic cutoff period when offspring become accountable for their

own actions? Is there a wonderful moment when parents can become detached

spectators in the lives of their children and shrug, "It's their life," and feel nothing?

When I was in my twenties, I stood in a hospital corridor waiting for doctors to put a few stitches in my son's head. I asked, "When do you stop worrying?" The nurse said, "When they get out of the accident stage." My mother just smiled faintly and said nothing.

When I was in my thirties, I sat on a little chair in a classroom and heard how one of my children talked incessantly, disrupted the class, and was headed for a career making license plates. As if to read my mind, a

teacher said, "Don't worry, they all go through this stage and then you can sit back, relax and enjoy them." My mother just smiled faintly and said nothing.

When I was in my forties, I spent a lifetime waiting for the phone to ring, the cars to come home, the front door to open. A friend said, "They're trying to find themselves. Don't worry, in a few years, you can stop worrying. They'll be adults." My mother just smiled faintly and said nothing.

By the time I was 50, I was sick & tired of being vulnerable. I was still worrying over my children, but there was a new wrinkle. There was nothing I could do about it. My mother just smiled faintly and said nothing.

I continued to anguish over their failures, be tormented by their frustrations and absorbed in their disappointments. My friends said that when my kids got married I could stop worrying and lead my own life. I wanted to believe that, but I was haunted by my mother's warm smile and her occasional, "You look pale. Are you all right? Call me the minute you get home. Are you depressed about something?"

Can it be that parents are sentenced to a lifetime of worry? Is concern for one another handed down like a torch to blaze the trail of human frailties and the fears of the unknown? Is concern a curse or is it a virtue that elevates us to the highest form of life?

One of my children became quite irritable recently, saying to me, "Where were you? I've been calling for 3 days, and no one answered. I was worried." I smiled a warm smile. The torch has been passed.


(and also to your children. That's the fun part.)


I found this on another of my boards. I hope you enjoy it as much as I did.

Best Always,


Sherrie Rainbow

Avatar for cl_janetlh
iVillage Member
Registered: 03-19-2003
Thu, 07-17-2003 - 10:26am
Hi, Wendy! Thanks so much for sharing that story. It's wonderful to have parents who love us, and I appreciate how lucky I am.

Janet (I live in the western 'burbs, about 20-30 minutes from you)


Jewish Family Life

iVillage Member
Registered: 07-17-2003
Thu, 07-17-2003 - 4:23am
Hiya Janet, I live in the Philadelphia area too! Conshohocken.

I just had to respond to this although it's beside the point of my 11-year-old son . . .

This winter I had a really serious, really bad virus -- the flu, pneumonia only it wasn't that acute, SARS (!), who knows -- for a month. Literally I was out sick from work for that entire time, miserable and just not getting any better. One night I called my sister for help because my house was a mess, my husband and son weren't doing much to help it, and I was like, desperate!! Well, my sister was due at an all-day conference and couldn't come the next morning, but a litte later in the evening I get a call from my father. My sister had called him. He was very concerned and wanted to know what he could do. He lives 40 miles away. I thanked him and said that I would call the next morning and tell him what he could bring me.

Well, I slept through the next morning, still so miserable, and woke up to hear my 90-year-old father knocking on the door and walking in (which is something my parents do anyway, it's OK)! He had, without waiting to hear from me, driven the 40 miles because he was so concerned about his baby daughter (I'm 53!!) that he just came. He fixed me lunch, went out and got a few things, and did a little before he left. I was just floored, and so touched.

Dad and Mom (she's almost 88) are both in pretty good health (Mom recently dislocated a pelvic bone but it is healing just fine with physical therapy and time!) albeit slower than before (her brother, BTW, is almost 98!!), and they often amaze me

A couple years ago my dad said, "I went up to the Met the other day -- came home about 3 in the morning on the train, and, well, I think I'm going to have to stop." Now, Dad is a retired music professor whose greatest joy in life is seeing the Metropolitan Opera live -- he thinks he's in heaven because now he lives 120 miles from NYC and he can just go. Well, I have to tell you that of course he didn't stop. He and my sister still go every couple of months!! He is amazing.

My dh is sometimes really busy at work and can't always do all these things for me. Neither of us is sick very much so this was really unusual. I just think he didn't know what to do.

But I want to cry a little every time I think of Daddy, still so concerned at age 90 and would do anything for me and my sister (who's 56). He's my best friend; my hero!!

So no, you never stop worrying. That's practically the definition of parenthood.



Avatar for cl_janetlh
iVillage Member
Registered: 03-19-2003
Wed, 07-02-2003 - 11:44am
I just had a conversation similar to this with Rachel. We drove back to Phila. from my parent's house in NY Sunday. As we were putting the kids to bed, the phone rang. Rachel wanted to know who it was. I told her it was Grandma. She replied, but we just saw them! I explained to Rachel that even though I'm in my forties and Grandma is in her 70's, she is still my mother and still worries about me. She was calling to make sure we got home OK.

I *know* I will never stop worrying about my kids!



Jewish Family Life