Role Reversal: When Did my Daughters Become the Bosses of Me?

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My daughters hated it when I said, “Make good choices” when they were teenagers. My words are back to haunt me.

I got scolded by my daughters. At family dinner a few weeks ago, I made the mistake of dreaming aloud about a few open water swims I have my sights set on for future goals. My youngest daughter immediately burst into reprimanding me. With a stern tone in her voice, she asked me if I hadn’t learned anything from my husband’s recent ambulance ride two-thirds of the way through an Ironman Triathlon. We all witnessed the scary episode, complete with medics treating him for dehydration and electrolyte imbalances as he lay flat on his back on 41st and Riverside. It left us all shaken. I assured her I would always keep safety foremost on my mind, but I would continue to seek adventures. I’m in my sixties, and although the sands of time are moving swifter, I am nowhere near ready for the rocking chair.

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After a 2.4-mile swim, a 112-mile bike ride, and a ten-mile run, my husband’s Ironman race ended with an ambulance ride.

After addressing her somewhat valid concerns, I asked her, “When did our roles reverse, and you became the mother, and I became the daughter?” My older daughter chose that moment to chime in passionately with, “We’ll continue to mother you as long as you continue to make poor choices.”  Wow, just wow! She took the words I said to them when they were teenagers, twisted them a bit, and shot them right back to me! How did this reversal of roles come about, and am I the only one in this situation?

I love that my daughters care about me and are concerned for my safety and well-being. Their concerns became apparent during the pandemic. During the first wave of Covid-19, people in my age group were the most vulnerable. My husband and I were fortunate that we could work from home, order our groceries to be picked up curbside, and isolate ourselves. Since my daughters both work with the public, they were careful to keep their distance from us. They checked on us daily and made masked outdoor visits, often dropping off little treats for us. When we were all fully vaccinated, it was a sweet reunion. Now with the Delta variant, we’re back to precautions.

As much as I appreciate the consideration and love my daughters show me, it does make me wonder. Maybe I have done my share of contributing to this role reversal. For instance, I have absolutely no fashion sense. I don’t care about clothing, makeup, or hairstyles. Although this hasn’t mattered much in the last year of staying at home, previous to that, I depended heavily on my youngest daughter to keep me from looking like it was still the 1970s. She put herself through college with scholarships and working at a women’s clothing store. When I came to visit, she would have clothing selected for me, and I would simply take her advice and buy them. I can’t remember the last time I purchased an item of clothing that didn’t have her stamp of approval.

My other daughter advises me on medical matters. She is a veterinarian, and most of her advice begins with, “If a dog has this issue, I would prescribe blah, blah, blah.” I’m somewhat offended by her constant comparisons of me to a dog, but I always take her advice because she is brilliant and usually correct (woof, woof).

Maybe I’ve been too needy in requesting advice from my daughters, but the truth is, they each have areas of expertise beyond me. One daughter is skilled in cooking, the other in technology. I trust their opinions and knowledge. As they’ve become full-fledged adults, our relationship has evolved. We started with me being the leader, then we became equals, and now those little rascals surpass me in many areas.

I helped my parents as they aged, gradually assisting them in various ways and increasing in frequency as the years went by. I suppose this reversal of roles is typical if one lives long enough and is lucky enough to have loving children. I guess I expected it to happen when I’m in my 80s or 90s, but my kids seem to be getting a head start. The next time one of my daughters scolds me for “making poor choices,” as they put it, I will be thankful I am so loved. And then I’ll probably proceed to do exactly what I want.

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I don’t understand why they think their parents make poor choices? (Pulpit Rock in Norway)

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Categories: Grand Life