This morning Sebellah decided she wanted the “Lolli Special” for breakfast. The “Lolli Special” is sausage and salsa in a corn tortilla. I add eggs and cheese, but Sebellah keeps it simple, sausage and salsa in the tortilla. After I removed the sausage from the pan, I decided to use my own method of cleaning our nonstick frying pan, wiping it down carefully with a paper towel. It’s a little risky, but usually I can get away with it. This morning, I didn’t “get away with it”, and I burned my fingertips a little. Not emergency room experience, but painful none the less. Sebellah immediately ran to the restroom and came back with a box of band aids. She insisted that I needed to use her “Combo Panda” band aids, after all they were “boy” band aids, she insisted. So, as I am typing this, I am typing with a “Combo Panda” band aid on my left middle finger. It did help a little, along with an ointment I put on first. It does make typing a little more challenging, though.
I am healing, as evidenced by my being able to type. The story does remind me of a title of a book by Henri Nouwen, “The Wounded Healer”. Henri Nouwen is one of my favorite authors. The title is a good description of our experience as grandparents raising grandchildren. Most of the time we are focused on the role of being a “healer” in the lives our precious grandchildren, or at least being instruments of healing in their young lives. It is also important that we also stop from time to time and recognize our own “woundedness” that impacts our lives and life experience. After all, to remain in the role of healer in their lives, we must be healthy ourselves. I initially resisted her demand that I put on a band aid, but then realized that putting on the band aid at her request would mean a lot to her. So, I put on the band aid. It did help a little.
So, we need to allow ourselves to be “Wounded Healers” and take the time to seek healing for our own woundedness, regardless, if the woundedness is related to our experience of being grandparents raising grandchildren or not. Our woundedness may be the grief that we experience daily related to the pain and destructiveness we see in the lives of our adult children. For some, it is the excruciating grief related to the total loss of our adult child due to an overdose or something of that kind. Even if your adult child is still alive, they have loss so much of what their lives should have been like. Either experience creates a hole in your heart as a parent.
Maybe your woundedness relates to dealing with your own aging parents. Maybe it’s your own battle with the aging process or your own medical condition. Maybe your woundedness is the loss of time with your friends, your partner or yourself.
Regardless of the specificity of your woundedness, I encourage you to acknowledge it, give yourself permission to experience it, and respect yourself enough to give it the attention it needs. Take the time to grieve by journaling, talking to a friend or attending a support group. Take the time to go to the doctor to address your medical needs. Take the time to spend time with your ailing parent. Take the time to schedule a date with your partner or a date with yourself for a day, an afternoon or evening, or maybe even a weekend.
Just as these precious grandchildren deserve the time and attention they need to heal, develop and grow, so do we.
So, stop and take the time to put on your own, “Combo Panda” band aid. It does help!
Sharing the Journey,
Rich (Better known as “Pops”)