Too Old to Parent?
Parenting: The Sequel
Getting on With Life
Grace says that when Sophie was beginning to recover enough to
consider the future, it became evident that she would not be able to return to
the demanding schedule and long hours of law practice. Instead, she started
keeping a journal at Grace's suggestion and began to find the energy to write
for a short time in the mornings. A few of her literary essays have won awards,
and she is now beginning to work seriously as a writer, as her health
"We talk about writing a lot," Grace, a fiction writer
herself, says. "We share ideas and books. Sophie goes to any readings that
are during her few hours of energy. Twice, our work has been anthologized in
the same volumes, and because she couldn't stretch her energy enough to perform
at readings, I read her work.
"There are still those moments without hope -- but never
self-pity," says Grace. To cope, Grace writes her fiction and focuses on
her three grandchildren. In turn, the grandchildren adore their Aunt Sophie,
who creates art projects for them. Grace adds that Sophie has never demanded so
much of her attention that she could not find some time for herself.
"There are times when she meets former classmates and their
babies, moments when the Harvard alumni magazine arrives and she reads about
the professional successes of her classmates -- when she's certain she will
never fight her way out of this," Grace says. "We listen, we tell her,
yes, she's gotten a lousy deal, and then we try to be upbeat, to make lemonade
out of her lemons and then to sweeten it. Sometimes we feel choked by the
The Greatest Gifts
Perhaps the most valuable contribution parents make to adult
children like Sophie is to provide optimistic reassurance. "I continue to
say that one day she will be well enough to meet men," Grace says.
"She's very attractive. I say one day she will meet a man with children who
is in search of a loving partner and loving mother for those children. She says
I am dreaming."
"But I tell her, 'We need dreams.'"