As the mother of five daughters, I have had no greater joy than watching my girls grow up into remarkable women. Sure I miss watching them take their first wobbly steps, struggling to master the pedals on a bicycle, and assembling shadow boxes for a 5th grade history project. But watching them grow up and leaving those childhoods behind has been my greatest joy.
Three weeks ago today, Madeline’s (23 year, old daughter #4) boyfriend Shawn was hit by a car while riding his bicycle. It was a hit-and-run accident and he has no memory of it until he woke up in the ambulance. His hip was badly fractured. He had minor spine fractures, numerous cuts and scrapes and a terrible road rash on his hip and leg that was about two feet long. After being hospitalized following major surgery he came to our home to recover.
While Shawn was in the hospital, Madeline never left his side. She was able to be there non-stop. Her current state of unemployment turned out to be a huge blessing.
I have a friend who is a stage-four cancer survivor. She spent a lot of time in the hospital receiving treatments and even a got a stem-cell transplant. I remember her saying, “Never leave anyone in the hospital alone. Someone needs to stay with the patient, spending not just the days but especially the nights as an advocate for him or her.” I’ve never forgotten that and have made sure to follow that advice whenever anyone I love has had to stay in the hospital. Madeline learned to carry that torch.
Shawn’s time in the emergency room and as a hospital patient was really hard. Madeline, at his side, had to help him make sense out of the accident and all the tests being performed on him. Missing meals and precious sleep, she helped him deal with incredible pain and assisted him to perform the most menial, everyday tasks. She was as strong as steel during that time.
After he was moved to our house, her determined, unwavering care continued. I have watched her, with utter admiration, as she strategically helped him in and out of bed, adjusted pillows, steadied the walker, handed crutches, changed bandages, dispensed medications—you name it. She did it. Without complaining. It has been hard. Really hard.
What makes this even more admirable is the fact that she has her own health challenges. She was diagnosed with Crohn’s disease when she was fourteen years old. Physical strength and stamina have always been a challenge for her. As her mom, I have tended to not push her beyond what I thought she could handle. I think I’ve short-changed her.
This situation has called out strength, wisdom and selflessness which I have never had the opportunity to see in her before.
She has truly grown up.
Being grown up is not about reaching a certain age and being able to call yourself an adult.
Being grown up is about doing the hard stuff. It’s about finding joy and gratitude in the midst of horrible circumstances. It’s about not feeling “entitled” to your way or your comfort. It’s also about taking initiative, not waiting to be asked. And, not resenting when you are asked to do something. Being grown up is about loving.
Being grown up is not about you.
Question: What else does being grown up look like?