Parenting And The Unfairness Of Life

Amaryllis, © Joan Z. Rough

I will be turning seventy years old next week, and one of the lessons I’ve learned over the years is that being a parent doesn’t end when your child walks out the door, goes to college, and then gets married.  Being a parent is a life long proposition.

There is a huge amount of letting go one must suffer through in order to live life with ease, once the kids are gone. But no matter how much I let go, I find that I’m still alert to the tone of their voices and body language. And by indelicately stepping over the line from time to time, I disturb their peace, as well as my own.  But like a little kid touching a hot stove, I tend to learn what not to do by doing it anyway.  At last, I’ve figured out that they are learning about life the same way that I am. If someone tells us the stove is hot and we touch it anyway, we get burned and learn to trust the signals we are given.

As parents, Bill and I have been very lucky. Our two grown children, have had happy and meaningful lives. When there are narrow roads filled of boulders to navigate through, I worry a bit as any mother would.  But I’ve learned that being mindful of boundaries, both theirs and mine is of the utmost importance. During difficult times, I might think about them more often than I usually do, and send positive energy their way. But other than that I usually feel my job is done and know they are perfectly capable of getting through their troubles. But there are times when their pain is so great, that I want to sweep them up into my arms, rock them like I did all those years ago, when they fell and got hurt. I want to tell them that everything will be alright, that the pain will soon be gone and the sun will shine once again.

I’m in one of those spots right now.  It seems that life can take turns that are not fair.  Hurricane/Super Storm Sandy, was not fair to all of those who lost their lives, their homes and are living without electricity as winter comes on.  I can send a donation to the Red Cross and make myself feel better, but it’s still heartbreaking and unfair.  So much of life is like that and I often join the ranks of those yelling and screaming about it. But it’s one thing if it’s a political issue. When it comes to the weather or illness, no amount of breast beating, yelling, threatening or screaming can stop what we deem to be not right.

About a month ago, Mark’s adopted daughter, Casey, was diagnosed with stage four breast cancer.  She has had a double mastectomy and is preparing for some eight months of chemo and radiation.  She is twenty-four years old and none of us, including her Doctors know what will happen.  Every day, I hear myself repeating that it isn’t fair. That one so young can be struck by such a horrible disease, makes my heart break.  But it also aches for my son, her mom, Jane, her sister, Trish, her brother, Dustin, her boyfriend, Ian, and all of the people who care so deeply for this beautiful young woman. Everyone who knows her is grieving and we all pray that she will be well again and be able to live out a long and happy life.

For most of my life, I have wanted to save the world from suffering. I find it almost unbearable to see those I love in pain.  Once in a while I’ve been able to bring a smile to a sad face, but it lasts only a few moments. Right now I feel paralyzed. I wish I could do something to help all of those I love ease their way through this life as it is. I wish I could remove cancer from the land and bring an end to all pain.

As a mother and a parent, I grieve for my son, a parent himself, going through what could turn out to be the unspeakable pain that no parent should ever have to go through … The fear of losing a child.

Healing thoughts and prayers are greatly appreciated for Casey, as well as for all those who also have had their lives turned upside down by cancer.

May peace be with all of us through difficult times.

This entry was posted in Childhood, family, Fear, Life, love, Navigating Through Life and tagged , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

8 Responses to Parenting And The Unfairness Of Life

  1. warmginger says:

    I found your post incredible moving. It’s lovely to have your words of wisdom from further along the road of parenthood. My thoughts and prayers will be with Casey this morning. x

  2. Judy says:

    I have written a lot of losing a child – as I lost my son decades ago. As a grandparent, you are suffering doubly with your own sadness and seeing your child suffer. I’m so sorry. Hang in there.

    • jzrart says:


      Thank you so much for your kind words. I cannot imagine what you have been through and am so sorry for your loss. Yes, it’s a sad time, but life is still good and full of joy when I’m mindful of each and every moment. There are lessons to be learned in each and every one.

      I’ve visited your blog and find it very inspiring. I’ll be back.

  3. Ann Floyd says:

    Oh Joan,

    Darn! Life just doesn’t make sense sometimes. Double darn! I will hold Casey, and you al in my thoughts.

    Big hugs all around!


  4. Dr. McGann says:

    My Dad always told me as a child, “Life ain’t fair!” I thought it was to justify sibling squabble or his favoritism. Then came adulthood … then came my career in Oncology. Cancer is tough. Everyday we go to Battle against this disease … my heart & prayers goes out to you and your family. May you find it in your heart enjoy your birthday, in spite of the circumstances. Peace and Blessings

  5. jzrart says:

    Thanks Dr. McGann, for your prayers and best wishes. We’re a tough bunch and hope this won’t get the better of us. I do plan on celebrating my birthday, thanks! Peace and blessings to you as well.

    Took a look at your blog. It’s great and very informative. You’re doing good work!


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