Can anyone pinpoint the exact moment they reversed roles with their parents? Do you have one crystal vision of that transposition that you can articulate? Or was it a gradual slipping and sliding until suddenly, you found yourself reassuring them, checking on them, providing for them, repeatedly?
And what about simultaneously parenting our own children? Don’t we blindly dive into parenthood with the belief that we will always be the caregiver to our kids, that we will never be “a burden”? As young adults, are they silently watching us parents frantically calling long distance to siblings, doctors, health aides, relatives, friends or, god forbid, the police, and wonder when they will be doing the same for us?
How do we maintain a healthy balance in our lives as we juggle the responsibilities of caring for both the young and the old, and still take care of ourselves? How much should one be expected to handle alone and when is it justifiable and okay to ask for help?
I suppose I should consider myself lucky; my parents are both alive and still (barely) managing to live on their own, having downsized from the home I grew up in to a smaller, safer condo in a lovely over-55 community, and I have two very involved siblings who live near them and manage their emergencies. My own two sons are happy, healthy and thriving, as they should be. Yet, they all have their needs, different though they may be, that require the assistance of others. But then again, don’t we all?
So in an effort to cheer and comfort my eighty-three year old folks, and my twenty-one year old son, all of whom have been literally frozen in place on the east coast, I fired up the stove, melted some chocolate and set to baking and shipping off some care packages.
My version of Maida Heatter’s All-American Chocolate Brownies, (this time with pecan pieces) for my folks, and Melissa Clark’s Chocolate Streusel Poundcake for Adam and his adorable girlfriend – the one with the finishing salt fetish – are on their way. Here’s hoping UPS can beat the coming blizzard!
If you’re hankering for your own bit of comfort, try my brownie recipe below.
Chocolate Pecan Brownies
1 stick unsalted butter
2 oz semi-sweet chocolate
scant cup sugar
1/2 tsp vanilla
2 eggs, beaten with a fork
1/2 c flour
generous pinch of kosher salt (my secret ingredient!)
2 oz chopped pecans
Preheat oven to 350 degrees and line an 8″ square baking pan with foil. Butter the foil or spray with nonstick cooking spray and set pan aside.
Melt the butter and chocolate in the top of a double boiler and stir to combine. Set aside to cool, then stir in the sugar, vanilla and eggs. Carefully mix in the flour and salt until completely smooth. Add the nuts. (Throw in extra – my husband likes handfuls!)
Pour the batter into the prepared baking pan and place in hot oven for 20-25 minutes. The top of the brownies should give a little and a small knife inserted into the center should be just barely clean, indicating a cooked but still slightly soft interior. Gooey and yum!
Allow the brownies to cool in the pan for 10 minutes, then carefully lift them out using the edges of the foil. When cooled, slice into squares.