Monday, 30 November 2009

Retirement is not an option.

An acquaintance 'phoned me yesterday to explain that she will not be able to attend a meeting next Saturday and would I please pass on her apologies. I may not get to the meeting either but my reasons for not doing so will be very different from hers.
She is 'baby sitting' for at least the next six months, possibly longer. "Baby sitting" is not quite the right term but it is the one she used. What she will be doing is looking after her son's three children, aged 4, 7 and 10 yrs. She will be doing this full time. It is not the retirement this acquaintance had planned. Retirement was supposed to be a chance to do a little travelling, get the garden in order, do some community work with a service club and the church and join out knitting group. It was supposed to be a slow preparation for a move to a retirement village in the knowledge that her family will not be willing or able to care for her. She is not in the best of health so all of this had been carefully considered. It was supposed to be a balanced approach to life. Now she will be endeavouring to find the energy to do what a much younger person would do. What is more she will have to do it alone. Her husband died some years ago.
Add to all that there are her daughter's children, the two who need to be picked up from school and taken to football and athletics and all the other activities. She will be caring for them over the month of the summer holidays as well.
Her children know what they are asking. They say it will keep her busy, active, young and that it will be good for her. I wonder. She feels she cannot refuse. I asked her what they would do if she was not available. The matter had not even been discussed. What if you become really ill? That has not been discussed. Non-availability is not an option. Illness is not an option. Retirement is not an option. So why are her children are already planning their retirement?


Holly said...

sounds like a more than bit of selfishness to me on the part of her children.

At the same time, she needs to learn to stand up for herself. Driving around picking up and dropping off makes no sense if her health is not good.

Perhaps her doctor would be willing to do an intervention - that she can not manage the children for more than four hours a day which would eliminate the summer.

Was she looking for a sympathetic ear? Support? Or assistance in figuring out how to do the right thing (take care of her own health)?

catdownunder said...

Her kids have been bullying her for years from what I can see. She also believes it is what a lot of other grandparents do or would do.
I just happen to think there are too many grandparents around here who do far more than they should reasonably be expected to do anyway. Why have children if you expect someone else to bring them up?

Donna Hosie said...

What a shame. I agree with Holly's comment: part selfishness on the part of the children, but she also needs to stand up for herself.

catdownunder said...

She is just old enough not to be the 'women's lib' generation unfortunately, she lacks self confidence - and the kids are not particularly attractive. They have a lot of the material things and not much attention. This is not going to help but I can't interfere as I hardly know her.

Adelaide Dupont said...

Elder abuse. UGH.

Was thinking of the grandkids. It would probably be disruptive and depressing and distressing if the grandmother died soon as a result of this arrangement. (Especially to the younger ones, from 4 to 10 is a really important age in getting to know your grandparents in relation to you and the world).

There are lots of us - of all ages - who cannot work more than 4 hours. Children can be a 24-7 job. Yes, this does vary with ages.

Rachel Fenton said...

She should invoice her kids for the time - that'll sort it!

A lot of drama in these comments. I'm sure it is an opportunity for her to instill some good manners in her grandchildren which she hasn't managed with her kids. My kids can't see their grandparents and vice versa because of distance. It will be the summer hols very soon. The kids can be a great help to her and make her feel young. Everyone is so anti-kids. Kids are fun, they make you feel young and alive (unless they're really naughty, in which case she should hand them back and retire!) Why is everyone in such a hurry to retire? You only die because there's nothing left for you to be busy with/for.

catdownunder said...

There is retirement and then there is retirement. My father took up another career - making conjuring apparatus for magicians. It was something he had always wanted to do. I look on retirement as a change of direction - if I get the chance!