What Does Growing Old Mean?

CR, brilliant as ever, wrote this very interesting post on ageing and living…please do go and have a look!

while I usually never attempt to write on the same topics as CR  because she is just so brilliant that I pale in comparison 🙂 I wanted to write on this one..my thoughts…

Grandparents…the very thought conjures up a old man in a kurta pyjama walking with a stick with a ramrod straight back going for morning walks and evening walks and taking care of the outside activities of the household apart from performing intricate poojas in the house while grandmoms are supposed to be ladies with white hair wearing a saree,praying for 4 hours in the morning to the various deities of the house, cooking, cutting, running after the grandchildren to make them eat and then answering grandpa’s requests for tea…come on most of us think of grandparents that ways

I find it pretty sad that most grandparents I know fall somewhere in this image…most grandparents often spend their post retirement taking care of their grandchildren..and the worst part is children expect it…

this includes me as well…when I was pregnant with R, I was sure I wanted to work or rather lets accept it I had to continue working even after R was born for various reasons…so I asked my MIL to come and stay with me till R was an year old to  help me take care of her…MIL left everything – her house in Calcutta, my FIL, her friends, and came without any concerns and stayed and took care of R..what was in her mind, I dont know, but when I think back, I think what she did was great!

My mother used to be a teacher till an year ago so asking her to come was not possible and infact my mom was pretty clear that when you really need, I will come, but otherwise, I cant help out with your child full time…

I think what my MIL did was really really great and I will be forever grateful to her…whatever people say ‘ that R is her son’s daughter, its her duty to come’, she came because SHE wanted to…etc etc etc..I dont care, the bottom line is she left HER life for me and came…thats where her greatness lies!

Tomorrow if R has a kid (IF R wants a kid, if she gets married or even if she doesnt get married and even then wants a kid – you do get my drift dont you….basically

1. She can marry and have a kid

2. She can marry and NOT have a kid

3. She can just have a kid without marrying…

Sab options open hai from my side 🙂

Baap rey this is a big para within the brackets…)

I dont know if I will be there to take care of her child full time…I would rather pursue my hobbies…if its urgent and needed I will definitely help out but full time behind grandchildren..pata nahi…it doesnt make sense to me..

of course, one must remember that in India daycare facilities are pretty sad and the good ones are really expensive..but if most parents do start sending their children to daycares instead of expecting the grandparents to take care, I am sure it will make a difference

I started R with daycare when she was one….my MIL left just before her first birthday and I didnt feel bad about it…I could  understand her feelings of being bored all alone in a city where the language is alien (she speaks Bengali better than Hindi) where she was not allowed to go out alone (RD and I used to scared to send her in crowded trains, and buses) where there was no temple nearby, no friends, her husband far away…I could totally understand..

She did offer to take R with her to Calcutta and send her back every vacation,but both RD and I were very clear that if we give birth to a child, we would rather bring her up instead of keeping her away…and whats the point, MIL/FIL had already raised two children and finished up with their kid raising sessions!

I think we often take our parents for granted especially in India…again lemme give you my example…I had to go to London and I simply called my mom and asked her to come…she was supposed to go to Kerala with my dad for some work..she cancelled her tickets and came and stayed in Mumbai for me…

After I read CR’s post that day, I felt guilty..guilty about just taking her for granted, asking her to leave her work and come for me…while many of you may say she got to meet her granddaughter and she wanted to help, the bottomline is I was selfish..I didnt think twice before asking her to cancel her tickets! Isnt that wrong…isnt she entitled to a life she wants to lead?

tomorrow, will I do it for R? honestly, I dont know…I seriously dont know…

I often wonder why we have a very one sided view of being a grandparent….either they pray or they take care of the grandchildren…in my circle, I honestly dont know any grandparent who takes vacations, goes out with friends or even does simple things like taking up a hobby..infact the only people who remotely do something like this are my parents….my mom joined my dad in Goa when he took up a job there and now both of them are alone, getting up in the morning, sitting out in the veranda to have coffee together, throwing rice at the pigeons in the garden and then dad comes back home for lunch and then they go out for drives in the evening (Now as I write this down, they almost sound like a just married couple!)

anyways the point being, that they live their lives…of course, like I mentioned earlier, they do come and help out whenever bro or me ask them to…but overall they are living their own lives…and I think they are enjoying that..

My in laws also stay alone in Calcutta, but I dont think their lives are as enjoyable as my parents..but again to each his own..my MIL is happy in her prayers and FIL is happy watching TV..so there..I cant argue on that..

If I ever become a grandparent (no pressure on you R!) I would want to live my life..infact thats why like I mentioned in one of my earlier posts, I would rather live in an old age home…surrounded by people of my age, doing what I want, taking breaks when I want to, pursing the hobby which I wish..and then of course come and  help out R in times of need

Why is our social conditioning such that when a grandmom wants to paint her nails she is frowned upon or if she wears a sleeveless blouse she is sniggered at…why is it that when a grandfather wears a t shirt that says ‘young at heart’ he is laughed upon and when he expresses a desire to visit the Taj with his wife, he is reminded of his age…

Why cant we let the elderly be themselves..why do we as a society always judge them, their actions, expect them to behave in a certain way with a certain protocol..once you cross 50 you cant wear jeans or go to the parlour (I know of people who say that!) or that once you have a grand child you can stop colouring your hair or getting your eyebrows done!

Where is that written…why cant the grandpas and grandmas be young at heart..even if their body is physically getting old, its after a life they have to live after slogging for about 35 or 40 or 50 years of their life..dont they have a right to live their lives finally for themselves…I think they do…

Of course some grandparents do enjoy taking care of their grand children..for them thats the idea of fun..but has someone ever asked them if they really want to do it?

I think everyone is entitled to a fun life….even if they are 80 and not able to stay without a walking stick!


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57 Responses to What Does Growing Old Mean?

  1. Seema says:

    Agree on everything you wrote. When I read such posts from you, I wanna write on the same topic coz my mind runs through so many thoughts to jot down. My post on ‘Fasting’ (inspired by you) is still lying as a draft in my head… Will try to buck up!

  2. ARP says:

    Hi RM,

    I got your blog from a friend a few months ago and have been hooked on to it since. I always keep waiting for your next blog and thoroughly enjoy reading all your blogs.

    I am not a blogger, but you have inspired me to become a blog reader and now leave a comment on your blog. Seems like if I keep reading your blogs, maybe someday I will start blogging too.

    I totally agree with your views of not taking grandparents forgranted. The other day I had been to a park. I saw a lady dressed in a jogging suite, with headphones, jogging around the park. I loved her spirit, guess what except her grey hair and little girl who called her granny there was no trace of her age (which was well above 50). I wish we had many more granny’s and grand pa’s like her.

    • R's Mom says:

      Awww! thats so sweet of you…glad you liked the blog….

      you should start blogging…its so much fun..and I have found such wonderful friends..thanks to the blog 🙂

      Awesome that lady was na 🙂

  3. summerscript says:

    I made a comment here, but not sure if I pressed the post button.Delete this if you got the previous one pls.

    I have one relative who is grandma,takes care of grandkids.But she has a very cool gang of friends.They all make home made jewellery using beads and pearls and sell it. Every year the plan a trip a 10 day trip and right from scratch everythng is done by them. Each one takes care of one one department.My relative handles food and 4-5 friends come home , buy nice dabbas and make and pack food for all. Cool no?

    My mother feels shy to wear bright colors.But I always tell her to wear what she likes and not to worry much about others’ opinions.
    Desires, emotions and feelings all these things dont fade away with old age.My mother and myself we both are actor surya fans. She loves watching his movies as much as I do. We just need to understand and give them some time for themselves.

    • R's Mom says:

      Wow….thats such super fun….

      Yaa…even my mom feels awkward when I ask her to wear salwar kameezes and stuff…….your mom is a big Surya fan is it…how cute 🙂

  4. The Bride says:

    I’m pretty sure I don’t want to be looking after grandkids either but I was very grateful to my mum for helping out with mine after I delivered. I did not, however, expect her to do it. It’s difficult for my mum to leave the house in Bombay for long periods… in fact, my sis and I both had babies the same year and V asked me: “What if your mom goes to help your sis and not you?”. I said honestly, that I would be fine with it because I know my mum has a tough time leaving home and I have a helper while my sis does not and so needs my mum more.

    I also think that what your Mil did was great and not to be taken for granted.

    • R's Mom says:

      Thats pretty understanding of you rey…most ladies would consider it bad if their mothers refused to come!

      You have a super great helper na….thats one great thing *Anti jinx, thoo thoo, kala tikka to that*

  5. garima says:

    Oh ya i do agree that gradparents should not be burdened with the responsibilty of the grand kids.
    But there is a flip side to it.
    In some cases i have seen the mother is a working women and she leaves her kid in daycare so that her IL’s can spend the day the way they want (she also does that coz she does not want her kids to stay at home and watch the idiot box along with their ‘dadi’ rather in day care they will learn something and be with kids of their own age).
    Her IL’s feel that their dil is depriving them of the joy to look after the grandkids.She is accussed of not trusting them in bringing up the kids and relies more on the day care people.

    One compliacted situation this is…

  6. bikram says:

    Its the same everywhere we all know what happens in uk Canada etc kids invite their parents over just so they can save on the daycare and have a babysitter. And that is 99.99% of the time no mater who says what. Yes exceptions are there.

    I remember my grandparents and thw time spent.

    Not sure how I will react when my kids have kids wil I be able to support them who knows..

    But I would love to have the same relation I had with my grandparents.

  7. Both my MIL and my mum have been running a relay race between Chennai and Pune for a good part of my pregnancy so I get some rest 😐 Though I’ve been saying I can manage blah blah. I told my mum now itself that if I ever become a grandma, all I’ll do is gift one Johnson packet 😀

  8. Vidya says:

    A sensible post RM. Even i have similar post-retirement plans. vaisae-bhee, vyas has declined the responsibility of taking care of us when we grow old:| have not asked varun;) with both my children, i asked if my in-laws ‘want’ to take care. I had kept my options open to quit on both the occasions or trust the kids with a day-care.. they very much wanted to and they hurriedly communicated that they’d want me to continue working too- because that gives us both some space.. and we need that if we have to live under one roof:)

    • R's Mom says:

      Did I mention I love this Vyas guy…get him married to R vidya..my life is made then heheheh 🙂

      See…your in laws WANTED to take care…thats were the difference lies…some GPs do want to take care…my problem is when GPs are forced to take up child care and expected!

      • We live with the in-laws and my MIL takes offence if I suggest that we get a maid to look after my son/put him in daycare.I really appreciate her effort in looking after my son.But then when i hear her telling her friends/relatives on the phone that she cant visit them coz she has to look after her grandson, I wish that I could help in someway.She does not complain about looking after her grandchild, but I always feel a sense of obligation to her.So I end up being overworked over the weekends,trying to deal with the cooking, cleaning and taking care of the kid while I try to give her a break.

        • R's Mom says:

          Oh darling…thats pretty sad eh?

          I can understand you appreciating the MIL’s involvement with her grandson, but it does hurt na when she keeps harping on the fact that ‘she’ is giving away ‘time’ for her grandchild…honestly thats what bugs me…I mean if you are ready to keep a maid or keep your son at a daycare, why not agree to it….if you dont want to agree..please dont make an issue about it..

          I have a lady at work who is facing the same problem…her MIL takes care of her son and then makes an issue in front of all the relatives on how she is giving up her time for her grandson…I dont think thats right honestly!

          • no no she does not really complain to anybody. Just states it it when anybody invites her over.And it is true na? She cant plan her weekdays like she would have been able to earlier before I had my son.My sense of obligation is not because she complains, but bcoz I know that she needs a break too from the daily mundane life.(she loves going out and visiting people)

            • R's Mom says:

              Well….I guess I mis understood that she was complaining..but BC..honestly dont you think its not really right…I mean I really respect her for doing it..but then if you are giving an option she should take it up na?

              • hehehehe…if only life was that easy.I could write one long post on my MILs stubbornness. We do not have a maid in the house to do the cleaning ,forget about having a maid to look after the child.She does not use the washing machine because it uses too much water.If I put my foot down and insist that i put my son in daycare, I am sure the whole family will get nagged about it forever.She likes to complicate her life, so all I can do is try and help as much as possible over the weekends.Like I said, she has offered to do it voluntarily, but I still feel guilty coz i think it adds to her workload.

  9. Utter nonsense! If you ever say you are pale in comparison I will fill up your comment space with gaalis. 😐

    About the post-
    I think all grandparents are gaga for grandchildren irrespective of which country they belong to. My friend’s son has a British set of grandparents and a Chinese set fighting over him 😀
    My point is that some grans are exploited just because they don’t complain. A couple of years ago, there was a a contemplation of passing some law here that if grans provide child care, they should be paid for it. I don’t know what happened to that piece of news, can’t find updates 😐

    Irrespective of age, our society needs to let adults live the way they want as long as they are not hurting others. When will this non-interference kick in I have no clue!

    • R's Mom says:

      heheheheh on the first line…you are good CR..very very good!

      I so agree about the exploitation bit…at some point during my London trip..even I did that! thanks for your post, I know my mom’s value even more 🙂

  10. You hit the nail on the head with this post, RM
    I really can’t express how much of guilt I had when my mom had to come all alone to the US, also bargaining for more than her stipulated leave. The fact that her support and care could never be replaced by others is a different matter all together! 😀 She was there for 3 and a half months and after that, it was only me and the CH. My in-laws were willing to come but it was winter time and we really didn’t want to make it difficult for them, although I knew that they felt offended when we rejected their help. But then, our genuine intention was to not trouble them.
    My parents are like yours, RM. My mom and dad are already contemplating some kind of a ‘World Tour’ after my mom retires next year. They visit us/we visit them once in every two/three months, they have a gala time with their grandchildren while the husband and me get some ‘us’ and ‘me’ time and then life returns to normalcy.
    And I think I will be happy to tread my parents’ footsteps only!

    • R's Mom says:

      Your parents are cute’ world tour’ and all eh?

      my dad wants to take my mom on his motorcycle for an India tour…the only problem ‘he has slipdisc’ hehehe 🙂

  11. dipali says:

    Loved this post! I honestly don’t see myself leaving my own life for long to look after my (as yet non-existent) grandkids, but you never know what Life hands out to you! Right now the spouse and I are in the same position as your parents, (but not in beautiful Goa), with the youngest kid in a local hostel, visiting us mostly once a week. It’s a great phase to be in, and I’m personally enjoying every minute of it.You know, I think we are all territorial creatures, and crave our own surroundings after an absence from home. As for clothes, I am happily ‘bindaas’, wear bright colours, sarees, salwar kameez, jeans, trousers, capri pants and even the occasional skirt( a little self consciously, I admit) despite being plump. I love visiting my kids, but miss being home too:)

  12. Smitha says:

    Totally agree with what you say, RM! My parents did come during my delivery – for 2 months, but I never, ever expected them to leave everything and help me out. Infact, now that they are retired, it is impossible for them to leave their home, and I would not want them to give up their lives for me. I went back to work when Poohi was 5.5 months old, and we decided to put her in a day care because it made sense for us. Asking parents or in-laws to come and stay here and look after her, did not make sense to me. And we had good day cares here, made my decision easier, to be honest. I think it is even worse when we make parents come abroad – because they are not always comfortable living in a different environment.

    Having no expectations from parents and children, is the best way to be. I would love to be independent as far as I can, and when there is no option, then find a great old age home, and spend the twilight of my life with others like me 🙂

    • R's Mom says:

      See..coming for a couple of months to help out with the baby is pretty okie rey…I think all parents would do that…so would I…..

      and l loved your last para 🙂

  13. kirti says:

    Most of the times GP’s love to help their children and are willing to particiapte in raising their newly born grandkids. Ofcourse the young parents should have a feeling of gratitude for this because raising kids is afterall their responsibility .
    But with advancing age , failing reflexes , grand kids growing in age it becomes difficult for GP’s to keep pace with the grandkids’ challening and increasing needs for supervision , guidance ….
    Expecting parents to leave aside their lives and bail out children is charecteristically ‘indian children’s mindset’ and even our parents are to a great extent indoctrinated to make sacrifices for their children even though they are matured adults.
    I also know the other side of the story where GP’s were little too keen to help out and obligate the son and DIL so that they could take the leverage out of this situation and run the lives of their son and DIL .
    Even I plead guilty on expecting my parents to come over and help me when my second son was born and after about three months when they were to leave I was secretly grudging that why could not they stay longer.

    • R's Mom says:

      Arey we all would love to have our parents around….there is nothing wrong with that rey…its just that expecting them to sit and take care of our kids as if they dont have anything better to do in life is where the problem lies

      I so agree about what you say about the ‘Indian mentality’

  14. Rajani says:

    Wat a post!… you really did come back with abang didnt u? … 🙂

    Yes, I am also one of them who did get help from grandparents. My amma had come during the time of my second delivery, thats when I was working. First delivery, I was home itself. Even then MIL came to help so that was good. But the second delivery was more tough coz of work and also to take care of the first child. My amma came and she stayed for almost 1 or 2 yrs (on and off).. had gone thru a few other hardships too.. but I keep telling everyone one that I don’t know how I would have pulledit off if my amma wasn’t there… She was concerned about my Achan… coz he was all the way in India and we are in US… and missed a lot.. but she did it all only for her grand kids.. and me… and I will be always grateful for her… but now finally she is home with achan and taking care of things there.. and enjoying the peace and quiet… until my bro and sis-in-law decides to have a baby… 😀 …

    As far as, will I do it formy kids?.. I am with you on that RM… I am not sure… I seriously doubt it… 😀

    • R's Mom says:

      Thanks 🙂

      your mom’s so sweet yaar…see there was probs and they came to help which is fine..and as long as we acknowledge that its okie…my problem is when people just take their parents for granted!

  15. RS says:

    OK, i’ve already written about this and all but about g’parents taking care- atleast in our case, we dont rely on them everyday-but like you said – they are available when we really need them and thats a huge relief! Taking care of a couple hours/taking them out to play – is all fine but ‘thopu fying’ our kids on our parents is not a good idea.

    My MIL in the initial days of marriage, when we werent even thinking about kids, said 1 thing “Plz dont expect us to take care of your children. We have slogged all our lives for all these years and now is our time to go out and enjoy what we really want to…” It did hurt at that point but looking back I respect the fact that she was clear with her intentions and I do agree 100% with her now!

    I wouldnt be a typical grandmom myself either – I think! Though all grandparents love their grand children more than the children itself!

  16. Ashwathy says:

    We as a race, judge everyone. We judge kids for being precocious, teenagers for being scandalous, young adults for being rebellious….and the old for trying to be young or individualistic. It’s all part of the game. But of course whether you want to listen to it is a different thing altogether. I for one, don’t care two hoots.

  17. Completely agree with your point, sometimes I get crazy between work and home and wished if mom were around, but when I think from their point of view they are very happy in their village and farm they are managing. So its selfish to ask them come and stay with us. I will go on as long as I can and when I can’t I will quit, that’s my new slogan 🙂

  18. anisnest says:

    good one..I have similar retirement plans too RM.. yeah that’s the point.. why don’t we let the GPs do what they like? My mom is a typical case where she enjoys the time with grand kids but will look for her own space.. she is having so much fun back home now.. sometimes when I call she says she is busier than me.. visiting all close-by temples and making her own friends.. these ladies are going on day trips too to visit temples in other towns.. my mom always says that she has to live in her own house and we (me and bro) can go and stay with her when we need a break..

  19. telugumom says:

    Very nice blog! Have been meaning to read it from a long time and finally made it here 🙂

    I do agree about your post. If the grandparents do not want to do it, they should not be forced to. They should be able to enjoy their retired life.

  20. smartassbride says:

    you know, in my extended family, in some cases, this has led to resentment as well! The grandparents feel thankless after years of raising the grand kid. And they have this bad feeling of having wasted a lot of their time and energy for such a thankless job.

    a year ago, my mom said she’ll be more than willing to keep my kid and raise her/him for a few years because i’ll keep moving, but my stand is the same as yours! i told them to go get a third kid, i wont give mine 😛

  21. Scribby says:

    all that you’ve written and that too so honestly,me likes! how true is that….tomorrow even I don’t know if I would want to or would be able to cater to my grandchildren…on second thoughts would our grandchildren even need us in the same way that we needed them ? hmm….that time in future is too far right now…

    but coming back to today…today my baby is being taken care of by my MIL..now I’m a full time mother and have no intentions to work in near future…but my MIL insists on me to look out for a job,giving arguments like now that C is 7 months young and that I can step out etc etc……even when I’m around the entire day she insists on keeping C with her …I’m needed to only feed her and look after her for sometime when MIL needs a break-read: bathroom breaks 😉 Though sometimes I feel she gets tired handling the kid for the entire day and I try to keep C with me for at least 2-3 hours ,she rejects the idea!

    so there…grandparents are conditioned to take care of their grandchildren is what I’ve experienced ..she goes gaga over spending time with C and boasts with pride when she tells about certain things to visitors about her…registering the fact that she knows everything about C 🙂 and honestly I don’t mind as long as I’m not burdening the MIL with C’s responsibility and she is happy doing what is she is doing,I’m okay!

    but you’re right..there are people who literally exploit their parents when in need,which in my opinion is wrong but again this mindset dates back to history in our society..as you rightly mentioned in our country the day care system is not so popular and may be that’s why…earlier there were joint families and hence there was no need for day cares…now that we’re more into nuclear family set-ups these facilities has a need…

    • R's Mom says:

      Oh when my MIL was taking care of R till she was an year, mera bhi wohi case tha…MIL knew EVERYTHING about R and infact we used to fight that I wanted her to take a break once I get back from work but she would insist on doing everything for R…

      Its in our mindsets..thats so true Scribby!

      Kala tikka on you, Chirpy and your MIL 🙂

  22. Zephyr says:

    I am one lucky MIL, because my DIL feels that grandparents are supposed to have fun with the child and are not babysitters. So when we visit or she visits, we get all the time with our granddaughter and we eat whatever anyone cooks or get food ordered out. isn’t that swell? She quit working to take care of her daughter even thought her mother and I offered to babysit for her. and now I am trying to make her go back to work — because she has such a brilliant mind!
    I am not sure about her parents, but we would like to have our freedom of movement and activity and are contemplating some good retirement community once the L&M retires from active work. Distance is the key to good relationships, I feel.

  23. Sumana says:

    Loved the post R. Yes it is apt when the GP’s are forced into the child care situation. Mine was a similar situation like what Garima has mentioned. I just put my foot down and said that he will be in day care for atleast 2-3 hours a day. ILs do pet the kids a lot, am fine with it to a point and when it goes overboard, you know how it feels. You tell the kids to behave in a particular way say for ex: Keep the plate in the sink after you are done (to a four year old), the MIL will do the opposite, she will go over to the sofa where the kid watches the idiot box and collect the plate. At those times, i pray god hard that I myself should never turn into a grandma like that. You feel so so irritated.

    • R's Mom says:

      AWww! Sumana, I can so sympathize with you…it happens at my house as well…when the in laws are around, RD does nothing..so its not only the GPs…all mothers spoil their kids 😉

      Me and MIL have major fights on this one….about her not letting RD do anything and then it gets crazy 😉

  24. Pingback: Old Age – Glee or Gloom? « Anecdotes of Two-riffic Twins

  25. Aliu olalekan says:

    life is more than how old you are.is about how grown you are in all facets of life

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