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It was 7 February 2016, Sunday, the first day of my maternity leave. The baby was due on 16 Feb. I got up at 6:00 AM and went to nearby park for morning walk, as advised by my doctor. An old lady, wearing tracks and shoes, entered the park. There was an elegance on her face; I couldn't take my eyes off her. After few minutes of walking, her husband joined her. Both of them then settled on a bench. The routine continued for a week.
On Valentine's day, the lady came at her usual time with her usual smile, but with a red rose in her hand. I decided to talk to her. Talking to her was so heartening. She was graceful, content, enlightened and so full of life.
She told that she retired few years back. "Life must be boring and dull after retirement" was my reaction. To which, she replied, "Not at all !! I am a busy person. I take care of my grand children, while my son and daughter-in-law go for work. My grandson is just 1.5 Years and granddaughter is five. I got this rose from my little princess today." She seemed excited.
" Oh, baby sitting...must be taxing at this age !!", I blurted without thinking much.
" No. I am not baby sitting. I am taking care of my grand children and I am getting all the love and care, in return, not only from the little ones but all my family members. My family value and respect me. Yes, it is tiring sometimes. But, my husband is there to help. We have domestic help as well. Besides, I love to spend time with kids." She responded.
" Sorry, I didn't mean to offend you." I said.
She replied generously, " That's fine."
" What are your hobbies?" I inquired.
She exclaimed, " Travelling, socializing, cooking and taking care of my family, of course !"
I asked curiously, " Do you find time for all this?"
" See, family, particularly the little ones are my priority. But, Yes, I do find some time for my hobbies, with the support of my family. My daughter-in law ensures that I and my husband, go for an yearly trip, to some part of India. I, also, go to Canada, to my daughter every year for 3 weeks. We manage weekend family trips often. I have my kitty party group. We, ladies, enjoy our parties twice a month. Either my son or daughter in law, takes day off or work from home, on my party days, to take care of kids. Me and my husband have joined senior citizen club, we spend time there on weekends. For the cooking part, my daughter sends new recipes links to me on whatsapp. I experiment in kitchen, my daughter in law helps happily."
" So, you are enjoying second inning of your life.", I remarked as I was also feeling excited now.
" For sure. As my family, doesn't consider me just a baby sitter !!"
" I am sorry, Aunty, for hurting you." I touched her feet. She hugged me and showered her blessings !
Retirement is not the end, it is a new beginning. It is the second inning of life, which should be enjoyed to the fullest. And this is possible, or at least easier, with the support of family members only. Children should not see their aging parents as baby sitter only. They deserve all the love, care, respect, value and 'time for self'. Through out their life, they have been running to provide for the family needs; now they need some rest. If they agree to take care of your children and the house, value them and provide them all physical and emotional support. They do it out of love, they are not baby sitters !!
PS: The story above is a work of fiction.