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A whatsapp message forwarded by my mother in law got the ball rolling for me into writing this blog . The forward was about the sacrifices a mother makes in her life time for her children and how she needs to be taken care of in her old age . A beautiful message .... very profound .... deep in meaning ...but somewhere it tugged my heart and pulled a string of what I may call guilt. Are we not doing enough ... ? Because if we are we don't need such reminders of our duties and responsibilities.
Today the media ... be it whatsapp or facebook or the countless other platforms of public expression are flooded with messages either on how to be the best parents in the world or how to take care of ageing parents .
Often after reading such messages we find ourselves wondering if we are doing the right things , spending quality time and speaking the right words to our children . A child's misbehaviour or academic slack is invariably attributed to faulty parenting . Working mothers live in the perennial guilt of not spending quality time with their children ,trading the joys of being a doting mother to actually building a rewarding career.
As children of our old and ageing parents time and again we are reminded by the wise and know all on how it is our turn to take care of them . Our parents sacrificed their lives for us and now it is our turn to do it for them .
If we don't call them or speak to them on a daily basis we become the selfish villains condemning the old and needy to fend for themselves . Not having the patience to listen to their complaints or woes is often looked upon as impudence of the highest order.
Most of us born between 70's - 80's are going through this phase where perennially we are torn between the responsibilities of attending to our children and parents in addition to the ever increasing pressures from work and running the household . On one side there is pull from the young and energetic and on the other there is a push from the old and dependant .Well thats what I guess is called the midlife crisis .
I would like to complement the pundits who preach on these platforms on successfully igniting the guilt factor in us .... into pushing us into the endless pit of overthinking and over pleasing our children and parents alike . I would like to complement them into making us believe that thinking about ourselves even if occasionally is an act of pure selfishness .
I wish there were few who could write about the predicament that we in midlife go through on a daily basis .
I grew up in a small town . Most of my family, if not all resided in the same town . We had grandparents , their siblings , uncles ,aunts and countless cousins and not only that we had the liberty of running down the streets to our neighbouring aunties and uncles and friends whenever we wanted .Our doting masis and mamas ,Buas and chachas would enthusiastically babysit us when our parents had important errands to run or a movie to catch up on . We would actually force our parents to go out so we could spend sometime doing things independently , watching movies and laughing our hearts out with our cousins and friends . I wonder if our parents ever felt guilty about raising us inadequately .Did we ever feel abandoned? Our uncles and aunts , cousins and friends were our confidantes and counselors . There was always someone to lend a listening ear or remove the mist from our clouded minds.
The old had enough company of their own . They had extended families of brothers and sisters ,ageing together and being empaths to each other . Moreover most if not all had a number of children . The responsibility of ageing parents was not divided but shared . There were always marriages to attend or childbirth to celebrated .I remember my uncles and aunts taking turns to take care of the old and needy and they did that with happiness without ever feeling burdened . There were people all around to give company in the difficult times . When my grandfather had to be hospitalised ,I remember food came from unknown sources and there was always a reliever for the last attendant .
Yes today there is Facebook and whatsapp to remind us of our duties and responsibilities but do we have the much needed support system of extended families and friends ??
Yes we need to take care of our ageing parents and growing kids but does that not require taking care of ourselves too ??
Yes we need to talk to our parents and understand their health issues but is it wrong if at times they ask us if things are fine at work ?
Yes our children need to be given all our love and attention but is it wrong to just spend some silent time to declutter the over engaged mind ?
I wish someone could write about how we , the middle aged often struggle to strike the right balance between securing the future for our kids and ensuring that our parents get the best possible medical aids if needed . If at times we are silent or not available .... it doesn't mean we don't care or are shirking from our responsibilities ... it's just that sometime we need to withdraw into our shells to recharge and to refresh .
Our generation is growing old without extended families ,neighbours or caring friends ... compounded by work demands that never seem to recede .. that doesn't mean we don't have a sense of responsibility towards our parents and children ...we do .... but yes we do need some understanding and some patience and a little faith in our sincerity .
We are the so called " sandwich generation " and though we experience the stress , financial burden and occasional burnout we are proud of the work we are doing and feel a great sense of self worth and accomplishment when providing for our loved ones.