Friday, 16 September 2016

MIDLIFE ROCKS! ~ A Hiatus in Care-Giving

MIDLIFE ROCKS! ~ having a break in between caring for your children and then caring for your parents

A LOVELY HIATUS

I know that there are a lot of midlife women out there who are still caring for little children or for teenagers, and there are others who have the responsibility of aged parents who need extra time, attention and a whole lot of care. But for my husband and myself, we are in a very pleasant stage of hiatus where our children have left our care and are doing well, and our parents are still managing to be self-sufficient (most of the time!)

CHILDREN AND TEENAGERS

When you have young children at home, your world revolves around them - sleep times, play times, doctors visits, starting school, after school activities, holidays during term breaks, and the list goes on. When they reach teenage-dom the list just keeps growing because you add in all the worry about their safety and who their friends are, teaching them to drive, worrying about them when they're driving themselves or out at night. 

It feels like your whole life is on hold when you are a parent. I'm sure there are plenty of people who'd disagree with that statement, but for me it felt like my time and attention was hugely influenced by the needs of our children. They were a top priority - I chose my jobs around school hours, I was friends with the mothers of their friends and I spent a lot of time taxi-ing them around to various activities.

ABSENCE MAKES THE HEART GROW FONDER

Now that they have left home and made their own lives, I am grateful for an occasional phone call and an even rarer visit. There are pros and cons to them living a couple of hours away in the city. We miss seeing them every week, but the bonus is we aren't at their beck and call when little things go wrong. They manage to sort it out and we only need to  be available for the more major upheavals.


Happiness is having a large, loving, caring, close-knit family in another city

THE OTHER END OF THE SPECTRUM

The other end of life's spectrum comes as our parents start to take the place of our children. They get older and as their health and mobility decrease, so their needs increase. I know many people who have parents who are completely dependent on them, whether it's from age and incapacity or from Alzheimers or from loneliness, they are still taking a lot of time and attention.

We are fortunate in the fact that my Mum is still robust and busy having a great life. She travels and socializes and even has a younger lover to keep her busy. She would be mortified to think that she needed me to care for her, but at the same time, when she needed a knee replacement last year, we were there for her and took her in full time until she was fit enough to go home. The experience gave me great admiration for those who do this sort of thing all the time.

My husband's parents are just reaching the frail aged stage where they are needing more support. They are pretty self sufficient most of the time and so for us, this is the moment in the sun where we can enjoy having no dependents (other than our two cats!) and we have the freedom to only worry about ourselves. We can come and go whenever it suits us and not worry about children or parents who couldn't cope without us.

ENJOYING THE INTERIM

I know that this will change in the years to come and there will be a chunk of time where we are back to care-giving and our time won't be our own. For now though it is lovely having this hiatus where we can enjoy our adult children from a distance, spend short periods of time with our parents, and have the rest left over to spend on whatever we feel like - a true blessing of this stage of life.

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MIDLIFE ROCKS! ~ having a break in between caring for your children and then caring for your parents

17 comments:

  1. Thanks for this post. I guess I'm moving out of the mid-life area now. No more parents to care for, and kids all independent living in different cities (and the eldest half-way across the world.) I had the dreaded knee replacement last year, and was extremely grateful to have a useful husband who acted as care giver. Two weeks later, I had to have my gallbladder removed. Again, my male caregiver came up trumps. It's good to know we are still capable of looking after each other!

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    1. It's lovely to have a husband to be there for us when we need them. My dad was in care with dementia so he wasn't any help at all for my mum - she was very grateful to have us care for her - but we were all happy for her to go home at the end of it!

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  2. Enjoy this time, for all too quickly it will end...it will be the parents and then grand kids! But it will all be fine and in the end you will wish you had more time with all of them...

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    1. I know Renee - it's a hiatus only - a moment in the sun where nobody is needing us for anything long term (even the grandbaby is too far away to need us regularly)

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  3. My father was incredibly healthy. Then he had a major stroke and died five days later. i've always felt "good" about that as he would have made the worst stroke patient--having no patience and being brilliant.
    It was a bit different for my mother who had the first case of macular degeneration we had ever heard of. People treated her as if she were demented---we realized even then macular scared them---when she too was incredibly bright. My mother didn't need a caretaker (might have been easier). She needed a social director. I was in my 40's---prime of my life---and needed my life. We worked it out. I don't miss her every day anymore. Just this time of year, when my need for her is immense. But I know I will get through the mourning season so...
    pia
    https://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/odd-girl-in/201309/the-dark-side-nld

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    1. It's so tough when our parents are gone - I wasn't close to my dad, so his passing wasn't particularly painful, but I know when my mum dies there will be a gaping hole in my life. I am so sorry for your loss Pia x

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  4. I am right smack dab in the middle of this. My kids have graduated college and have embarked on their careers. For the most part they "sort everything out" by themselves. My mom needs more help these days. Definitely a new season of life.

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    1. It's an interesting interim stage where you leave one lot of care-giving behind and then the next one starts. I'm making the most of this brief time before we are running around after my in-laws!

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  5. Life is full of these little transitions. That's something we don't think about when we are young. Come to think of it, they aren't very little, either!
    Carol Cassara

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    1. I know Carol - I had never considered the fact that I'd be running around after the old folk instead of the children one day - life certainly has its cycles and surprises!

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  6. My parents are gone and my kids are independent. Sometimes I have to care give my sig other because he has a condition, but right now just two little dogs.

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    1. Sometimes I think two little dogs need more caretaking than two little children Rebecca - so you're part of this whole caregiving cycle too :)

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  7. Care givers are the most wonderful people in the world. Most families are too busy to give care these days. I hope we can be independent for a long time yet and then if needed I would hope there is a facility to help us.

    Kathleen
    Bloggers Pit Stop

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    1. I hope we can be too Kathleen - I hope for a long and full life where our children don't have to become our carers and we can look after each other until the end.

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  8. I miss being a full time mom but am so very proud that my children have it together. My lit'l sis was the caregiver to my parents and as I watched I thought she should be sainted.. My goal is to live to be 100 and be as active as I can be all of those years so as not to be too much of a burden on my children. Here's to long, full, productive, active lives!

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    1. Couldn't say it better myself! I want exactly what you've described - probably because I know I don't have the patience needed to care for the elderly - and so I don't want to foist that onto my own children. Hale and hearty all the way!

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  9. It's so good to be mindful of the blessings of each stage of life! I'm so glad for your well-earned hiatus. ;)

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