Independence is my middle name

She does not think tradition or social mores or even the children's own stated desires should influence a mother's decision on where she lives

Zephyr aka Cybernag | Posted on 28 Apr 2017
Dealing with In-laws and other family dynamics in India
Would I live with my children in my old age?

Would I live with my children in my old age? You are kidding me, right? I mean, with a name like Cybernag and a reputation to match, can it even be contemplated?

Not just the nagging. What about my sleep schedule? I start the day when the kids are just going to bed; I wake up five times at night to make the trip to the bathroom. I’d like to believe I am as young as a teen but the damned body doesn’t play ball! While making the morning cuppa, if a spoon clatters to the ground, it can’t be helped, can it? What does one do to mute the sounds as one plays devotional songs or does kapal bhati? And the food: I tell the kids, “Don’t worry about me, I will eat what you do. ”I love it all too - from pav bhaji to pasta, to waffles and momos. But a few meals later my stomach whines for rasam and curd rice. The spirit is willing but the stomach is weak, you see!

Jokes apart, there are some points that I would like to share here about getting older and the changes that accompany the process – both physical and emotional.

With vastly different routines and sometimes lifestyles – especially if they have had separate homes – it is impractical to expect two generations to live under one roof. Add to this the cramped urban spaces and lack of time, and the members literally get in each other’s way, and soon begin getting on each other’s nerves.

In times when even normal parental concern can be seen as interference and causing stress, it is important to learn to let go of adult children to live their own lives, offering advice or suggestions only when asked.

When financial constraints require them to live under the same roof, the onus falls mostly on the elders to make the major adjustments needed for harmonious living. It should be left to individual families to work out the best solution of elder care. Pandering to societal norms, parental expectations, or even the wish of the children could be disastrous. 

I firmly believe that relationships, like plants, flourish best when there is some space for them to breathe and grow.

That said, it is important for people to develop and sustain some hobby or activity even while in their youth or middle age, so that it is easy to keep themselves occupied physically, mentally and spiritually as they age. When parents begin to look to their children and grandchildren for emotional sustenance, making them the sole focus of their attention, the problem begins: the youngsters feel suffocated, while the elders feel rejected. This is one thing that can be blamed solely on the elders.

As for me, Independence is my middle name and so I would like to be independent as long as I am able. I lost vision in one eye about a decade ago, after battling to save it, making ‘pilgrimages’ to all major eye hospitals in the country for years. With the vision in the other eye not being too good either, I still wouldn’t allow my family to become overprotective orto restrict my movements. I had undertaken international travel alone, at a time when I had to use a magnifying glass to read even large print. I must say that I have managed pretty well, working around the issue and taking assistance whenever I need it.

Of course I love spending time with my children and their families, and cherish my time with my granddaughter, but I like having my own place, routine, activities and space. This is not to say that I will not be there if my children need my help at any given time, which would require my living with them while they need me. I also try to follow most of the points I have discussed above, so that makes it easier for me. I am blessed with a variety of interests, including writing and reading spiritual texts. And there is my chanting and prayers.

What if I become too frail and need care, you ask? Let me quote from one of my posts on the series on elders and their problems, which I have written on my blog: “…when I am not able to take care of myself, I will try to find a good carehome and not burden my children.”

The author wishes to stress: This post is NOT about in-laws, which traditionally refers to the parents of the boy, but parents of both sexes. Today there are many parents of girls who don't want to live with their child too. I speak for all of the parents here.

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