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Moving with the times

The new rules of generational transitions are here. We need to follow them.

Once upon a time I was 25 years old, married and teaching in a reputed school in a metropolitan city. My spouse and I decided to have a child, and so it happened! We were delighted, but then with time the added work that went along with bringing up a child became quite challenging. A lot of hard work, more responsibilities, decline in personal time and reduced two-someness did hit us very hard. It was demanding and rewarding at the same time.

My maternity leave of three months was over; I was looking forward to going back to work. My students, my school, my teaching — the satisfaction, the joy and the money that came with it were very welcome. My husband was proud of my achievements. Both had gratifying careers.

Different options

Who will take care of the child? We tried all options: we employed a lady who would stay with us and take care of the child while we were at work, we looked for relatives from our hometowns who would join us, and then the creches too. Every option had pros and cons. My son did go to a creche for a year and more. Those days were very difficult!

After 32 years, I now wonder! How did I let a maid take care of my son, how did I put him in a creche, did I not love him enough, wasn’t it selfish of me to put my career ahead of child-rearing? These questions were discussed and debated for hours on end at home, in school and within the family circle.

The need then

I loved my child as much as every other mother. Sending the baby to the creche at that time seemed the need of the hour. I needed a child and a career! So that was a compromise, was it? It was the best option. He was looked after by caring hands away from home. He was sent out of the house as young as one year. There were many others who went through the same ordeal. Many of us did the same — left our little ones under the care of outsiders who did an admirable job. This change happened gradually. My child had friends to play with, he learnt to be independent, and he grew up trusting people. The child care centre had its positives. I did feel guilty at times but he did grow up well and looking back I have no regrets!

New roles

At 58 years of age, my thoughts are similar in a sense; only the roles have changed. It was the creche then; it’s senior care now. Old age homes seem an uncaring, painful, lonely, sorrowful and deserted proposition. Does it have to be so? After years of running around, isn’t it normal to want to just let time pass by? Isn’t it good to read what you wish to? Isn’t the company of like-minded persons a requirement? The age-old idea of Vanaprasthashrama with some modifications is the need of the times.

On different planes

My son loves me and cares for me; there isn’t a second thought about it. But then he cannot meet my requirements. We are on different planes altogether. I wish to sit and chat about the good old days for hours; he is hard-pressed for time. I want to watch the news on television; he needs to watch something entertaining! Two rooms or two TV sets is a solution, is it? I wish to go out on a weekday he has to go to work. I want to watch a serious movie in a hall; he thinks it can be done at home as well. I wish to have no responsibility but then my grandchild demands my attention. There is a lot more on the list….

Different needs

My wants at this age are very few. The quiet and peace I seek along with some company is certainly possible in an old age home. I wish to be living comfortably, happily and on my terms. Isn’t this every senior citizen’s need? I wish to be a loving part of my son’s family and ensure either of us makes no change in our lifestyle. With changing times life is demanding for today’s youngsters. They work hard, work longer hours, party harder, spend more and live very differently than how we did.

Just a business proposition

I wish there will be no stigma attached to these centres. It shall be a business proposition as creches are. There will be fleeting moments of pain as it does when the child is sent to a creche.

I wish for senior care centres for all pockets and needs. Love is letting everyone grow. Let us live our way and let them live their way. A paradigm shift in our thinking is required!

raghunath.sabitha@gmail.com

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Printable version | Mar 29, 2020 12:47:50 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/opinion/open-page/Moving-with-the-times/article14558799.ece

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