Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Someone to help blow out the candles

Tasha Kheiriddin:
But a word to the childless: These are also snapshots of the future. There will come a time when Zara makes her own way in the world and I can once again read the Saturday paper in bed.

And then, decades later I hope, will come a time when I have trouble leaving my bed at all. Aging is not pretty or dignified; one day I – like my toddler today – may not be able to hold a spoon or stay continent. And who will be there when that happens?

Of course, you can always pay someone to care for you, and the childless will crow that they will be able to do so, having not spent their savings on their kids’ college education. But nursing home attendants, attentive though they may be, are not family. They are not bound by ties of blood, memory, and love.

While having children does not guarantee their presence in your old age, not having them makes their absence a certainty. My father’s struggle with dementia, still in its early stages, makes me realize how precious family ties are. He delights in the antics of his granddaughter. He revisits his own youth and retells stories of when he was a child. Like Mandela, his eyes light up, sparked by the presence of new life, and love.

Who will blow out the candles on my cake when I no longer can? Hopefully, my daughter, or her children. I can’t think of a better way to spend a birthday — now, or then.

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Storm Bunny said...

What a distasteful article! Isn't it worse for the elderly to know that they are in a retirement home, because they have a family to which they have devoted their lives, for which they have made sacrifices, and whom in return want nothing to do with them? A childfree person, growing old, needing a retirement home won't miss a family they never had, but will probably welcome the chance to meet new people.

If peer pressure is too great, we will always be able to come up with a story like "oh, my children want nothing to do with me". Will anyone question us any further. Yes, nurses and caretakers are no family, they are paid to take care of us, and so they do. No need for favors, or pleading for them to please take five minutes of their time to take care of the elderly.

L.T. said...

I think it is both distasteful and poorly thought out. Are you to squander the active years of your life on children you don't want and won't enjoy just so you'll possibly have them when you're enfeebled? I'd rather enjoy the countless decades beforehand to the best of my ability, and perhaps (or perhaps not) pay the price during those few years at the end.

I think these folks can't really reason out the exchange because they cannot fathom the idea that we would not enjoy being parents. They just can't understand that not everyone likes the things they like.

sara star said...

I know a good number of elderly folks with no children, they have loving nephews and nieces and other young people they connected with at a young age.

If you aren't sitting around being bitter about your kids who never visit, perhaps you will reach out more to those who are there for you, caretakers, other elderly folks, etc. Also you will probably have less health problems and stay in better shape if you don't have kids and multiple pregnancies.

Anonymous said...

So, basically she views her child as an insurance policy. And we the childfree are told that we're the selfish ones!