Life Without Baby

Filling the silence in the motherhood discussion

Caring For Aging Parents November 11, 2010

Living so far away from my mother (6,000 miles) I spend a fair amount of time worrying about what’s going to happen to her when she gets old.


My mother is 78 (I’m sure she won’t mind me telling you) but she still rides her bike, runs, dances, and practices Tai Chi. But I can see her slowing down and I know she’s not going to live forever.


My brothers and I have discussed this. We acknowledge that minor emergencies and issues will continue to fall to my middle brother, who lives the closest to my mum—about 8 miles. My older brother will most likely take care of anything that needs organizing, should my mum need more long-term care. As for me, I live too far away to do much at all. But I don’t want to regret not being there when my mother needed me, so Jose and I have discussed the possibility of me spending large chunks of time with my mother as she ages. My work will allow me to do that, as will my very understanding husband, and of course, I don’t have children to take care of, so I have that flexibility.


I’m fortunate to have brothers who don’t squabble about who will take care of our mother, but I have friends who don’t have that relationship, and it seems that the responsibility often falls to one sibling, and quite often it’s the one who doesn’t have children.


I’m wondering… do you feel that your childless/childfree status will enable you to be there as your parents age, or does it just mean that your family will expect you to carry the load because you have “no other responsibilities?”


3 Responses to “Caring For Aging Parents”

  1. mina Says:

    I’m not sure… i have to admit it scares me that i should feel (or be made to feel) that i have to “be there” because i’m childless. I know that sounds real selfish… it’s just a dilemma. My dad is 76 and lives 100 km from me. He has been ageing rapidly over the last 1,2 years. He lives alone and seems to manage ok so far but i know that the time is not far away when he will need more help. Right now what he needs is to meet with us a lot since he feels lonely and this tends to fall to my sister who lives in the same town (and she has been complaining about it. She has no kids either). I try to phone him at least once a week but i have to admit sometimes i don’t even manage that. My life is just too full, the days fly by, and it’s easily a second week gone until i call him. so since now my life is kind of at a crossroads, i have been seriously considering moving back to my hometown – dad being one major reason. Which then makes me think that i have a right to “my own life” – and that there would be no question about that at all if i had kids. It would be completely different. My mum is much younger and lives with a partner, she has a very active life and won’t need help for many years. But she has her moments, too, when she complains about lack of family life or interest in it coming from me.
    Sometimes i feel that if i had children the roles would be reversed. The question would probably mainly be, how often do the kids get to see granddad/grandmother. My mum would get into her (old) role as “helper” to me, the “young” mother. My dad would maybe understand that it’s not possible for me (and the hypthetical kids and husband) to come to see him but be happy to meet me where i live most of the time as long has he is able to.
    So i already feel a lot of expectations and even pressure coming from them since i live without children and i think if i had children, it would be different. So thinking about moving back to my hometown is somehow reasonable since dad is getting older. But i don’t feel good about it. which would be a reason not to do it. Can you see the dilemma?

  2. Mali Says:

    I think this role falls to daughters more than sons. I have two sisters, and so far we all shared caring for our mother and visiting as our father was hospitalised and died several years ago. And we all equally care for our mother now that she’s in her late 70s and alone – each of us in different ways, but i don’t think any one of us feels put upon. But don’t start me on my in-laws. Again though, I don’t think it’s because my husband and I don’t have any children – it’s because we’re the only ones left in the country! And now we feel we can’t even move city, let alone to the other side of the world.

  3. happynenes Says:

    Yeah, I worry about this a lot too, particularly since my folks and my hubby don’t get on that well, and my folks live in another state. I guess I’m hoping that I will be able to get them to move nearby if they get to the point where they need help on a daily basis. I’m an only child, so I’m the only one they have to turn to.

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