21 August 2010

The Circle of Life

When I'm old and grey I hope my children look after me. I hope that I will have raised them to understand old age and it's eccentricities and want and be happy to look after me.

What brought thoughts of old age to mind was my three children, who are almost grown up. AJ is nineteen, Tom is about to turn eighteen and Hannah is fifteen. We are a large, extended family, on both sides.

I grew up with grandparents and a great-grandma, great aunties and uncles, second and third cousins as well as more immediate family. Birthdays, Christmas, weddings, christenings and funerals are all family occasions, where everyone comes together to celebrate, laugh and cry together. Wayne's family is pretty much the same and as a result our children have grown up with lots of cousins, grand-parents, aunties and uncles and great aunties and uncles of all ages surrounding them.

Now my children are growing up and becoming independent, I find that I don't have the spare time I was looking forward to.  I had grand plans to sew more, work a few more tapestries, extend the veggie beds, travel more, even keep the house a little tidier.

Instead, my days are filled with appointments - doctors, shopping, physio, even the  odd cleaning job. My mother is getting on in years and now instead of my  children depending on me to care for them I am doing more for this woman who did so much for me when I needed help.

When I was little it was my mother who made sure I had food to eat, and a warm, clean bed to sleep in. It was Mum who took me wherever I had to go, and sat up on Saturday nights to make sure I came home safe and sound (and on time).  Mum looked after me when I was sick, or hurt, or just hungry. 

After my father died it was mum who held our little family unit together, working four jobs to keep a roof over our heads, food on the table and my brother and me in school.

She did these things without being asked and without complaint, never once asking for anything in return. She did these things with love.

And now the circle is almost complete. It is my time to take care of mum now she needs a little help, just as she cared for me.  My mother is a proud and independent woman and she loves me enough to let me.

It is this understanding of the circle of life that I hope to pass on to my children, by example, showing them how to care for our elderly, so that when it's my time to need help again they will know I love them enough to let them help me.


  1. love this article, it is so beautifully written.What comes around goes around, we need to look after our parents when they are not well and need help.

  2. Kids are not like this now. I haven't seen my son for six months or had a phone call for three months. If I ask why I'm told he's busy, I get upset with his attitude as I was a single parent.

  3. I'm sorry to hear that. Perhaps he really is busy - instead of asking why he hasn't visited can you offer to help? Babysitting? Ironing? House cleaning? Offer to cook dinner once a week and take it to him at his house, then enjoy the meal together. Or perhaps it could be that he isn't at the stage of life where he realises just how much you did for and because of him. Until he reaches that stage he'll have no real idea of just how much he owes you.

    I wrote this piece a long time ago. AJ is now23, Tom is 21 and Hannah is 18. They were great kids and they are amazing young adults, and I'm not biased. They help look after their grand-parents and older relatives. They'll happily take Grandma shopping or help their Great-Aunty with her gardening projects. They even help me with chores. But they don't really appreciate what it took to raise them. They won't know that until they are experiencing parenthood for themselves.


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