October 22nd, 2007
Categories: Parenting Older


With me not all tongue-in-cheekily contemplating the likelihood of having my son in bed with my husband and me until past the point that he’s driving and shaving, the headline in this article, “Still Sleeping with Mom and Dad”, and the accompanying photo showing a 23-year-old and his 21-year-old sister huddling under the covers between mattress-hugging parents caught my eye.

Little did I realize, however, that a complete read of the story and the comments it inspired would end up giving me one more reason to treasure the fact that I’m an older parent and to bang the drum for others who may be contemplating adopting children while approaching the later stages of the blooming of the rose … or even once the blooming bit is done and the wilt is beginning to indicate gravity is a force that can’t be ignored.

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Although I’ve written before about boomerang kids, I don’t like the term. It sends a message of having tossed our children away and that their returning smacks us upside the head when we’ve turned our backs.

I’d prefer a metaphor more akin to a bowling ball; something we carefully aim, then gently release while nudging and guiding as we do, then anxiously watch, all the while knowing that the ball return will work until the game is over.

There’s nothing unexpected about that ball coming back for another go, and the more expert guidance it gets with each venture out, the fewer times it has to return before the full measure of success is reached.

Being an older parent means there’s just that much more experience and finesse in our delivery, and because we accept that our time is limited we can be more likely to do what we can with the frames we count on and not assume unlimited opportunities to get it right.

At the same time, our children … adorable little bowling balls that they are … will understand early that they need to start knocking those pins down on their own sooner, rather than later. At some point we won’t have the strength to power them down the lanes, and even keeping track of the score will be up to them.

This is neither tragic nor dire, but a fact of life for our kids that may very well put them ahead of the game. Reading personal accounts about bowling balls in no hurry to hit 300, I think we older parents can be happy enough, too.

Like this, from someone named Sam (shudder):

My mom works at home. I’m a bartender and am out late. My days are spent sprawled on the couch before work. She nags and I nod my head. I’m paying rent (not much) and help pay for food (which I mostly eat). I hope to be travelling again soon. I’m sure she won’t mind.

Or this, from a mother in her 70s with 32- and 29-year-olds still at home:

Both are university educated, hold good positions, never miss a day of work. They are sociable, attractive, clean and well-dressed.

However, the need to clean their environs seems to have eluded them. Nor do they seem perturbed to see us climb ladders, lop branches, trim hedges, wash windows – not to mention shop and cook. Their contributions to the common coffers are meagre. They would never recognize themselves in this.

But there’s a silver lining. They both recently announced they will be gone this fall. Will we be sad? Not a chance! By December, we’ll have put away our staff uniforms.

When Sam is 32, I’ll be 83 … if at all … and my bowling shirt will have been mothballed for a very long time by then. Not that I relish the idea of being that deep in geezerhood … or the alternative … but I do think it will be a very good thing for him to be an adult at 32 rather than an overgrown ‘tween.

4 Responses to “Older Parents: Less time, more strikes”

  1. Sunbonnet Sue says:

    thanks for a great laugh! LOVE the bowling ball comparison.

    our kids all pile in bed with us. but they’re rarely here.

    Since Hubby has MS, when they are here, we keep them busy “being our legs.” They are gracious and willing, but it does cut the slacking short! any friend of thiers who spends more than 60 minutes a week hanging at our place is pressed into service as well.

    daughter could never share a kitchen with me full time, no way. we’d both go mad. we quite possibly already are! only time will tell…..

  2. John says:

    Bowling balls, that does explain the judgement issues with teenagers. I don’t know about you Sandra, but I have sure had the ball get stuck in the ball return, then you have to get help. Wow, it really is a lot like parenting.

    Deep in gezzerhood, Sandra, some of us are further into that journey than you are. How about ‘More traveled’ instead of deep? Spin counts. John

  3. Sunbonnet Sue,
    That’s the idea! Put ‘em to work … friends included. My daughter and I could share a kitchen, but her husband and mine couldn’t. The men are the cooks in our houses.

    John,
    Calling in the experts is what they’re there for.

    As for “deep” as opposed to “more traveled”, I wasn’t thinking ‘under’ but ‘into’ … as in geezerWood — a lovely old-growth forest. (How’s that for spin?)

  4. John says:

    Sandra, you are good. John

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