There will be many over 60s who are parents, some will also be grandparents and there will be others who are childless. I come into the first category and, before I say anything else, I would like to make it clear that I consider my three children to be a blessing (just in case one of them decides to read their mother's blog!) So today's question is: are children a blessing or a curse?
What got me thinking about this topic was a conversation at our weekly Spanish-British intercambio. María wanted to practise her English because she is going to work as a volunteer in Nepal for three months. How exciting is that? However she commented on the fact that she is in her late thirties, single and is wondering if she will ever have children. Her friend Ana has two daughters aged 17 and 21 and agreed with me that children are a constant worry. My own children are all in their forties and I still worry about them at times! María has been to many different countries and leads a very fulfilling life. She realises that she wouldn't have been able to do half of these things if she had had children. Both women seem happy with their lives, even though they are going in different directions.
My generation was fortunate, as many of us had our children at a young age. I never really thought about whether I wanted children or could afford to raise a family: the norm was to marry and then start your family. By the time I was twenty-five I had three children and I have absolutely no regrets about this. My children were already adults when I was in my mid forties and I was lucky to be in a good job, so I was able to travel around the world (even though I have never visited Nepal!) I guess that I have had the best of both worlds in having children like Ana and also travelling like María.
On the whole young people nowadays marry (or start living together) at a later age than we did and if they decide to have children they've usually thought it through. So far so good. However nothing can prepare you for the joy of holding your child for the first time. You look down on that tiny baby with a mixture of love and fear. You (and your partner) are totally responsible for the welfare of this child and seeing him or her safely to adulthood. That's what you think in the early days - you assume that your role will cease once your son or daughter leaves home. I'm sorry to disappoint any young parents who may be reading this, but your children will be constantly in your thoughts and you will never cease worrying about them until the day you die. That is the joy of being a parent!