We are seeing a new breed of ‘Middle-aged Mothers’ in the late 20th century and they are on the increase. They are in their late forties and early fifties, still full of life and with a wide range of interests and hobbies. Their husbands are on the verge of retirement and all set to prepare post-retirement plans. But, for the new breed of ‘mothers’, there is no retirement, no superannuation and no part in their spouses’ retirement plans because life starts all over again for them, a different kind of life.
Their day begins at 4 a.m. and ends at 10 p.m. as they work almost round the clock. Their routine includes, besides household chores, changing nappies of babies, preparing their feed and putting them to sleep and snatching their forty winks while the young are asleep. Come evening, the whole family is at the table looking forward to a sumptuous repast. Does that leave the new middle-aged mothers any time for themselves? Can they pursue their hobbies or interests with a round-the-clock schedule like this? Certainly not.
What happens if these ‘mothers’ fall ill or tire themselves with overwork, ageing at a faster pace? Who will take care of them when they can no longer look after themselves in their seventies and eighties?
You must be wondering who these ‘Middle-aged Mothers’ are! Doesn’t every mother take care of her children? What’s so great about it, you may ask.
There is nothing great if ‘they’ are the real mothers of the children they tend to. Enjoying the child’s pranks and lisping talk is different from having to take care of him/her all the time. That is what the grandmothers of today are forced to do because either they have working daughters or daughters-in-law who are away most of the day, leaving their children in the care of the grandmothers.
The latter are forced to don the role of ‘mothers’ all over again. This time it is with greater responsibility. Since they are accountable for their grandchildren’s behaviour/misbehaviour, their task becomes doubly difficult.
More often than not, they find it a thankless job. This is the ‘other side’ of the picture of ‘Middle-aged Mothers’. They are the ‘reluctant’ ones who long to have some time for themselves to spend as they wish. But before long they realise it is only wishful thinking on their part.
Sometimes the child’s aunts (especially spinster aunts) also are forced to take up the role of ‘Middle-aged Mothers’ for various reasons and their plight is worse.
N Meera Raghavendra Rao