RE-CALIBRATING AT 72
justmeandlilley OR a childless elder and small dog battling it out on a grass verge
I'm not sure I've ever really faced my childlessness during my life. For whatever deep or scared reasons I've never faced it. Now, aged 72, I do - face it.
Back in the day, my ex husband and I with my parents and gran, made the decision to sell our properties in Leicester and move to the East Coast close to one of the most popular seaside towns in the country. Turned out, this meant we reaped the benefit of some incredible nightlife. We had no children, seemingly we weren't going to, so nights out featuring a fair amounts of alcohol continued for several decades. Working and playing hard in equal measure, because we could. Maybe we were lucky to be 'of' that time. It was fun at weekends is all I can say.
I'm thinking backwards so one's memories are blighted by rose spectacles. But I'm pretty well on the ball, here. When I became an estate agent, particularly a self employed estate agent, the fun continued. For a long time. Before it calmed down a tad as I hit my later life. Now in my 70s, the coffee morning trail or 'joining a group' beckons.
Now, you could say, I was being irresponsible because I made no preparation whatsoever towards my future. At no time did I give thought to what would happen to me if/when I was left on my own, with no one, in later years. As I am. Serve you right, say a large majority of folk.
What I actually did was assume that as I'd always managed to turn my life round and land on my feet (or as an ex called it ' you always land in the s**t and come up smelling of roses.' With a great deal of effort involved, I might add). 'Til now. Suffice to say my life has not turned out as I expected it to. Hence my blog and social media. It's too early to say if stuff is working but the main thing is - it is sufficiently distracting.
So, I drag myself back to re-calibrating at 72.
See, the realisation that life can't and won't continue in 'party' mode landed a long time ago. I'm alright with it.😭
The realisation that I chose to sell my business through ill health does not now mean at 72 I can launch myself into another estate agency business because I, in my own head (dreams?) think I can. 🤣
This is a long ago photo of myself (on the right of picture) and the fabulous Sue Sanderson. Taken at the combined Christmas party given by my company, Greystones, and my late partner's company. (Somewhere in East Lincolnshire). Sue, who owned her own financial company, acted as our independent financial advisor, advising our clients on mortgages, if required. I believe this is circa 1998. All I can remember is, it was one of our best Christmas dos ever, and there'd been a few. Blondie - lives!
Here I am complete with shoulder pads and lots of black eye make up in front of one of our display boards.
The realisation that I must join clubs, societies and so on because I 'need to meet others of my age and interests' has - no - still passed me by. 😨 clearly I am odd…
The realisation I'm not going to meet some bloke in later life who bears a resemblance to George Clooney.
The realisation that I am now seen as old or older by society at large. One can only use it to one's advantage. But it's taking some getting used to and I don't always like it very much.
The realisation that I am now seeing myself as old and starting to act out. In other words I worry I'm giving in. Not yet giving up - that's an entirely different thread - accepting of my elderly status. But I never saw that one coming is the problem.
What the hell - the realisation that I am childless and I'm 72 with no one at all. Finally, it's hit home.
I wonder what sort of preparations I could or should have made? Apart from the obvious like the Will and Power of Attorney. I'd done all of that. You change your mind a lot anyway, when you're on your own.
What do you prepare for? Making sure you've got a partner in tow? How do you make sure of that? Maybe a lot of us don't want one. Making sure you have lots of like minded friends - I thought I had them, - but for various reasons, turns out I was wrong in some cases. Anyway, I'm odd (apparently) so who wants me? Can't say I blame them. 😇
How does one prepare for childlessness in older years? That may be a whole new blog piece, possibly written by someone else who knows more than what I do
I've noticed a lot of the 'childlessness is great' crowd pumping up the volume, recently. Good for them. That'll help.
I'll say this, for me, the realisation that what I (or we) was running away from all these years has finally caught up. Childlessness. I'm sorry but, for some, it's not always so great. At 30s through 'til late 60s perhaps it was great, because I never faced it. Once you've hit over that mark it's not so much. Otherwise, why so many childless groups? By choice or not by choice, own up to it. If it's lonely for couples, what the hell is it supposed to be like for we aloners?
Lovely Millie is a friend's daughter. We were all of us on a walk complete with their two dogs, but Lilley and Millie just clicked. Isn't it rather nice when friends 'share' their family life a little bit - like Millie and Lilley in the photo.
We're out there, frantically joining stuff, trying to make friends and contacts whilst the 'grannies and grand dads' are alright Jack. Am I wrong?
Show me someone who has joined clubs and societies and not been mowed down with photos of the grandkids. Either being shown to you or being handed round and shared amongst other grannies/dads.
Are we jealous? I'm not sure. Possibly. As I am from the 'childless not by choice' group, I might be jealous. Of course I'm jealous. I wanted all of that. I would trade in all of my old party going lifestyle for kids and grandkids. Let's not forget here, parents and grandparents can do what we childless do. They can go places, do things when the kids have left home. It is not exclusive to the childless.
So re calibrating at 72 - what have I learnt here? Feeling better for having vented.
One thing I will say is this - be honest. Be honest about your choices and your situation. You don't have to voice it publicly, of course you don't, but do if it helps. Here, by all means. But, be honest with yourself. I've felt much better since telling myself my own truth. I'd shunted everything away for so long. Now I think - why should I? Why shouldn't people know how I feel? About childlessness - to pinch a phrase - it's not for cissies.
Don't pretend you're feeling great about your childlessness if you're not, as in - 'life's fantastic' - if it really isn't. Sometimes, just sometimes, it simply isn't so fab. Deal with it in your own best way, but don't pretend. I did and here I am - alone and childless. If I'd owned up to my loss over the many years instead of ignoring it, maybe I might be feeling comfier within, right now.
If your childlessness affects you, emotionally, physically, financially - own up - if only to yourself. Maybe analyse it a little bit. Don't be afraid to ask for help. But don't pretend. I've seen it - being pretended - everything is fine, fantastic, love it, great, hoo di hah. You sure?
I say again - I'm 72, not 42. You're entitled to shout me down on any of the above but I worry about my reactions if a 40 odd year old childless by choice person is telling me what I should be feeling at 72 years of age, alone and childless not by choice. Saying…
Be honest but be kind. Asking you to think about your words.
Be kind to yourself 🥰
... . Lilley on the long and winding road to nowhere. She's packed her bags and clearing off. Had enough, Heading for the big city...in her dreams..
I would love comments on this one. After all, I might learn something….