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Planning Retirement Online


The older woman who wants it all

October 2004 

 

Helen Franks Helen Franks offers some (lighthearted) advice to New Laterlife Woman
 
No, not Mrs Robinson, the Graduate's squeeze. I'm talking about new older women with real lives, real busy ones.

 They'll be in their fifties or sixties, or maybe seventies. They've got responsible jobs, not necessarily full time. They may also be learning Spanish or writing a thesis on Roman pottery. They have grown-up children, husbands and/or lovers. They run their homes, and, some of them, their second homes. They go to the gym, the theatre, the cinema. They join reading groups, do charity work, give dinner parties, do the gardening.
And oh yes, they also have grandchildren.
 

   
The Older Woman Who Wants It All (OWWWIA) is not, contrary to expectation, a neglectful granny. She can't be as hands-on as those old-style grans with wide open spaces in their diaries. She may, however, have to go to extraordinary lengths to fight for her own space with the grandchildren.

Fight? The OWWWIA has many obstacles in her path, not only those arising from her busy lifestyle. There are the nannies and au pairs and the above-mentioned always-available grannies, and ballet classes and horse riding and other after-school activities that are part of the grandchildren's lifestyle. And, most formidable of all, there’s the stay-at-home-daughter-now-mum/ex-career woman who has decided not to want it all and is taking time out to bring up her children herself.

Here are three identifiable OWWWIAs. Check yourself out.


1. You've got the stay-at-home daughter

It starts out fine. After the first baby, daughter goes back to work and the OWWWIA is in much demand. She may have to struggle and juggle to be a part-time, hands-on granny and the effort may be killing her, but who's complaining? After the second baby arrives, and ditto third if there is one, daughter decides to make a career of mothering, and everything changes.

Suddenly, the bigger children acquire a social life through their contacts at school and nursery. They go to each other's houses and have friends home. This is not solely for the sake of the children, it is also a way for daughter to make friends locally, to network about the best schools, best ballet classes, best baby sitters and cleaners.

With this going on, there is little time in any week for the OWWWIA to get a look in, and the only solution is to make covert arrangements with the grandchildren when their mother is out of earshot.

2. You're a long-distance career gran

Typically, this OWWWIA will have started her career fairly late in life (possibly after her husband has left her for a younger woman or when the children were growing up). She throws herself into her work, gets promotion and power which may involve travel or long working hours or living some distance from her children. She makes a new life, maybe gets herself a new man and is complimented by everyone for being such an achiever/not being a victim.

But having had to deal with the Other Woman, she finds new competition when the grandchildren are born. This time the rival is the Other Granny, a woman of possibly more years but fewer interests who, let's face it, wins hands down as the childcarer.

One solution for this type of OWWWIA is to use bribery. Being the long-distance granny has novelty value, and she can use her financial independence to rent a
holiday cottage for the whole family. A couple of weeks under the same roof as the grandchildren may well prove that a little of what you fancy is quite enough.

3. When paid carers are your rivals

You can't blame full-time working mums for choosing full-time childcare. If they can afford it, this is far more convenient than relying on grandmothers, especially those who can only give fragments of their time. That's when grandmothers are marginalised.

It's important to understand that from the point of view of nannies, au pairs and childminders, OWWWIA are a pain. Here's why: grandmothers who come and go tend to mess up timetables and schedules. They take the children on outings and don't get them back at the time the nanny or au pair would like. Since a good childcarer is like gold dust, mothers do not want to offend them.

Of course, some paid carers find it attractive to have time off during their working hours and are only too happy to put up with the odd foibles of grandmothers to gain this perk. But then their employer is likely to see this as not good value for money. So again it's no time for the less-than-full-time granny.


Amazon Book - Long Distancre GrandmaWhat's the solution? See answer to problem No 2 and count your lucky stars.


PS On a more serious note, if you need support and advice on being a grandparent, check out the website: www.grandparentsplus.org.uk

 

 


   

laterlife interest

The above article is part of the features section of laterlife.com called laterlife interest. laterlife interest contains a variety of articles of interest for visitors to laterlife.com written by a number of experienced and new journalists.

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