I read a thought-provoking article the other day about the challenges of ageing as a member of the LGBTQ community.
The article addresses many of the issues that plague our community as we age, including the fact that many of us are childless.
In our bunco group, almost everybody is a mother and a grandmother. It’s an experience that I haven’t had. Someone commented that those who do not have children usually have a lot more money than those who have raised children. That’s probably true.
But there’s a wisdom about bearing children that I don’t have. I don’t know what it’s like to give birth. I don’t know what it’s like to go through raising a child and the ups and downs of enduring that. It makes me wonder if those who have children are happy about it, or do they regret it and wish they had chosen another path?
When I was in my 30s, my mother wore me that having children would be a tremendous sacrifice. This conversation partially determined my decision not to have them. But still, I wonder what it might’ve been like. My wife and I have had six pets collectively, but I know it’s not the same as bearing children.
For most straight couples, children have provided a security blanket for people during their senior years, but for those of us who don’t have kids, we are forced to look at other alternatives for elder care. It’s an issue I don’t want to think about, but now that I am approaching my 70th birthday, I’m more concerned.
We are getting more fragile. Things are harder for us to do and it has escalated in recent years.
For the past three years, my partner and I have cared for her 93-year-old mother who has lived with us. During that time, her health deteriorated, and unfortunately, so has ours. What was once easy a few years ago it’s somewhat difficult now, even with the help of hospice.
If my partner’s mother were to fall, neither of us could get her off the floor. We can’t afford to put our health in jeopardy by caring for her, because we have our issues now.
We are now looking at other avenues for her down the road, as her living with us has become too difficult.
But it raises an uncomfortable question. Who’s going to take care of us as we age? We don’t have children who can help us.
My siblings are far away and they have health problems. I would never want to burden them with mine. My partner has siblings, but they have their own families and are busy caring for them.
As a gay person, there aren’t as many resources geared toward people like us. Most church communities focus on straight married couples. Many of them are Christian in origin and are not very tolerant of alternative lifestyles. It makes it harder for those of us to find support when we already feel somewhat excluded.
Thankfully, we are slowly building a network of other people in the area who are in the same boat we are. Most of them are gay, but some are straight and have opted not to have children either.
Our finances are fairly secure, so when we get too old to care for ourselves, we are considering hiring someone to live with us. We want someone who can cook, deal with our health issues, clean, and of course, keep us entertained. Perhaps there’s a Tesla robot in the works who can do all of this without complaining.
If you are childless, what options are you considering as time moves on?