Advice?…not just yet thank you!

Life seems so simple now. I’m more or less retired, so most of my time is relaxed. I can wake up when I want, go to sleep when I want, and eat what I want, when I want.

I am occasionally given advice, but it’s quite rare now, as if people think that having reached my sixties I’m no longer in need of it. How long though, before it starts again? I’m talking about the advice we tend to give to the elderly. It’s usually unsolicited, and we give it with the best intentions. But just because someone is eighty, it doesn’t necessarily mean they have lost their common sense. I know now, that I should ask for identification if someone comes to my home. Why would I not know that in twenty years time?

When my babies were small, I was grateful for the advice given to me by the health visitor, and by other mums. Usually I had asked for advice, and I was very willing to take it, and try their suggestions. Unsolicited advice was always less easy, because often it implied a criticism. Even if, deep down, I knew they were right, the temptation was to find some excuse as to why the advice would not work.

My life was more complicated then than it is now. I didn’t go out of the house to work, but I was constrained by other peoples needs, and by their schedules. I had to be up and dressed at a certain time because my children were awake and needed to be looked after. When they went to playgroup or school, I had to get them there on time, and be there to collect them. Appointments with doctors or dentists had to be kept, and all the time, there was I desperately trying to give my children the best upbringing I could. 

All that was difficult enough, just providing the basics, but I, like mothers all over the world, made it even more complicated than that. I added in extra things to do, like childminding, which brought its own time restraints. My children joined Brownies and Cubs, so I had to make sure they got there on time, and were collected.

Having four children meant regular birthday parties. No taking them bowling for me, though. Huge parties at home with home made party food and always a home made novelty cake. Games and prizes and party bags, and no child in the class being left out. We even delivered all the children home afterwards! I ignored advice given by my friends to simplify things. I still think I was right.

I’ve given my share of advice to others over the years. I’ve tried not to feel exasperated when it wasn’t followed. I still try hard not to give advice to my children and their partners about my grandchildren, except when they have asked for it. That hasn’t been often though…they have all done a pretty good job on their own so far! I remember feeling very sorry for my lovely daughter in law when her first baby was born….how intimidating to have a mother- in- law who was up to date with child care….I certainly wasn’t going to imply criticism by offering unsolicited advice. And anyway she was doing well without my input!

In the next few years I certainly expect the advice to start coming my way again. But if you’re the one giving it, and I haven’t asked you for it, stand well back!



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