Posted on October 17, 2016
I hope you’ve had a good week. I’ve had a busy one, some big and small important moments, work, travel with my kids, a wedding in our family, and in the days before the wedding, some philosophical thoughts. And some funny things occurred to me, to share with you. And which were good realizations for myself. Talking to some friends in recent weeks were good wake up calls, about how we react to our parents and older relatives. And even how we react to small joys—–and big ones.
I love to go shopping with my daughters, when we’re in the same city, I often go out with three or even four of them (I have five daughters, as well as 4 sons). It’s fun to be with the girls, shopping is fun for us, and of course I get to hear their opinions. I already own some pretty clothes, and enough basics, and sometimes I fall for some silly item of clothing. (To complicate matters, three of my daughters work in fashion, so their opinions about what I buy are pretty strong about what I should and shouldn’t buy). I look at things in stores sometimes that are downright silly. Other things I’d enjoy wearing, and what I hear most often from them is “you don’t need that”. And most of the time, they’re right, I don’t. Most often, they’re right, and when I buy it anyway, sometimes it turns out to be a fashion mistake—-but sometimes I buy it anyway, and it turns out to be something I really love, and enjoy wearing (even if they hate it). And sometimes I don’t have the courage to go against their advice, and sneak back to the store later, and buy what they hated and I loved. And most of the time, I don’t regret it. Silly, maybe, or frivolous, or maybe something not very useful—-but if it makes me happy, what harm does it do? One of my good friends gave me a key chain last year with a tag on it that says, “Life is short—buy the shoes”. I keep it on my desk, because it’s a good reminder in life. You just can’t always be sensible, and maybe you don’t “need” whatever it is, but if you love it and it makes you happy, why not??? You’re not hurting anyone. Sometimes that key chain is good advice for life.
At some point in life, the tables turn, and we begin to scold our parents as they once scolded us. We tell them what they should and shouldn’t do, and expect them to be ‘sensible’ because they’re our parents. We forget that they’re people too, need to have fun, be frivolous, and not sensible all the time. I see examples of it constantly around me. And I think we need to rethink that. People need more than what they ‘need’ in their lives, they need fun, and love and happiness, and some foolishness too. How sad life would be without it. Even our parents don’t have to act like grown ups all the time, at whatever age.
When my children were young and I was divorced, they disapproved of everyone I dated, hated his hair, or his shoes, or his tee shirts or his kids. The bottom line was they figured I didn’t need a boyfriend (and in some cases, they were entirely right, but not always). And with 9 kids, that was a lot of disapproval to swim through. And long before that, when I was married, and having a baby almost every year, very few people thought it was a great idea, most people disapproved and what I heard most often was “ANOTHER one?” Who asked them? My family has been the greatest joy in my life, and I have no regrets about having so many children, they’re the best things I ever did. My children had the same response when I bought 2 Chihuahuas in the last 5 years, “You don’t NEED a dog, Mom.” No, I didn’t. But I cant begin to tell you how much I love those two silly dogs, how much I enjoy them, and how much joy they give me. Why not, 2 Chihuahuas? They keep me company now that the kids are grown up, and only one of my children still lives at home. But the automatic reaction is “You don’t need that”. But in fact, yes, I do. Very much in fact. They make me happy.
Several years ago, a good friend of mine was 87 years old, quite ill, and she very much wanted a dog. The obvious answer was that she was too old and too sick to have a dog, and it just didn’t make sense. Against family opinion, I gave her a Maltese for Christmas, she fell in love with the dog instantly, absolutely adored it and it adored her, and it was one of the best things I ever did. She lived for several more years, and the dog made her incredibly happy.
Why do we so easily believe that older people don’t need dogs, or boyfriends, or companionship in whatever form? Why should they have less happiness than we do? Why do we think our parents don’t need these things if they are older?
A friend just gave his 95 year old grandmother a dog for her birthday, which I think is not only a wonderful companion for her, but a fantastic message: It says you’re still young enough to have a dog, I expect you to live a lot more years and be here to enjoy it, not that you think they’re going to die any minute and a 95 year old doesn’t need a dog. Apparently, his grandmother is thrilled with it. What a great gift!
Tonight, I was speaking to a friend in her 50’s, and inquired about her mother who is 77. I asked how she was, and if her mother still had a man in her life, and the friend said “oh no, she doesn’t need that”. (The friend in question is happily married with 2 kids at a home and a full life). I then suggested maybe her mother might enjoy a dog, and she said “Oh she doesn’t need a dog”. There it was again. Why should her still very attractive, very lively mother NOT need a man in her life, a dog, or companionship in any form? We don’t cease to need those things, a shot of joy, or even some frivolity, at any age. In fact, I think older people need it more than we do, as their lives are less full than they used to be.
It really made me think about how quick we are to assume that our older parents or older friends don’t “need” the same things we do. How quick we are to assume, that they don’t need a companion, shouldn’t marry, have a dog or buy crazy shoes. Why NOT??
I think the message on that key chain on my desk is in fact very profound: “Life is short—buy the shoes”. In other words have some fun, have a romance, a girlfriend or a boyfriend, get married no matter how old you are if that’s what you want to do, get a dog even if you’re 95, buy silly shoes if they make you happy. In other words, LIVE, don’t stop living, no matter what age you are, don’t stop having fun, don’t let anyone tell you “You don’t need that”. Maybe you DO need that. And before we tell someone they don’t need that, we should think about it. The idea is to have joy in your life, enjoy the unexpected, and enjoy all the gifts life gives us…..no matter what anyone else thinks, or if they think you need it. YOU decide—-and let’s not be so quick to write old people off, they have as much right to joy in their life as anyone else—-we ALL need that. So what are you waiting for? Find a partner, have some fun, get married if you want to, get a dog, and buy the shoes, or the equivalent in your life!!
Have a great week, love, Danielle