This question has been troubling me for a long time. I have tried to get an answer from various people about their expectations from various relationships. I have never been able to get a satisfying answer.
During the recent past, once again I am being troubled with this question. I come across more and more incidents of people (especially older people) complaining that they do not know what to do when they go to spend time with their children living away from their home. Be it within India or outside. The constant complaint is that they find time hanging in their hands or they feel lonely. This is true even if both husband and wife are alive or only when one of them is alive. They just are not able to feel at home in their children's home.
Just, yesterday, one of my friends was telling me about her sister, who had come to spend a few days with her only living son and his family. From the second day of her arrival, she started missing her own home and wanted to get back. I asked her, what was her problem? The answer was that she did not know how to spend her time.
This set me thinking once again. How can a mother feel lonely with her own child? Have we faulted and if so where? Do we blame the mother or the grown up child? Whosoever is at fault, I could well imagine the scenes that would follow in this particular situation. Two more times the mother says, I am longing to get back to my own home, the son would ask her, when shall I book your return ticket and I am sure the mother would feel very hurt, not realising she put this question into her son's mouth. On the other hand, the son never felt like, sitting with the mother and asking her, how he could make her feel more at home in his place. As far as I can see, it is only a question of some give and take or adjustments in lifestyle on both sides. But nobody wants to spell it out.
Time was, when people had respect for each other and time and patience to listen to each others' doubts and troubles and if possible, suggest a way out. People also felt free to confide in others and accepted the others' suggestions with open mind. A mother could always tell her son what she felt or what was not acceptable to her and the son graciously accepted her views. Today's older generation, not wanting to complain like their parents or in-laws did, are trying to be nice but at the same time are not able to keep up with the fast pace of life the youngsters are leading. Or can we blame the changing values or the values the children miss in today's world of fast living and the unending quest for money and comforts? Or is this an indication to the elderly that they should accept the age old "VANAPRASTHASRAMAM"?
More on the subject later.