Mother’s Day ALWAYS serves as a reminder to me that we are child-free (as compared to childless.) It was a decision we made very early in our lives, and we’ve generally been OK with our decision. Along the way, well-meaning friends would ask us, “Who will take care of you when you grow old?” To which I always responded,
“Having someone to wipe my drool
was NOT a good enough reason to have children.”
And I still stand by that. But now, as we get further along in our retirement years, our child-free decision does come with some interesting, but not insurmountable dilemmas:
- What is the best way for us to celebrate holidays? The siblings all have families of their own, and we are always invited to participate. But is it just wrong of us to want to take off, just the two of us, and leave all the holiday hoopla behind? I see the tropics at Christmastime in my mind’s eye!
- What, exactly, should our will and estate planning look like? Yes, there are siblings, nieces and nephews, and even a God-daughter, but the whole “who should get what” is a much more difficult decision when they’re not your offspring. Literature is replete with examples of the young pandering to their elders in order to inherit! God forbid!
- How much should we plan on leaving to charities, education foundations, the arts and such. The desire to give back to this wonderful community of ours is strong!
- What if we start having mental challenges? This one is probably the scariest of all. I have many friends caring for siblings and parents with issues along the dementia spectrum. Should that happen to us, would we even know?? A hard one to prepare for, for sure!
- Will we have enough money to either care for ourselves, (retiring in place and hiring any assistance we might need), or to move into a high quality retirement facility if necessary?
- And what if we don’t have enough money for any of this?
This would all be so very much easier if we knew exactly when we were planning to die! Some very good friends of ours (also child-free) have suggested we plan it out like this:
We figure out how much we want to give to church, philanthropy and family, and set that pot aside. We set aside enough to cover the nursing home for a couple of years (about the average stay.) We make sure the insurance coverage is adequate to prevent catastrophe…and then we go out and have a blast!!!
Our goal is this: If we play all our cards right, we want to cash out of this life NET ZERO!! With any luck, the check written for our caskets will bounce!
Happy Mother’s Day to those of you who happen to be moms!