Man says he feels like a failure for not having a family of his own

By Nina Steele 

Depressed middle-aged manThe man in question, shared his story in the Guardian. Both his father and brother passed away years ago and it has been him and his mother ever since. His mother passed away recently. She had a longstanding illness towards the end of her life, which resulted in him becoming her main carer. Now, as a middle-aged man, he says that he feels like failure for not having a family of his own.

Talking of his mother, he says she became reclusive after losing both her husband and son and that he “tried to give her as much emotional support as possible”. That he dedicated much of his life to his mother, has meant that he didn’t have time to focus on much else, including having a love life. Of that he said: “I have always had this role fill a large space in my emotional life. I never really felt the need for deep connection with girlfriends and this is why I haven’t settled down”.

The story caught my attention because I knew a few people who were in the same situation, both men and women. One woman lived with her mother for much of her adult life and acted as her main carer too. She may have been in her 50s or 60s when her mother passed away. Not long after, she met a man who she later became engaged to.

It is a shame that after caring for his mother for all these years, that this man still feels like a failure because his life does not mirror that of the majority. Being a full time carer for an elderly person is quite a big responsibility. I saw how demanding it can be in my former job for an old people’s charity. And those challenges are made much harder when the elderly person has a longstanding illness. Being a good carer demands a type of skills that not many people have. It is a shame that carers are not always given the recognition they deserve. I hope that changes, now that they have been identified as key workers since the pandemic.

In the early days of the lockdown, I met a carer in a supermarket car park. I stopped to thank her, mistaking her uniform for that of a nurse. When she said that she wasn’t a nurse but a carer, I explained that I knew the type of work involved in being a carer and made sure that she knew how highly I thought of her profession. Her face lit up. She told me that not everyone thinks so highly of them and then proceeded to tell me about some of the challenges she is faced with in her work, all of which I was already familiar with.

So going back to the man in the Guardian article, he should be proud of everything he has done for his mother while she was still alive. I hope he does find a partner, since that’s what he wants. Life has a way of surprising us when we expect it the least.

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