This I believe:
I believe in families…the extended sort that include young and old and in-between; families that have a place for each person’s weakness and each person’s contribution.
I believe we weren’t meant to live in separate houses with each generation struggling alone. That’s a modern notion where the old struggle with loneliness and the young struggle to get attention; where some feel useless while other’s feel overwhelmed. I am fortunate that my family is unconventional.
My son, his wife, their four children and I share a home. They didn’t take me in because I was incapable of living alone. I didn’t take them in because they were incapable of raising their family. No one is a martyr, we chose to do this.
Our house bursts with life– 3 dogs, 3 cats, a hamster, a goldfish, 4 kids, a mentally challenged adult, 2 parents and me. Some days are a delight. Some days take lots of patience. Every day is full of people’s quirks and needs and there is always somebody to talk to.
We generate mountains of laundry, eat lots of food, make lots of mess and enjoy each other’s company. Sometimes the children, who can bring me to tears with their loving innocence, can make me want to pull out my hair with frustration at their squabbles. Sometimes the same children who run to greet me with their generous enthusiasm chafe that there’s a third adult to monitor their behavior. Sometimes my dear daughter-in-law must feel that the extra set of hands is too damn bossy.
We’ve all had to learn or relearn some basic lessons:
> you share your stuff because it’s more fun to have someone to play with than to play alone
> you take turns because you wouldn’t like it if others always got their way
> you assume the best about each other and give the benefit of the doubt because it’s what you’d
want in return
>and maybe most importantly, if you can laugh at a situation, others will generally join you.
This project, in the planning for three years, was a leap of faith in our love for each other, our values, and in our combined strength and wisdom to manage whatever challenges come our way.
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