“We used to be embarrassed…”
That was the beginning of the comment from my oldest child, my only daughter, the mother of my grandchildren, regarding our unconventional living arrangements.
She went on to say, “…but then we were like ‘YEAH!'” (insert FIST PUMP)
At the ripe old age of 42 my hubby and I moved back into the home we left in 1998, a home owned by my parents. Our children (and their children) came with us, combining two complete households into one home.
To date, we have four adults, two toddlers, one infant, and one teenager living here full-time. One young adult is here on the weekends, and the other YA… well, he just left the nest to become an over-the-road truck driver. Every few days someone asks, “when will E be back?” To which I shrug and say, “I have no idea.” And then I go to my room and cry. But that’s not the purpose of this post.
The purpose is to say:
Your life is your life. Do the best with it that you can, every day.
Every family is different. Every LIFE is different.
Your life does not have to look like the one your parents modeled for you, or your grandparents. Your life needs to look like the one you are living right now, and you need to be happy and content with it, whatever it is.
That might be a child-free life, or a multi-generational life, or an adoptive parent life, or a single-parent life, or a parent of pets life, or a single life, or ______________________? I clearly remember being shamed for having FOUR children… My mother felt shamed for having only ONE. There’s shame available for having them too young, for having them too old, and for not having them at all. Quite simply, you can’t win…
Being happy and content with your life is highly individualized. It might mean living in what looks like a commune. It might mean having $300K in debt toward a beautiful home in an expensive neighborhood in a trendy community. It might mean shucking it all and joining the Peace Corps (you have no idea how tempting that is at this stage of life) or sucking it up and taking that high-pressure corporate job with the luscious retirement package. It might mean moving back home to tend to aging parents, or living near (or even with) your ex for the sake of the kids, or moving closer to your children to help raise your grandchildren. The possibilities are endless.
For our family, it means that we’re home during that “fussy hour” when babies and toddlers demand excessive attention while moms and dads are trying to wrap up their own days. It means when my daughter needs a sitter she doesn’t have to pay for one. It means I get to watch my grandbabies grow on a day to day basis.
It also means I’ve been thrown back into diaper world, there are Legos on the floor when I traverse the living room at night to pee, and that I live in a weird limbo-land between raising babies and being a “free” adult. Is it worth it? For me, yes. For someone else, I don’t know. And that’s OK.
It’s sad that in our modern culture—with its constant demands for acceptance and open-mindedness—we are still being judged for any household structure that differs from “the norm.” (Where that norm came from, I don’t know, but it needs to be tossed out with the trash.) In the Old Testament, the word “household” referred to the immediate family, the extended family, the hired help, and the livestock… it was all-inclusive. It should be so today.
Let’s stop promoting shame and guilt when it comes to the households of our friends, family, and neighbors, and start promoting love… the unconditional kind.