Oh! We're halfway there! Whoa! Living on a prayer!

Well, okay.  I changed to blog theme more than slightly.  Many thanks to Vancouver web designer Andrew Lindstrom, whose Zinepress theme is what I’m currently using here at iBard.

I had a wonderful holiday weekend, despite some unexpected adventures.  In the course of 48 hours, we went from expecting Chris’ parents for a visit in a month, to expecting them in 2 weeks, to expecting them yesterday.   It’s a long story, but they had a nice overnight stay with us last night before heading down to central Kentucky to be with Chris’ grandma, who is having some health issues.

After a massive cleaning frenzy on my part, I went to the Hob Knobb Coffee Shop to catch up on my classwork before the inlaws arrived.  After I got back, my five year old daughter proceeded to put a vicious smackdown on her grandparents in Wii Bowling.  Then we broke out Guitar Hero World Tour for their (sort of) listening enjoyment.  The five year old brought in an electronic keyboard with dead batteries to provide exceptional, if silent, keyboard support.  I did my best to ensure that my inadequate drumming skillz did not detract from my husband’s and son’s stellar plastic guitar playing.

guitars

It occured to me at one point during the evening that neither Chris’ parents, nor mine, would have gotten this immersed in our interests as kids.   My parents were marginal about showing up, much less participating, in the things I enjoyed.  Much as I’d like to credit either Generation X’s or Chris’ and my personal commitment to being more involved parents, I think it may be as simple as we have more in common with our kids than our parents had in common with us.

We play video games with them because we like video games.  We listen to the same music they do because we never stopped listening to new music.

I’ve never quite understood the “Boomers and Before” ideal that being a grown up meant changing your taste in music, clothes and leisure activities.  I always kind of thought it just meant becoming a mature person.  For me, maturity isn’t about t-shirts versus ties, it’s about realizing the world doesn’t revolve around you.

If Chris and I were playing video games because we were trying to show how “cool” we were, that would be antithetical to that kind of maturity.  That would be an early midlife crisis. We play because we like it–and luckily, so do our kids, so it’s something fun we can share as a family.

Maybe there is a bit of Generation X influence in there, in that as a generation, I think we’re less predisposed to believing it’s all about us.  It hasn’t been about us up till now–why would we think that was going to change because we’re turning 30 or 40?  So I do think we’re a little more willing to stretch our comfort zones to make the space where we and our kids can happily co-exist a bit bigger.

When I was a kid, it felt like my parents and I belonged to two entirely different nations.  The gulf between my culture and theirs grew wider every year.  Every year I felt less and less like I belonged in the same house with them.  It wasn’t about feeling welcome–it was about feeling foreign.  Which is not a feeling that says “home” to anyone.

I don’t think that my kids need to be little clones of Chris and I, or that I need to bend myself into a metaphorical pretzel to fit into their world.  I just want us to have enough common ground that no one feels like an alien.

So what about you, reader friends?  Did you fit neatly into your childhood homes?  Do you and your kids have more in common than you and your parents did?  Would you freak out if your inlaws came a month early?

And what on earth did you do with YOUR holiday weekend?

img courtesy tabery on sxc.hu

4 Comments


  1. ·

    Interesting ideas, Kat! My parents were pretty good about staying relevant with my interests but I did notice that they actually became more hip as time went on.

    When I was younger they were more strict and old-fashioned (relying on the way they were brought up as a guide on how to raise us) and as we got older they loosened up. My youngest sister had many more freedoms and privileges than I did.

    I watch my parents now with my own kids and it’s neat to see their relationship span the generations. But my parents travel a lot and are hip and active; my in-laws are more the traditional “older” couple and it’s much harder to relate to them.

    I feel like I’m closer to my kids than my parents were with me (part of that is homeschooling so I’m with them all the time) but maybe that’s just my perception. Maybe the gap between us is bigger from my kids’ side than it is from mine. But I know I’ve made a deliberate effort to do many things differently than my parents did, so that my kids’ childhood will be happier than mine was.

    My parents were great but I had a lot of pressure on me as a pastor’s kid and I hated traditional school so homeschooling is a way of making sure they don’t have the same negative school experiences I did.

    Reply
  2. Kat
    ·

    Yeah, I can definitely say that both Chris’ parents and mine loosened up as they got older. I suspect that some of that “I have to act like an adult” thing from their earlier parenting years may have been an attempt to “fake it till you make it.” In other words, it may have been an effort to “feel like a grown-up.” As they got older and more comfortable as parents and adults, it became less necessary.

    Or it’s possible we just wore them down. Or wore them out. 🙂 And yes, my youngest sister had an ENTIRELY different experience (much less strict) than I had. Similar to your experience.

    Like you said, I may be overestimating how close my kids and I are. From their POV, I may seem just as distant as my parents seemed to me. If that’s the case, I think I’ll just enjoy getting the better end of the deal for now. It’s rare that I get the more optimistic POV in any relationship… LOL

    Reply

  3. ·

    I never felt like I fit in with my family. Everyone else accepted the generational patterns of neglect and abuse and as just the way it is, but I couldn’t. From an early age I knew it wasn’t right. Because of that disconnect I felt like a complete alien.

    I have attempted to establish common ground with my family, but they see me as snobbish and uppity and I just view them with pity. It’s not healthy, so we agree to hold each other at arm’s length.

    My partner is 20 years older than me and it has been interesting watching how his family interacts. What they say, what they do, and how they really feel are not at all congruent. It’s all based on appearing pleasant no matter what. It’s interesting as an observer to see how terrified a lot of people are when they’re faced with having to speak honestly.

    Reply
  4. Kat
    ·

    Charles – FWIW, I think arms length is better than completely letting go, or holding on tightly when both parties just keep inflicting more damage. Arms length says “I care about our connection, but how about let’s not keep smacking against each other’s sharp spiny edges for a bit?” And I’ve seen “arms length” create enough space, and enough continued connection, that healing happens. Sometimes.

    It’s interesting to watch the family dynamics of someone else’s family, isn’t it? I think that most families fall into either of the two positions you describe. Either “We are what we are, and what’s wrong with that?” or “Everything is just rosy here. Really.” Both responses don’t actually deal with the unhealthy stuff–one just accepts the yuck as the way things ought to be, and the other refuses to admit there’s any yuck there to be dealt with.

    And all families have some yuck, man. It’s just a matter of degree.

    Reply

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