Living in a multigenerational household can be tricky, and you can’t know exactly what it will be like till you take the plunge, although I can’t pretend that the clues weren’t always there. It has its pluses, and it has its foibles, but this is not the format to point out the pros and cons, particulary since the die is cast, at least for the present moment. In my case this entailed buying a house with my oldest daughter, Rachael, her husband and two amazing children, ages five and seven-months-old. Living in San Francisco is expensive, so it seemed to be a plausible solution at the time, at least economically. My 27-year-old daughter, Skye, also lives here and is the baby’s nanny. It doesn’t appear that Skye is going anywhere anytime soon (think, never) even though she has often spoken of going back to school and/or starting a business venture. Come to think of it, I haven’t heard mention of those pursuits for a long time, and why should that be surprising? She lives in a nice home with a nice pool and other amenities, to which she has come become accustomed. Skye (yes, I used to be a pseudo hippie) is creative, discerning, striking and funny if you go for the sarcastic brand of humor implanted deep in our family DNA. Skye is definitely not your garden variety lady. She is in fact a take it- or leave it original who you either love or love to hate. She is also moody, difficult and a bonafide pothead.
My oldest daughter,Rachael, is a brilliant, overextended introvert with a demanding career and the determination to be the best mommy on the planet despite being pulled in a million different directions. Between her father, his deceased wife, his present wife and me, she has 92 siblings (or maybe I’m thinking of that new comedy that’s coming out about a sperm donor). Actually she only has 12 sisters and one brother. Being the oldest in my clan of four and also one of the oldest amongst the rest of her tribe, she exhibits the characteristics of first born syndrome big time. Responsible, check, generous, check, rescuer, two thumbs way up. If Rachael was an inanimate object, she would be a rock, and you know what people do with rocks: they climb on them or hide behind them. Though often weary, there must be a payoff in Rachael allowing this to happen. Maybe it’s because she is considered to be indeflatable and indestructable by the hordes of rock climbers who are friends and family. Though this is none of my business, I can’t pretend that it’s none of my concern. She is stretched as thin as phyllo dough, and I want to save her. This is what living with your offspring will do for you. It will allow you to make observations that you wouldn’t make if they lived in San Francisco, and you lived in Muncie, Indiana.
My son-in-law, Kevin, is an affable fellow who lost his mother at a young age and refers to me as “mom.” I am probably the closest thing to a maternal figure that he has ever known. He is a supremely talented artist. In fact, 98 percent of him is about his art, which ony leaves two percent for ambition and drive. You do the math. Did I mention that Rachael is stressed out? It’s hard not to like Kevin when I base it on our interaction, and I love that he is an attentive father. It’s a little more challenging at times when I observe him in the role of husband/provider, and for the sake of sanity and in the interest of being a non-meddling roomie, we will now close this topic.
Then there are the kids. Katelyn, the five-year-old, attends a progressive private school where diversity is celebrated unless you hold Christian beliefs, and then censorship is strongly encouraged. Recently the class did a unit on a holiday called “The Day of the Dead.” Katelyn announced that she and her mommy and daddy would be likely to celebrate that holiday the next time it rolled around, and that they would definitely celebrate it on my behalf when I died. “I’ll be looking forward to that,” I responded. I did say we were a sarcastic family, remember? I don’t think my granddaughter picked up on that in her eagerness to have a familiar person bite the dust, thus making the holiday more meaningful. Perhaps there will even be a piñata.
The truth is I am committed to each one of them, but sometimes I would like it to be from a distance, and I’m sure all the adults in the house feel the same way…about me and about each other. Until some nice, financially secure, God loving widower comes along to rescue me from my present predicament you will find me here in San Francisco where little cable cars climb halfway to the stars , firmly entrenched in my role as resident matriarch while attempting to delay playing a starring role in the Day of The Dead celebration.