Living Multigenerationally

NanoWrimo day 4

Multigenerationally is possibly a word I made up, although I think it’s meaning is clear. I live in a multigenerational house. My husband I and our two children share a home with my mom and dad, three generations of people all under one roof. It was never our plan to live with my parents, although I have to say the idea was not foreign to me. My grandma lived with me and my mom and dad when I was little. She would come and stay for entire summers to help my mom take care of me. Later in her life when she was diagnosed with dementia she lived with us for several years. Ultimately we had to move her to a care home, and that is a decision my mom and I still regret. My older cousin even lived with us for a year or two at a time. Culturally this has always seemed normal to me, not just because I knew other hispanic families who all lived together but because for my family it was just what we did to help one another.

My husband, bless him, had a more difficult transition but he handles the day to day stressors of having six people under one roof with more grace than even I do at times. Our decision to move in together was multifaceted. The economy is oppressive, we were barely making ends meet on what should be more than enough income. With student loans and monthly bills on top of utilities and groceries we were always behind. That doesn’t even take in to account any extra curricular activities our kids might be interested in. Or that fact that their feet and legs seems to grow three inches every month, they constantly need shoes and pants! The housing market is like an unreasonable toddler with parent mortgage companies ridiculous expectations preventing most families from even pre-qualification. Finally, the cultural standards and expectations of families are unrealistic. One parent in the office over 40 hours a week leaves the primary care giver feeling like a single parent.

Consolidating households seemed like a logical way to offset the stressors and demands of modern day living in a flailing economy. Not only do we help provide for each other financially we are able to support each other emotionally. My parents buy the groceries and clothes and shoes for the children as well as provide home and car insurance. My husband I make the mortgage, utility, and car payments. Since we are able to share the financial burden we are also able to enjoy extras like Netflix and prime video streaming services. My husband is able to work late without worrying that his wife and children are home alone. I am able to work freelance jobs from home while entrusting my children are not neglected because my mom and dad are here to pick up the slack. My children are loved and supported by four loving care givers at all times.

Seeing the bond between my children and my parents grow has become my favorite thing about multigenerational living. They have a special and cherished relationship that I hope will leave a lasting impression on them. Some of my favorite memories are the times I spent with my grandma when she lived with us. She taught me many things; how to crochet, how to make corn cobs in to back scratchers, how to make some of my favorite foods and family recipes. Now my children are getting to have these same experiences. Even though at times I can tell my older daughter is nonplussed by the benefits, I think as she grows she will value this time in her life forever.

Multigenerational living is of course not without it’s challenges. My parents are different people from my husband and I. We all have different ideas and motivations, sometimes there is tension. Sometimes we fight, sometimes we are so frustrated with each other and the constantly limited space that we all have to occupy separate rooms for hours. Despite these challenges we all come together to love and support and help each other. I say it’s time to normalize multigenerational households.

 

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