Skipping over the Middle Generation

The image of my adult children sitting on the patio, sipping cocktails with my mother makes me realize that: a) I am getting older, and b) I am no longer a crucial link in their connections, so therefore c) I must have done something right as a parent.

cocktail

Cheers!

My son and daughter took their first extended trip together and flew across the country- taking a break from work and other obligations. Of all the exotic or exciting places they could have chosen to spend their vacation time, they desired to see their grandmother. None of us had seen her since my daughter’s commencement last spring. Since then, a lot of things have happened for the better or worse and it definitely felt like a visit was long overdue.

We have traveled as a family for an annual visit almost every year, but this time the “kids” took matters into their own hands and planned their trip without the Middle Generation getting involved. As much as I would have loved to join them, I knew this would be a wonderful way for the two of them to reconnect with their grandmother on their own terms and without any interference from me. In fact, if my husband or I had been there, the dynamics of the visit would have been much different.

By skipping over the middle generation, the grandparent and grandchildren had no competition for attention and knew exactly where they stood in relation to the members of their trio. From the limited text messages or photos I received during the week, I could tell they were enjoying each other’s company. They also felt they could speak openly to her and tap into her life experiences and non-judgmental personality. In exchange, she was able to form a new bond with her grandchildren as adults with their own goals and dreams.

While it would have been nice to be a fly on the wall, overhearing all the interesting conversations they likely had, I am very happy to know they had this special time together without me. It is nice to know that the middle generation doesn’t always need to be the mediator or facilitator to make things happen. And as I reflect on the thought of the cocktail hour on the patio, between a grandmother and her now adult grandchildren, all I can say is how grateful I am that our family has this strong intergenerational bond. I am content that I have done my job.

Til Death Do Us Part

My previous post was about changes in family due to death or remarriage. Today I am going to discuss divorce.

Nearly half of all marriages in the U.S. end in divorce. This trend was apparent when I was a teenager in the late 70’s. A high percentage of my friends were going through a parental divorce. By the time I graduated from high school, it had happened to so many peers that I was proud my parents were still happily married.

Little did I foresee that within ten years they would get divorced- just three weeks after my own wedding. Thankfully, their principles of marriage seemed unshakeable to me at the time and they did not reveal their intentions, knowing that my faith in the permanence of my wedding vows to my betrothed, would be swept away in confusion.

Couples divorce for many reasons. I know my parents still loved each other, but for some reason they felt a need to go their own ways. I appreciate that they are still friends today and we can have family gatherings together. Unfortunately, the six months after my wedding, when I learned my parents were splitting and my new husband suffered a heart attack (not fatal), were the most devastating moments of my life- shattering my rosy concept of marriage and “for better or for worse, til death do us part”.

The days I spent in the hospital, holding my husband’s hand was relieved by having both of my parents by my side. Because they could be there for me, together, and put aside their differences, I was able to heal the pain in my heart. It also made me stronger and more determined to keep my own marriage on track, through all the trials and challenges of raising a family.

I don’t want to repeat my family history and have nothing in common with my husband once the kids are gone. It isn’t always easy to find time to be together, to talk, to express our desires, our dreams- but we certainly make an effort. Even though my parents’ divorce was heart-wrenching, I was able to take away some lessons from it:

*Don’t ever take love for granted.

*Always make time to talk to each other. Whatever the troubles are, they are better handled together.

*Look beyond the horizon. The kids will be gone in a few years (in my case, 5). Reinforce our bond at least once a week so that we revel in each other’s company when we are on our own again.

* Remember why we fell in love in the first place and try to recreate that feeling at least once a year.

*Give each other space to do their own thing; but also find activities you enjoy doing together.

By following these steps, hopefully we won’t have to put the whole puzzle of our marriage back together when we become empty-nesters; but only will have to pick up a dropped stitch here and there. I have a picture in my mind of my husband and I, sitting on our front porch with a glass of wine in our hands and our walkers by our sides, enjoying the view of the sunset and reflecting on old times.