Thursday, 24 October 2013

Three generational living

I've been on the verge of losing my temper several times today, and been quite frustrated, and I am not proud of myself at all.  Patience is a virtue, and I need to develop some!

The FH is coming up to his 76th birthday, I've just had my 41st, the EFG is 17 and the YFG 14.  Quite a spread of ages living together as one family.  Nothing particularly special, but different from the norm, perhaps.  On our street, there are other multigenerational households, where three generations live together, but their family dynamic is slightly different.

There's the old lady who lives in the annexe of the house where her daughter's family live, and there's another residence where it is even more complicated than us in that the oldest generation live in a static caravan in the garden, and in the house, there are three more generations of the family......and whilst these are biggish houses, they are not mansions and some of them are bursting at the seams!

In our house, as you know, the FH and I are married, and so there are no other spouses in our respective generations who understand our take on situations, and with whom to share the frustrations.  I know that the FH has felt as cross about some things as I have, but we haven't argued - we don't!  It isn't a huge issue but it is one into which I need to put some thought, and maybe some actions, not the least prayers.

I know that some of the things I do and say wind him up, but then things that he does and says are frustrating to me at times: we've been to the rheumatologist for the third time today, and despite lots of preparation, the FH asked the chap what causes gout......I know that he has explained it to the FH on both the previous visits!  Similarly, we know that the FH hates football, but we really don't need to have the full force of his hatred every time that it is mentioned in print or on tv.  For my part, I have been very busy lately with school stuff, and I know he would appreciate it if I was able to put more time into preparing more interesting meals, for example.

It is good for the FH to have UJ here, as they are a similar age, they get along well and they provide company and chat for one another.  They can peruse their memories and share their stories in a way that I can't take part, because I don't have the memories.  The FH also enjoys spending time with his mates from the lunch club, again because they remember old times and share stories.  This is becoming a bigger part of his life now, and it is one in which I struggle to participate.  It is also good for him to get out and share his love and knowledge of beekeeping, although he has had to admit that he is not up to keeping his own colonies any longer.

I am still at a time in my life where I want to grow and develop and learn new things, but that time has passed for the FH and he shows no interest in any new ideas or learning.  His attitude is somewhat that the old ways are the best [and sometimes he is very right in that assertion].

Are we growing apart?  No.  We are still growing together, but at different rates - his rate of growth has almost stilled, but mine is still moving forward.  Our paths are entwined, and we need to look at ways to make the flowers at the side of the paths flourish so that the way ahead is an attractive one, rather than a chore.  The path is slightly uphill at the moment, and we must pull together to achieve a co-operative, happy lifestyle for the whole family.  I am keenly aware that we must remain an inclusive family and not let age or infirmity limit the involvement of the FH in family life.  To that end, I am encouraging him to do what he can with the girls, and to be a vital part of all our lives.

Sometimes the relationships between the girls and the FH need a bit of mediation, and I am not as good at that as perhaps I could be.  They are teenagers, and most men of his age are not living in a house where they have to contend with hair straightners on the landing on a daily basis [he hasn't tripped over them yet because I usually get there first and pick them up], with them having friends round for sleepovers and the anxious days of exams.  They are both very good at supporting me with looking after him if he is poorly, for which I am constantly grateful.

Thinking about the quality of our lives here, I still think we are incredibly blessed, and I will continue to advocate for the FH whenever he wants me to when we are dealing with doctors and other medical staff, as I understand his thoughts on the way he wants to live now.  Quality of life is an important yard stick for us all, however old we are!


DeliveringGrace said...

This must be quite a challenge. We are a three generational family too although with a different structure: my husband's mother lives with us. Our age range spans from late 80s to 4. It can be interesting at times!
I don't have any wisdom on this-we both need to keeping praying to the One who has wisdom.

Lyssa Medana said...

Hugs! Three generations here too, though father is more adventurous than DH. It's a people thing, and it's hard and you sometimes have to dig deep. They are very lucky to have you! Don't forget to look after yourself. WS xxx

Angela said...

Even in the families where there is much love and joy and hope, there are always times when patience, peace and longsuffering occasionally run in short supply! The complications of the dfifferent generations being in the same household, combined with different expectations regarding budgetting, and health issues can work together to create friction and frustration when you really don't want it to. Typing this as daughter and partner are staying with us - and I LOVE having them here, but aware that their eating/sleeping/spending patterns are so very different, and I mustn't make a fuss over trivia. And I am aware this is just a few are living with a multigeneration household 24/7. Your special time WILL come - but maybe just in snatched moments - appreciate the long baths and good books and the happy conversations over the cups of tea. I suspect that trip to Wales has left you more tired than you expected - you sound uncharacteristically 'low' in this post.
you're in my thoughts and prayers xx
ps don't you DARE rush round tidying up before our visit - as long as there are 2 chairs and a pot of tea on the table, we will not notice any dust [I have spent 34 yrs training Bob Not To Notice!!]

Morgan said...

Thank you all for your comments and your wisdom.

@Ang - there is a lot of truth in what you say, but there is also the realisation that I want to reflect all of our life in this blog, and not present too perfect a lifestyle - this is us, warts and all! And no, I won't do a lot of tidying, but I might try to get the ironing into the airing cupboard!

@Lyssa and SarahElisabeth - it is reassuring to know that I am not the only one struggling sometimes in this arrangement, and your words are comforting - thank you xx

rabbitquilter said...

What a thought provoking read!! I am 8yrs younger than my husband, but he seems old in his attitude which causes problems with our 23yr old son. What I find so difficult to understand is not age difference, but 'only child' syndrome, which my husband is! He wouldn't know how to share if it bit him on the bottom!!!!! Whereas I have a brother and it was normal to 'share'. I am grateful that both my boy's take after me for that and they willingly share anything with anybody! Each family has it's problems and they prove to often be hard-going, unfortunately!! We are all tested in different ways I guess. Keep your head up and face the sunshine!! But apparently not much of that this weekend!!!! X

Morgan said...

@rabbitquilter - thank you - I don't have the problem with the sharing as the FH is actually quite selfless and will often say that his needs are few - and they are! He very rarely wants anything for himself at all.

He is a little strange about giving things to charity though, so every time I share that I have donated to this, that or the other, I also remind him of my savings total for the year so that he can see that the family finances are not suffering for the sake of donations.

Thanks for sharing xx