Generation Gap

After six weeks living with my daughter and her husband while they welcomed their new squab, i have had an odd transition home this time. Re-entry after a long trip often has challenges. Beyond time zones and jet lag, it’s re-learning which way to turn my sink fixture to get hot water, reacquainting myself with where i keep the utensils in my own kitchen, and reestablishing the muscle memory to get me from my bed to the toilet in the dark of night.

But this time? Also feeling the distance. The experience was intense, the relationship with my daughter and her husband stronger and closer. And that little human? How do we not attach when they first start focusing those little eyeballs on our faces? i am not one to go squishy-gooey over babies, but they have a way of stealing hearts if you spend a little time with them.

Another feeling that has also taken me by surprise? The sadness that my parents were never able to see both of my children become parents. That they didn’t have the chance to meet these adorable spawnlets. They also didn’t get to see my surprise transformation into “Gamma”.

It’s a by-product of being born the youngest child of older parents. Mom was 34 when i was born. Dad was 39. Even though i was a young mother – dropping my daughter when i was only 24 years old – my parents were still pretty old when i became a breeder.

My kids were high school age when Dad died in 2001. They remember him, and know him through my stories, but didn’t have as much time with him as they did with my mom. Many happy hours spent talking shit with her over friendly games of poker (she showed no mercy) provided a foundation for their relationship. Their favorite side hustle with her? “Tell us more embarrassing stories about Mom when she was little”.

She happily obliged. The more embarrassing, the more she’d embellish the tale.

The next generation of my clan – these three little critters – will never know my parents. Maybe if they show interest in genealogy when they’re a little older, i can share some direct lore with them. Go through the endless silly pictures. The primary school projects on finding your roots sometimes tease out a few tales.

thoughtful bebek

i barely remember the tales my mother told me of her grandparents. There are bits and pieces written down, photos in black and white with spidery handwritten notes on the back. Eastern European names without many vowels. Tired farm women surrounded by a dozen unsmiling children. My father’s family history is much less clear – his parents were dead before he married mom, and he was an only child of immigrant parents. Not much written down.

And so it goes…

christmas critters

i will do what i can to teach these new little humans about their ancestors. But it’s just a little sad that they will never get to meet in person.

 

 

24 thoughts on “Generation Gap

  1. Three generations…it’s about the maximum for those stories to be told and the generations to meet each other. I got to spend time with my great grandmother (she was stubborn enough that she set a goal to live to 100…so she did, and passed when I was in my mid-20s), but my kids saw their only remaining great as infants.

    • It is pretty rare to see those 4, and even 5 generation, photos. We got a “4” when my oldest sister had her daughter at 20, and Mom’s mother was visiting. Mom was able to spend a lot of time with her two oldest ‘great grands’ – both my older sister, and her daughter, had babies at 20… so the oldest great grand was in her 20’s when Mom died.

      The corollary to this is even a bit more dark: it is highly unlikely that i will live to see these three young humans start their own families. i’ll be lucky to see them graduate high school, or university… (sigh)

  2. My husband’s mother lived to be almost 100, dying a couple of months before her birthday. She had my husband when she was barely 17 (how many 82 year-olds still have their mother?) and she was fortunate enough to see and enjoy several of her great-GREAT-grand kids. Amazing.

    Yes, grand kids certainly have a way of changing us. I looked at it as a way to “atone” for all the goofs and screw-ups I made with my kids. Kind of a chance at a do-over. And we, as grandparents, have the advantage of looking at life from the long game perspective and generally know what stuff to sweat and what stuff we can let go because it’s not worth the bother. And that baby is adorable! Already looking like a little philosopher who has you all figured out. πŸ™‚

    • To get to 5 generations, you need a few of those 17 year old mothers in the mix, and a few stubborn folks who refuse to die before 100!

      You nailed it with the ‘grand’ perspective – that ‘long game’ experience makes it all quite different. When you’re responsible for these tiny new people, overwhelmed and feeling completely unprepared, it’s hard to believe that everything will likely be ok. Ada is a really cute baby – looks like a tiny version of her father, who is a very handsome man!

  3. More than a little sad. My mother was 42 when I was born. I am the youngest by eight years. I never knew any family other than immediate family, and know very little (and even less which is remotely reliable) about the preceding generations. The family has now expanded, and there are three generations – with me belonging to the oldest.
    Forgive me but I was smiling at the necessary muscle memory for those three am toilet treks. It is one of my definitions of home – ‘somewhere where I can go to the toilet at night without turning the light on’.
    I am childless and was never a good aunt. Almost unbelievably I am now (several times over) a great aunt.

    • i’ve had glimpses of this before – i’ve been sad that Studley never met my Dad, and i never met his Mom. But the knowledge that the generations fall off a cliff – always have, and always will – just struck me as a bit of a bummer. It’s a shame i don’t believe in an afterlife where we can all get together and have a big ol’ party.

      Not only do i need to find the toilet in the dark, but being nearly blind without my glasses, i need to find it without being able to see at all! Decades of business travel had me in hotel rooms – usually for no more than one or two nights. i learned to sleep with the TV on as a night light to avoid barking my shins on randomly placed furniture!

      • Your comment about generations just falling off a cliff struck a chord with me. My mother’s maternal grandparents came from Norway to Wisconsin in the 1800’s. They never taught their kids Norwegian and pretty much assimilated into the larger culture. So, end of story, right? Several years ago I took the DNA test at Ancestry.com and thought I’d have a lot of Scandinavian in me. Turns out I had more Finnish/Western Russian. I did some sleuthing and, with the invaluable help of some matches of mine in Norway, found out my great-grandfather (maybe my great-grandmother too) belonged to a recognized minority in Norway called the Forest Finns—descendants of people who migrated from Finland across Sweden in the late 1600’s, eventually landing in the eastern part of Norway. They kept their language and culture alive, even though they were discriminated against and had to learn Norwegian in the schools.

        My great-grandfather pretty much hid this by saying he was born in a more “acceptable” area of Norway, which compounded the difficulty of finding out anything genealogically about him. Thanks to one of my newly found “cousins,” I now have his family tree back to Finland in the 1600’s. It’s opened up a whole new world I would never have known or figured out on my own. Ever. When I see the names of those people, I try to think about what their lives were like and the hardships they endured, which had to be many—women who had large families and lost children in infancy, for example. I’ve come across that several times and it always makes me sad. But just the act of recognizing our predecessors honors them in a way; bringing them back from that cliff of oblivion and into the family again.

        • That’s an incredible discovery! Makes me (almost) want to engage in the DNA testing process. i have a cousin who has done this, and additional digging, and found all sorts of surprises on my Mom’s side. Rather than just “dates” (birth, death, marriage), she’s also gone the extra length to visit some of the towns in the US, dig into the newspaper archives, and unearth a few stories – much better than just those names and dates!

          Are you going to visit your ancestral homeland? The Forest Finns! Sounds like there’s an adventure to be had tracking them down!

      • I’m not the adventurous traveler like you are, daisyfae. I’ve read a lot about that area and joined several Facebook groups who post photos and other info. and have read all kinds of interesting stories about these ancestors. Actually visiting there is not in the cards for me. If I could be teleported, a la Star Trek, that would be great. Then I could be back home in my own bed at the end of the day. πŸ™‚

        • i get it! the more we run around the globe, the more i realize that one of my favorite places to ‘go’ these days is HOME! It really is amazing how flat the earth can be due to the internet. i still get amazed at video calls around the world – that are basically free! Not sure teleportation is in the near future, though!

  4. Yes, I was 37 before I had children (not having the slightest desire to become a father) and Kirsty was 42. I’m not that bothered about having grandchildren and I’m pleased that my girls are quite happy to wait until they’re in a long-term, stable, uncontrolling and financially solvent — in as far as anyone can ever predict that — relationship.

    I too smiled at the route to the loo problem. I will spare you the details of the arrangement, but as someone cursed with nightly interrupted sleep for that reason, I now don’t leave the bedroom πŸ™‚

      • It shows through your words! Small children have their moments, but it’s when our children grow up and find their voices, beliefs and selves that it becomes so much better!

    • i just never expected either of my children to breed. Not sure why that it, but i had never envisioned a scenario where i’d become a grandmother. It all accelerated when The Boy found a woman who already had a sprog – making it happen instantaneously! There was no time to ruminate – i immediately enjoyed it, no introspection required.

      The relief is that both of my children made conscious decisions regarding parenthood. Mine snuck up on me a little – we’d planned to have children ‘after grad school’, but my first pregnancy happened a bit sooner. We were in a good place, despite the train leaving the station before i had the second degree…

      i had a friend who kept a portable unit by his bed to avoid the middle-of-the-night trips. The benefits of being a man!

  5. Holy smokes. Not to make it about me (because I *never* to that) but I was 39 when my first was born. So this hit a little close to home.

    In a million lifetimes you couldn’t have predicted the path your daughter took. I sure didn’t see it coming and I’ve been watching for a long, long time.

    That’s a good looking baby. They’re not universally attractive but that’s a good one.

    • Don’t completely freak out – my Dad was 39 when i was born, and he was by a long shot the greatest influence on who i am as a human. His legacy lives as long as i do! My kids did know him – and appreciate him. Besides, you’re all healthy and shit, and run, and will likely live a lot longer…

      As for life paths, i have to say i didn’t see myself ending up ‘here’, nor my daughter, and especially not my son. We’re not done yet – and i have no doubt there will be many twists and turns ahead… but damn, things sure worked out.

      Ada is a pretty baby. She’s a mini-me of her father, who is a very handsome man! Can’t wait to see what she looks like as she grows up!

  6. There’s a reason that one of my pet projects is writing down things for the boyos. One idea is to place what i’ve written inside album (record) jackets and folded between pages of books but i also talked to someone whose father wrote all this stuff and then took it to a place and had it bound in a hardback book, maybe six copies or so to give to his kids and a few other people, a brilliant idea. I’m sure mine would include some lounge posts in there along with the music and books and moments and history of the people i wanted them to know or know more about. Things maybe you should think about that too Ms. Daisy, i’m sure your kids would enjoy it.

    • i need to do this. Writing it down and hiding it in books/records would be a bad idea for me – The Boy swears that after i kick the bucket, there’s going to be an ‘accidental’ fire that takes care of the estate processing at my place. i need to do the bound book thing… The Boy was a regular reader here at The Trailer Park, but now he’s pretty busy – and even when he was reading, he said he only read the shit about him. Ego. He has a lot of it!

      Still toying with the idea of pulling the best, most poignant stuff, from this here blog and trying to get it into memoir form. That might be the best i could do… and might be worth a little extra effort.

  7. I wonder if our blogs will still be about in 100 years? Will our descendants get to read the things we decided to put in a public place? Or will there be some great event that wipes out the Internet and everything on it? Or will Blogger and WordPress eventually go the way of Bebo and Myspace?
    I remember my mother once quoting someone (can’t remember who), saying that in their life the 3 things a person should do is write a book, plant a tree, and have a child. The point being that all 3 are things that will survive us beyond death. And I think as we get older we become so much more aware of how short life actually is

    • These are good questions. A reminder that i need to consolidate my 10+ years of blog posts somehow. Same thing with photographs – i’ve begun to digitize the old photos of my children, but will that format even survive? Flash drives/external drives are pretty easy to lose. I like your Mother’s approach – and wondering how hard it would be to capture the blog posts, get them printed and bound (without the overwhelming task of editing/sorting)?

      I’m viscerally aware of the clock ticking. Seems that at least once a week i learn of a friend gone, or seriously ill. i find my response to this is to make a lunch date with someone i haven’t seen for awhile. Or send that e-mail… we can’t slow down the clock, but we can work toward not having regrets.

  8. I met my now step-daughter when she was 10yo, she will be 29yo this July. We have a tremendous relationship, never any problems just lots of laughter and hanging out. I’m sad because I didn’t know her as a baby and I didn’t get to watch my husband be a daddy to a baby. I would love to have experienced that with him. But my eggs were out of date when we met and got married. I’m also sad that he didn’t get to meet my dad, they would have really like each other. I look forward to being a grandparent some day with my husband, so I can watch that process. WOW, I just got spooked, what if we don’t live long to see grand babies….I guess that’s why some people believe in heaven

    • i think the best we can do is share those stories – about our parents, about what it was like when your husband was a new dad. Dig out the baby pictures. Have you seen the film “Coco”? As long as we remember those gone, they can still live on…

      This is a tough subject. i’m still chewing on it a week after i posted it. In some ways, it focuses on the dark side of the coin. Yeah, it’s sad that Studley didn’t get to meet my Dad, but i’m still quite lucky that he’s in my life now! Good to be mindful of the other side of that coin, i guess…

  9. the MITM and I both grew up grandparents and for a short time we both had great-grandparents. Our grandchildren only know us, but their parents knew great-grands and grandparents. We’ve been saving photos and writing on the back names and dates!
    Your granddaughter is A D O R A B L E!!!!
    xoxox

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