Living in a Multi-Generational Household

Three months ago we moved. And when I say “we” I mean, my husband, myself, our 3 children, and my parents.

We didn’t move to another house, or neighborhood, or city. We moved 2000 miles away from every (thing and one) we knew and called home.

And when I say “moved 2000 miles away” what I really mean to say is, that God took the shoe box of our lives, put the lid on it, shook it up as hard as He could, stuffed us into the barrel of a canon and shot us from Southern California, right into the middle of Tennessee.
The circumstances surrounding our resounding departure are not really important right now, but there is something about our lifestyle that is very interesting to most people who meet us.

We lived right next door to my parents in SoCal for 8 years. Here in Tennessee, we live under the same roof.

I have had so many questions over the years about living multi-generationally, first on the same property, and now under the same roof.  “Do you all get along?” and “How do your mom and husband get along?” and “Do your kids love living with their Grandparents?” are some common questions.

But then comments like, “I could never do that!” or “I would rather pour peroxide in my eyes!” have also been made in our direction.

Let me just say that it has its pros and cons like everything else, and I really don’t think it’s for everyone, but on the whole, it’s been a good fit for my family.

We have learned a great deal of tongue biting, and grown to see more humor in our circumstances than I think we would have if we lived another way.  God, after all, invented the sense of humor, so why wouldn’t He see fit to make some of our lives funnier than others?
There is nothing about my parenting that I can “cover up” for my parents. Do you know how strange it is, at 40, to be yelling at disciplining my children and wonder if I’m going to get in trouble from my own mother for raising my voice?

And we see each other’s marriages too. Imagine that! My parents see what I feed my husband, when we go to bed and what we argue about, and we see them bickering and laughing themselves through their days.

I try to keep my Philistine 6 year old boy from driving them crazy and sucking all of the energy out of the house and I get to take pictures while my mom and my girls cook together, often.

It’s tricky at times and I do find myself wondering what it would be like if . . . but I would be doing that in any circumstance because contentment is an elusive goal and my flesh rages against the status quo, it’s just my walk.

Imagine living your life so transparently! Imagine not being able to get the kids ready for Gramma and Grampa? Or clean your kitchen before you “have them over for dinner”!?

Imagine debating over cloth or paper napkins . . . forever, because the folks you share a kitchen with think you’re a tree-huggin’ Libertarian nutter? Wow. It’s not that it’s so difficult, it’s just so different.
Now, we get to what I’ve learned. It goes like this:

Transparency leads to Reality which leads to Shame which leads to Humility which leads to Humor which leads to Joy and Peace. After all, if you can’t see yourself through the eyes of others and get a good laugh out of it occasionally, you are missing something in your process of self-examination.
What I find really interesting about this process of discovery that has come through living like this, is the similarity to my Christian life. God sees it all (transparency), at first I am shamed, then humbled, then my heart changes, which gives me a new perspective and He gives me Joy and Peace. The fact that God uses every situation to show Himself to His Children is more proof that He is real!

Your process will be different than mine, not everyone will live with their parents and their children at the same time.

And sometimes I feel quite like the gum on the bottom of a shoe, being pressed between the pavement and the sole but that is how God has chosen to sanctify my life, one hilarious episode at a time. I love living together with our three generations and at this time in our lives (all of our lives) it is a perfect, transparent fit.

About Charissa Ragsdale
Charissa lives in the creative chaos of photography, crochet, cooking, crafting, natural birth advocacy, blogging, homeschooling, gardening, window shopping and since she loves trying out new stuff, it's a sure thing that the list will grow longer in time.
Though there is much joy and fruit in all of this, it comes with it's own Madness and Charissa knows that to get through it, she must depend on the Grace and Mercy of a Creator God whose Love knows no bounds.

Charissa is journaling all of the Madness on her blog
Mad Mad me and her hope is that through sharing and showing the work of her hands and the joys and trials of her heart, others will be encouraged to embrace the Beautiful Chaos that comes with Family and learning to Love and Create.


Unknown said...

It is so interesting reading this after seeing it. And now knowing what was holding you together. I know our 5 months was hard, but I think in part it was because of temporariness of it all.

Carrie Peña said...

What a beautiful expression of gratefulness, love and reality! Thank you for sharing this blogger. She is a very talented woman. said...

You're welcome Carrie. I'm thankful to have her! :)

karen said...

I just love this post!!!

~just.emma~ said...

REALLY enjoyed what you wrote, Charissa! Thank you for sharing!

Mrs. Graham Gardens said...

"...forever, because the folks you share a kitchen with think you’re a tree-huggin’ Libertarian nutter?"

This line cracked me up! Love this post, Charissa.

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