If you think you know yourself well, nothing busts that myth wide open like family moving back in. My husband, David, and I have lived as empty nesters for years, so it's easy to go on my merry way confident in my own self-assessments. All that might change. Star, our daughter, son-in-law Joe, and their two little girls, Bella (7) and Lulu (4), just moved in with us. My self-labeling might peel (I am patient, kind, and loving). Ours is an experimental laboratory in the power of prayer.
Like others in this economy, a mortgage proved to be too much for my daughter's family, and they needed to regroup financially. We join other "boomerang" families, that is, the trend of adult kids returning to roost with parents. According to Pew Social and Demographic Trends, a majority of such adult children (78 percent) report satisfaction with the living arrangements, and feel hopeful about their future finances (77 percent). About 89 percent of children contribute to shared costs, and only 25 percent report bad effects on relationships with their parents.
You might be asking, "And what about you?" I'm not worried about money, housework, or babysitting gigs. Privacy and preferences are the last frontiers. I'm about to be studied by a fresh group of observers. For example, every couple has a rhythm for TV watching, and my husband and I are in our groove. David likes action films. Yuck, but I go along. When he's traveling, which is often, I surround myself with hoarders, serial killers and stylists. Now with our granddaughters moving in, I'll have to trade "Dexter" for "Tangled."
Ours is a very close family that pulls together well, based on each other's strengths and weaknesses, but now, it is no longer a matter of sharing a great day or a week's vacation, and then going home separately. We are home. I view myself as helpful, sensitive, and flexible. Nice adjectives that will be put to the test.
They plan to live with us for about a year, but who knows? Some friends have expressed concern, some condolences. Familiarity breeds contempt and all that. Don't be the built-in babysitter. Draw your boundaries now, they advise. Some feel this situation will end well, while others fear a future rift. But who can know for sure?
Ecclesiastes 7:14 reads, "When times are good, be happy; but when times are bad consider: God has made the one as well as the other. Therefore, a man cannot discover anything about his future."
Boxes are everywhere, and my granddaughters are over the moon with excitement. Lulu's eyes sparkled. "Come look at our new room!" as the two sisters jumped onto their bunk beds, surrounded by Teddy bears, clothing bags, boxes, and princess costumes stacked high against the wall.
"What do you think?" asked Lulu.
Page 2 of 2 - "It's amazing. It's like an episode right out of ‘Hoarders,'" I said.
In the morning when my kitchen floors are sticky, I wonder aloud, "Who's carrying jam between their toes?" Bella says, "Mommy says Lulu's got gecko feet." It's an Ecclesiastes moment, times are good and I feel happy, (and clueless about where it's all going). Prayer is paramount!
Email Suzette Standring at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow her national blog through GateHouse News Service: http://www.patriotledger.com/community/blogs/spiritual-cafe.