Daily Archives: July 31, 2015

Guest Post by our Son in California (and me)


Recently, our 16yo daughter traveled out to California to visit her big brother, at his invitation. He shares a little about his experience here:

This is the last day of my sister’s stay in California (she flies out tomorrow morning at 7:30). She’s spent most of this week relaxing in a beach house 200 yards from the Pacific Ocean, watching Steven Universe and making s’mores, while back home my 19-year-old brother continues to work his way through addiction and recovery, which ends up being a higher priority than being a big brother.

At a conservative estimate, AJ has gone without a real big-brother figure for about 16 years, and without one at all for over 2 now, ever since I moved out. I have a little bit of insider knowledge on this subject: my girlfriend has been essentially abandoned by both older brothers for the past ten years.

I wasn’t really ready for how much I missed my sister. Even though I tried to play it cool (classic big brother stuff) I was beyond excited to see her, more than I’ve been in months. Suddenly everything seemed back to normal again, despite all the stress I’ve had in the last six months. It felt like it had been less than a day since I’d moved out.

As much as I might miss home, there are things and people and places in California you can’t find in Ohio. After years of keeping my head lodged in my own butt, I finally have a chance to show my little sister my world. I wouldn’t trade this chance for anything.

Our daughter had a most wonderful time with our son and his girlfriend and we were delighted she had the opportunity to visit him. Although a wee bit nervous about flying alone all the way across the US, she was a trouper, as we knew she would be. It’s a lovely thing to see our adult (and near-adult) children being their wonderful selves. Although not all the sibling relationships among our children are tight right now, I remember there was a day when I and my sisters were not the best of friends that we are now.

When Jude (California son) flew out for that initial job interview at 18 years of age, he was much different than he is now at 21. He has found an entire world out there that we don’t have in Ohio. I attribute a good bit of this to his girlfriend who first coaxed him out of his shell and then introduced him to many new ideas and experiences. I think it was she who helped him discover how much he wanted to be in relationship with his younger sister.

I know other parents who read my blog understand the joy in watching children become adults, and discovering who they are going to become. It has been one of the greatest joys of my life. And I think there is another trip to CA being cooked up by these two!

My answer to a question on Quora

Quora is a social media website where people post questions and other people answer them. I get emails about parenting questions and sometimes I answer them. Here is today’s question and my answer:

Q: How do I balance the needs of my wonderful aging parents, my wonderful adult children, and my little grandchildren when they live 1,300 miles apart?

My answer: I’m in a “wonderful adult children” group, but I have children and had grandparents and still have a mother. 

What my grandmother loved was receiving telephone calls. If she were still living, I think she would love to Skype. What meant so much to her was to feel that her family had time for her. So, letters, phone calls, photos, anything that let her know we were thinking of her. For that generation, tangible things are best. Actual photos can be carried around and shared with their friends.

Your adult children are likely swamped with life. The things we treasure are gifts of time and gifts of food. I love it when my mother provides a meal for my family, either by delivering it or having us over. And when she takes cares of my young son, that is a HUGE blessing. To me, food and time are even better than money!

For grandchildren, I think their real need is to know that someone cares enough to spend time, to listen, to look them in the eyes. Of course they like it when surprises arrive in the mail, but nothing takes the place of time spent together walking, playing, visiting the zoo, etc. 

Overall, facilitating intergenerational experiences is a wonderful way to balance the needs. Create a round robin letter that gets sent from family to family and added on to at each home before sending on. Start a blog! When I began posting on a daily basis, my mom was thrilled. Even if we don’t talk that day, she still sees pictures, hears about what I’m doing, hears about the grandkids, and just has a sense for what our daily life is like. Find ways that make sense to you to create connection between the generations. 

Experiences are the things that create the memories that never fade.