My mom is my favorite knitter and, while I have many times tried to encourage her to expand her crochet skills, she rarely picks up a hook, even though she was the one who taught me and my sister. My daughter is the same way and this is not the only characteristic those two generations share. My folks came for a visit not long ago (one of the reasons it has been a while since an updated post) and I really noticed the similarities between my kids and my folks. I also noticed how having parents as house guests help one appreciate the little differences in how we live our lives and how their visits have changed as we all have matured.
In my 20s, I had something to prove about how well I could take care of myself so I cleaned every inch of my house and tried (alright, I admit "try" is the operative word here, rather than "succeed.") to make the place perfect. In my early 30s, I wanted to show that I could take care of my family, so in addition to cleaning up the house, I took on the unattainable goal of perfecting my family. In my late 30s, I got smart and realized that they needed to be occupied while they visited. I certainly didn't want to disappoint them, so I would leave a few cleaning tasks for my mom to occupy herself with and made a to-do list for my dad. I fondly refer to my early 40s as the Golden Age of Parental Visitation. I rightly embraced the philosophy of my late 30s and started saving up housework from the day they left until the day they came back on their next visit. Ok, maybe that is taking it a little too far, but I REALLY liked that approach. Now, in my mid-40s, I realize that my parents are on to me, much like they were when I was a teen, and when they come over, all they do is sit around, visit with my kids, read, and nap.
I have to say, I'm not sure I like where this is going. Since my kids are a little older and don't wake up in the middle of the night or need to be served, my parents don't feel sorry for me anymore. Since I no longer have a drama queen, non supportive husband making more work for me, they don't feel sorry for me anymore. Since I don't have a full time stressful job, they don't feel sorry for me anymore. While I enjoy the reality of why the pity is gone, I really DID enjoy getting work out of them. Ah well, I suppose you can't have your cake and eat it, too.
I'm not sure how it happened, but that Golden Age of Parental Visitation has morphed into a slightly altered mental version of my children's toddler years. Don't get me wrong, I loved the charm and joi de vive of the toddler years and how they lived in the moment, but if you are fundamentally lazy, like me, the toddler years are not a good time to start a new hobby. In case you haven't noticed, I am all about starting new hobbies these days. Retired parents possess the wisdom similar to toddlers in that they have relearned how to live in the moment; the energy level is a little toned down, but it is the same outlook. While I am working toward that goal and proudly get closer everyday, I still have a way to go. As a result, retired parents' wisdom changes your daily life during their visits. Here are the things that I noticed as being the same or similar to keeping house with toddlers and retired parents:
You go to bed before 9:30
You wake up before 7 after hearing impatient footsteps (little fast ones with children, big slow one with retired parents)
You cringe whenever you hear a distasteful word on the telly or radio (even something like "damn"), and peek to see if they heard it
You actually make an effort to include vegetables and fruit in each meal
You go to great lengths to avoid conversation about news, politics, or anything else unpleasant
You make and drink lots and lots of coffee
Your furniture keeps ending up in the wrong place
You are (more) tired when you go to bed at night
You are constantly amazed by the weird and creative things they do
When you wake up in the morning, you appreciate this time you have, knowing you are lucky to have them around