Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Full House

... and I wish I were referring to that 90's sitcom, but I'm not. I'm referring to my house.

There's me, Deus Ex Machina, Big Little Sister, Little Fire Faery, and Precious, the two dogs and ten chicks (who will be heading outside in another week with the eight chickens, four ducks and nine bunnies who are currently in the backyard).

There's Mama Daughter, Mr. Field-and-Stream, Miss Cheevus, and Herman, the guinea pig.

And now, my son is visiting, too. But he's just visiting for a couple of days.

It makes one think, though, about the what-ifs.

Deus Ex Machina and Mr. Field-and-Stream are at work. Mama Daughter, Miss Cheevus and Prodigal Son are out and about. So, it's just me and the girls, which is usual. We were talking about how many people are here in the house right now. In a few months, if nothing changed and Prodigal Son had to stay here, we'd have ten people living here, including the new baby.

I told them that there are places in the world where the houses are smaller, and it isn't unusual to house multiple generations and a large number of people in a house half the size of ours. The way we're living right now, with the three generations and two families under the same roof, is the way most people live. In fact, our "normal" life is abnormal compared to the rest of the world, and even compared to the way my parents grew up. My mother's uncle lived with them, and my father had nine siblings.

And in the above-mentioned 90's sitcom, the household consisted of a single-dad, his three children, and the "uncles" (I don't recall their exact relationship to the father).

So, my girls and I talked about how we'd have to arrange things to accommodate us all, and it wouldn't be easy. Perhaps Mama Daughter and Mr. Field and Stream would need a little more space than just that one small room they have, and certainly, Prodigal Son would end up with a day bed or a pull-out couch (he's sleeping on the cot set-up in the living room). I'd, almost certainly, lose my "office" space, which would be turned into our common area, or perhaps, what is, currently, our "living room" would be divided and half would be Prodigal Son's space and the other half an office space for Deus Ex Machina and me.

A couple of years ago when the economy took its serious nose-dive, I read a blog article about the exact thing we're living with right now - the brother-in-law on the couch or the fact that as our economy contracts and we all get poorer, we will, by necessity, end up sharing our houses with extended family. At the time, I fantasized about how I would change my space to accommodate a relative in need of a place to crash, or how I could rearrange things to take in a Boarder, or two (kind of like what Kit's family does in the American Girl series that is set during the 1930s).

I've long asserted that we should take every step necessary to keep our houses, especially those of us who live in the suburbs and have the extra space to spare. Taking in a couple of roommates who could help us pay the mortgage is a no-brainer.

Reality is never exactly like the visions in our heads, though.

That's not, necessarily, a bad thing, because sometimes even less idyllic is okay.

What I've learned through this process is that we do, indeed, have enough space for more people. We thought we'd be overcrowded and tripping over each other, but that's not the case.

Ideally, Mama Daughter and Mr. Field-and-Stream will be able to get a place of their own -- sooner rather than later -- and we'll get our space back so that we can continue our work of powering down (building a cold closet, getting rid of redundant electronics, replacing carpets, digging a well, et cetera).

But if they have to stay a little longer than we'd all anticipated, we know that it will be okay, if not perfect.

And, in the meantime, we've been given this opportunity to learn from each other ...

... maybe some of what Deus Ex Machina and I have been learning for the past four years will rub off on them, and they'll put their feet on the preparedness path a little more firmly so that they'll be better prepared for what's coming ...

... and maybe their more conventional lifestyle and attitudes will help keep Deus Ex Machina and me a little more grounded in reality, because when it's just us, it's easy to forget that not everyone lives (believes) the way we do.

Perhaps we'll provide a balance for each other.

But it would probably still be better if they find their own place -- sooner rather than later -- :).


  1. You inspire me. I've always loved the idea of multi generational family living. My family is an example of how not to do it - I love that your family is working through it together and being an example of how it could work.

  2. i find it odd how different people have been placed in my path to change my life-course. many times the same people helped at different vertices. the people that seemed to make the largest difference and make me embrace a guiding star were quixotic yet their zeal was a gentle tide. warm tropical waves lapping at my ankles as i tested their waters. my stance would readjust as my foundation slipped away with each passing ebb.

    our house is small but only in developed nation standards. our house is a mansion to most of the world. it feels like a mansion to me. in a near future people will need to live more communally. we are nurturing that idea in our children. they will always have a place to live here.

    although, there is plenty of room for a cob cottage on the back of this property;) having no privacy with children is completely different than having no privacy with adults.