Vibing with Cat White
Coexisting, A Generational Experiment
The past few months have been a whirlwind of activity as my sister, a travel nurse, left for a new assignment in Colorado, and my 23-year-old nephew, Nathan, and ‘I’m not allowed to tell’-years-old mother, moved in. With me.
A Boomer, Gen-X and Gen-Zer. Oh my!
It’s been … interesting.
I’ve made several observations: some surprising, some disturbing, some highly amusing, some, a little surreal.
Living with a septuagenarian and vicenarian at the same time that I’m trying to survive menopause, is a trip! Often, I’ve found myself in the unique position of being able to identify with them both, whether it relates to generational or familial patterns and behaviors.
I’ve noticed that, the older we get, the more we want to enlighten the youth with our “wisdom” – the little tips and lessons we’ve learned from having lived a while and “been through some things”. While I don’t think I’ve ever been as blatantly impatient and exasperated as Nathan has, on occasion, displayed towards my helpful suggestions, in actuality, I probably was when I was in my 20s. I, for sure, thought I knew everything back then. Boy, did Life have some surprises for me!
MY mom likes to follow me around the house, offering me … observations and unsolicited “advice” on, pretty much, everything. In the moment, it’s exasperating. However, I know she’s just trying to connect, share wisdom, and she’s got no idea how annoying she’s being. This behavior, in particular, helps me identify with Nathan. I mean, I’m not following him around like a MAD woman. I’m more of a “pop-in” person. I like to just stop at Nay’s bedroom door to share little pearls of wisdom that he may find useful in the future. When his Aunt Cat isn’t around to save his butt (wink wink). I’m pretty sure Nay’s annoyed by my ‘pop-ins’, though. Especially since he’s said as much.
As many of you know, mother-daughter relationships can be complicated. I mean, even the best moms can be a little annoying. Though the nosey meddling may be well-meaning, it can be a wee bit irritating.
Growing up, I distinctly remember that on numerous occasions, my mom muttered as we returned from one of our weekly visits to Grandma’s house, ‘If I ever start to act like HER, let me know!’ Frustrated, no doubt, by some unsolicited nitpicky criticism that my Grandma was known to offer often, and indicating that she would change her behavior if informed of it. Strangely I can identify with my mom, then and now.
Over the last couple months of living together, I’ve noticed several similarities between mom and me. We both have entire conversations with our pets, which leads to constant confusion. I care for five animals – two dogs, three cats, so I’m talking all the time. Which makes my mom think I’m talking to her half the time. My mom has a cat and, I must admit, I often mistake her talking to her house panther as her conversing with me. Oy!
Photos provided. So far, generational coexistence is creating a pretty cool vibe for the White-Mosher crew.
Some other observations since becoming generational roomies:
I’m never lonely. We all have TVs, internet and WiFi in our rooms, and ample access and opportunity for privacy. However, we spend quite a bit of time together at the kitchen island (usually while making snacks or meals), laughing, telling stories and joking, and dancing and singing. BOTH my mama and Nathan are a trip!
‘Those magic moments’. There are times when I’ll come out of my sanctuary to find Nathan in grandma’s room, playing MarioKart with her. They’ve always bonded over video games and it’s cool to listen in on the conversations they have as they play.
My Mom brings with her a jungle of sorts. We do have some seriously talented gardeners in our family, and Mom is one of the skilled. She came with five trees (my favorite is the Ponytail Palm), and too many plants to count! Most of them are outdoor plants but there are enough additions to the house that our cats have no problem getting in touch with their wild side.
There’s almost always someone awake in our house. As a cautious “Cat” – the result of watching too many true-crime shows – this reassures me. I usually pass out about 9:30 p.m. (don’t judge! “The Change” is kicking my ass!), while Mom’s watching something on the MLB channel until about 11 p.m., and Nathan’s playing video games while watching TikTok clips with either Harry Potter or Marvel movies, or sports playing in the background, until 4 or 5 a.m. Which is when I start my day, having been awakened by the cats doing something disruptive … or night sweats.
To be honest, while I enjoy my solitude (immensely), I’ve always liked having “my people” around me. My heritage, the one I’m familiar with, includes Pennsylvania farmers – folk accustomed to multiple generations living together, caring for each other and their land. I also have a strong memory of learning about the indigenous peoples native to the region in elementary school and how many tribes lived in longhouses, which seemed cool (and familiar) to me. The communal living model was reinforced by my experience of growing up in Hoffman Plaza where the apartment design resembles the Native American longhouses, so my friends (neighborhood kids) were close by, and my neighbors (elders) watched over all of us like aunties and uncles.
I’m a control freak so having my Mom and nephew under my watchful eye has actually eased my stress. My mom had a minor health incident last year so being closer to her has been a relief. And, I grew up taking care of Nathan while his mom worked 12-hour shifts as a Labor & Delivery Nurse, so being able to see him almost every day and knowing that he can save money with a roof over his head brings great comfort to both me and his mom, while she’s travel nursing.
We’re all having an effect on each other’s health. While I’ve had to adjust my butter intake after my Mom showed dismay that we went through four pounds of butter in three weeks! Also, Nathan has gotten me into the gym for a little much-needed strength training. I'm working on getting 'swole'.
We’ve had a few months to learn each other's habits and schedule. I’m sure there will be other interesting observations to come but, for now, the generations are coexisting peacefully.