Wednesday, March 28, 2012


My generation has a curious problem. Many of us did not have children until we were relatively old. In my case, that meant having kids at 36 and 38. This means that we are older than most of our moms were and that our parents are older grandparents than ours were. It also means that, as we are still dealing with taking care of relatively small kids, we might be faced with taking care of elderly parents. In my case, I have not been called upon to take care of my parents -- another feature of our generation is that we often do not live nearby, so I am thousands of miles away from my parents. But my father has been ill and I have been visiting a lot in the last few months.

I have been thinking about this sandwiching, as a friend calls it. I am conscious of being a mom and a daughter, both older than some and younger than some. I am especially conscious of this lately as many members of the older generation in my family have passed away recently. My mother lost two sisters and a brother-in-law. I lost two aunts and an uncle. Suddenly the top layer is disappearing. I am beginning to envision a time when we are the oldest. Aside from the panic that induces (because, as I said in a previous blog, I do not yet feel grown up), I feel sad to know that my kids will lose that contact with an older generation. This is perhaps where thinking of ourselves less in terms of bloodlines comes in handy.

We casually refer to a lot of our friends as aunt and uncle. This is probably because we didn't know what else to call them. Mr. and Mrs. or the southern Miss did not seem right. So, we made our friends aunts and uncles. And mostly they refer to us the same way. Straight aunts and uncles to be sure, and gay and lesbian aunts and uncles, too. Some married, some single, some in long term relationships without being married. I have always liked that they have knowledge of different possibilities in this life -- including among my family, in which we have a bachelor, a single mom by choice, a now gone lesbian aunt. But my broader family, that circle of friends, presents a more diverse array of lifestyles and racial diversity, too. They can see interracial relationships, gay and straight, working moms, stay at home dads, and other structures that quietly step outside the conventional norms of society and that, in my kids' minds, are as normal as the rest. Already, our holiday table is more populated with these aunts and uncles than with blood family (again, because we do not live near most family). Over the years, as we all age, I hope that this extended queer family can serve as the top layer for my kids, the older generation that can model the future for them.

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