This morning on the Today show the representative for the family of actor Corey Haim, recently deceased from a drug overdose, said something like this, “We want to correct a miscommunication about Corey’s mother. She was living with him, not the other way around.”
I thought to myself, yet another case of someone who doesn’t want to be perceived as – God forbid – living with mother as an adult.
On the other end of this spectrum is one of my new favorite shows, Castle. It’s a show about a writer who trails a real life detective (the smart sexy woman detective, mind you) to get material for his books. He’s funny and charming, but one thing I love about the show: he lives with his mother and his daughter, three generations in a beautiful Manhattan apartment. Mom often gets a role in the show, as she banters with her son, learns to use Facebook (and reconnects with a high-school flame, with predictable results) and simply is a mom.
Castle fictionalizes a wonderful side of living with mother – a side where the adult son and the aging mother share daily chores, challenges and joys. A side where both enrich the other one’s life, and create a funny, touching vignette of family living.
What a contract to the real-life family who wants to correct the misperception of an adult son living with his mother.
What a sad commentary on our values today.
Frankly, I look around at my own home that had grown markedly in size as the number of people living there full-time has shrunk from 5 (and as many friends) to 2. What used to feel full to the edges now seems big – excessive, even – as my husband and I are the only full-time occupants. We seem perfectly content to live most of our days in three main rooms – the kitchen, family room and our bedroom – leaving a whole lot of space unused.
I consider my children, struggling to be independent, pay rent, establish their own spaces.
If something happened to my husband, would my children be comfortable moving back to the family home with me, or would society’s standards make them feel less than adult by doing this?
Personally, I crave a world where we celebrate family over independence; where we once again build communities that are strong and supportive, intergenerationally. When the retired folks step up to happily help the young parents, and find their lives richer for doing it.
Where we’re less focused on the “me” and more on the “we.”
I believe that this shift of focus may one day become a financial imperative in our society – but that we’ll discover that the pain is actually – truly – good for us.