Tuesday, September 6, 2011
One of the great joys in life is being happy for other people's happiness. Think about it. Even if math was not your forte, imagine the multiplier effect here. If you limit your joy to yourself, or your immediate family, well, no matter how big that family is, just imagine if you enlarge that circle of people, the potential for more joy is exponential.
A green bubbie is someone who is not afraid or shy about branching out and enlarging that caring circle of family.
When I was a young mother, I remember being admonished, along with my whole generation, "Don't be your child's friend."- and "Don't be "friends with your children's friends." But that is very different from inter-generational friendship. When boundaries and roles are clear, we can relate not as peers, but as supportive, caring, 'other' people, rendering another definition for the word 'relative'
We just attended the wedding of one of my daughter's friends. Since they were in the second grade, she has always called me "Mrs. Feldman" We always liked "to talk" to de-brief, and to consider options. My joy at her wedding was deep- just as our talks were always, well, "deep."
I have always felt that parent-hood is sort of a team sport- we are all in this together, and we each have a 'role' or position to play, supporting all of our kids. My older son was just lamenting how much he misses, and wants to get together with, the father of his best friend. They too used to have special talks. When I mentioned my son's sentiments to that particular father, tears welled up in his eyes as he told me the feeling was mutual.
It's special to have 'inter-generational' friends. When boundaries are clear, generations distinct, the roles we are able to play in each others lives, can enhance the relationships in our own families, just as they strengthen the growth of all involved.
Years ago, when I wrote my dissertation, I wrote about the friendship networks that are formed when parents of young children meet each other as their children start preschool, or day care. I was referring to those strong friendships amongst the parents which would grow as we attended and cheered at all those games, celebrated birthdays and holidays, and fretted over each parental decision - from when to start drinking from a cup, when to let a child ride around the block on a bike, to choosing schools to celebrating life cycle milestones as our children grew up.
What I did not know then, was that just as we were forming friendship networks with the other parents, we were also planting strong roots of trust and becoming the community pillars on which we would be able support each other's children, and give them more than any of us could have provided alone.