Monday, July 20, 2015

How Long is a Generation?

According to
In general we think of a generation being about 25 years - from the birth of a parent to the birth of a child. We also generally accept that the length of a generation in earlier periods of history was closer to 20 years when humans mated younger and life expectancies were shorter.

I remember the summer I realized I had crossed over to the next "generation" here at the shore.  I went from being one of the kids to being one of the adults.  This may not have exactly coincided with my actual crossover into adulthood and it did not go smoothly, just ask my husband.  It happened here at the shore when I had kids of my own and there were enough little kids to fill in that kid generation which pushed me into the next generation.  Once I accepted my new reality I was happy enough being one of the "young adults".  The young adults still look good in a bathing suit, have plenty of energy, have parts that don't sag, are able to stay up and party all night long if the occasion calls for it and spend their days on the beach watching the younger generation of kids work through the dynamics of shore life.  The young adults are some of the busiest people here at the shore!

Back when I was one of those young busy people.

Somewhere around the time our kids start high school and then graduate from college and eventually get married and have children of their own, we move into yet another level of shore adulthood.  We no longer have to be on the beach to watch our children but we are not grandparents yet either.  These are some of the best years of life up here at the shore, if you ask me!  We are still young enough to party till...after midnight...  and our kids are pretty self reliant.  Sometimes our kids actually party until after midnight themselves!  We don't look as good as we used to in that bathing suit, but we still look pretty good....enjoy it while it lasts.  Life is a little less hectic but still busy.  We are in the middle with childhood and young adulthood behind us and grandparent-hood and great-grandparent-hood ahead of us.  We have more perspective and the energy to enjoy the fruits of this life.

Somewhere between young parents and grandparents...
we had plenty of energy and time to party!
Grandparent-hood is the next frontier.  Back to spending time on the beach watching the kids work their way through shore dynamics, this time not because you have to but because you want to.  You realize that shore dynamics haven't changed since you and your own children worked through them!  There are little ones who still need to learn not to throw sand.  There are still times when one child or another gets left out.  There are still those days that the children are just so tired they don't know which way to turn but still won't hear of going up from the beach for a rest.  There are also those perfect days when everyone gets along, the sun shines, the sandbars are perfect for building a castle or a giant tub and everyone sits on the beach until the last possible moment.  Being a grandparent has it's benefits.  As the grandparent, you don't really stress out about the child who was left out or the tired cranky one who can't be consoled.  It is perfectly fine for you to sit back and observe it all from the comfort of your own beach chair while those young parents in their tiny bathing suits and the perky bodies take care of everything.  Unfortunately, the grandparent does not look quite as good in their bathing suit which is now much bigger and covers a lot more surface area (speaking for myself here) than before.  We can still party until after midnight (speaking for myself again) but may need a few more days off to recover afterwards.  Mealtime at the shore can reach epic proportions for grandparents if you feed your children, your grandchildren, your children's friends, your parents and your friends.  Grand parents here at the shore are also very busy people, especially at meal time.  I guess it is all those years of practice that makes us experts at feeding the masses.  There have been meals that take a week to recover from....(just me again?).

Multiple generations at the same table....even at Christmas!
This dinner was definitely epic!
Just a regular evening dinner again with multiple generations.
Some people even make it to the great grandparent level.  They are the lucky ones.  They have more perspective than any of the rest of us, I'm assuming.  They have earned the privilege of taking it easy, although there are a few who still refuse to take it easy.  They are a rarity, not everyone reaches great grandparent-hood.  It is a special thing for kids to know their great-grandparents and vice versa.  I knew one of my great grandparents.  My husband never knew his great grandparents.  Think about it, how many of us ever knew our great grandparents?  No one cares what you look like in a bathing suit and no one expects you to feed them when you are a great grandparent.  Everyone just wants to spend time with you because time is precious.

Enjoying their great grandparent-hood.
This summer it has become more apparent to me, and maybe all of us here at the shore, that things are changing.  The view from my eyes is different this year.  The inevitable is happening.  There are more and more of my generation's parents who are no longer with us or are unable to be here for one reason or another.  There are cottages that were full of life and now sit quietly waiting.  There have been several people who have gone back and forth from the shore to care for loved ones.  This has probably happened for generations but I just never paid much attention until it affected me directly.  I'm selfish like that.  It's just all part of life.  I have to hope that just like I struggled when I had to move on from being one of the kids and become one of the "adults",  I will be able to struggle through this next phase and eventually reach a new normal and even enjoy the next phase.  One thing I will say in closing, we all need to embrace where we are and make the best of every phase of life, especially here at the shore, because before you know it... things will change!


Carol said...

This is elegant and your best post ever. I didn't just cry, I sobbed. And am still sobbing. You were the first cousin to break into that Young Adulthood - quite well, I must say! And now, you are entering a wooded part of life we other cousins have trekked, and to me honest, are still trekking. Parents, Grandparents, and even Great-Parents aren't perfect, but they gave us family and they gave us Amherst Shore. Amherst Shore gives us the chance to see, live and embrace what you have pointed out here because our parents, their parents, and the parents before them, brought us all together to this Place. Such a gift! I move on proudly, wearing a lot of fabric in my bathing suit and treasuring each and every moment I have with my multi-generational family at the Shore. I hope our new YAs read your post! I know they love the Shore, but do they really know why? This is why. P.S my 2nd fave pic is that other one you posted here of Young Joe, Tina, Les, Doug, Deb, Mike, You, et al!! GREAT PIC! Epic Post! You nailed this one, cuzzin!

Lisa said...

Our parents and theirs before them knew a good thing when they found it! We are the lucky ones to have benefited from their vision. Bring on the big bathing suit, I'll see you on the beach,cuzzin'!

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