Hungry for a Momwich? Successful Multi-Generational Living
- Monday, September 25, 2006
There are certain things you start to say when you reach a certain age (like, "What is with all that noise on the radio?" and "Young people used to have manners in this country."). You can actually track how close you are to getting put in a nursing home by the frequency of these sorts of phrases in your daily conversations.
So, at the risk of sounding elderly, weren’t the TV commercials better back in the sixties and seventies? Other than the really bad polyester outfits, the products were all designed to make our lives better and to shave the time we spent preparing meals. We had Tang —the orange flavored drink that the astronauts drank! We watched commercials for Hungry Man TV dinners, and you had your choice of mixing biscuits (Bisquick) or popping them out of a can (Pillsbury).
One of the more interesting (genderwise, that is) food commercials was one that implied a real manly man would never eat a regular sloppy joe sandwich, he needed a "Manwich" (think Tim "The Toolman" Taylor making his grunting noises). Wouldn’t you think that all the bra-burning militant feminists of that era would have protested this stereotypical product labeling by boycotting Manwich? Not on your life! I have no idea what testosterone-driven ad agent thought that name would sell more sauce, but he must’ve been a genius because it’s still on the grocery store shelves to this day.
I have experienced something slightly different than a Manwich. I have been both a bread slice and I have been the filling in what I call a "Momwich." This is a scenario where three generations of women (mother and a daughter and her daughter) all live under one roof. Sometimes it’s by choice, sometimes it’s of necessity, but it’s always an interesting mix.
When I was two years old, my biological father left my mother and me. It was devastating for my mom, and she would have been unable to support us both had we not moved in with her parents. My mom has told me that, as my grandfather was a man given to fits of rage, she was reluctant to move back home but really had no choice financially. So it was that from the age of two until I was ten, I was the younger piece of bread in a Momwich. I have asked my mom what it was like for her to move back in with her mother at that time in her life, and she said it was a comfort to have her mom there daily during the time when she was healing from the emotional wounds of divorce and that her mother, ever the strong soul and optimist, acted as a buffer between her and her father.
My earliest childhood memories include spending lots of time with my Nana (because my mom was working) and playing out on the farm. The days were slow, just as they should be when you a little mayo with the momwich are a child and have no reason to feel the passage of time. I recall feeling quite loved by my Nana and my mom (also by my grandfather, who in his older years was more docile), so this Momwich was a blessing for me and provided stability in my early life. It also gave my mom a few years of emotional haven where she could find her confidence again. My grandmother believed that God would send my mom a soulmate (since the dating pool in our little town was pret-ty small!), and mom was resolute to hold out for someone who would love her deeply. When John Pulliam moved to Burnet to work at a fish hatchery, Mom and John fell in love and married, so the Momwich was no longer necessary. Interestingly enough, Nana would continue to spend parts of the year with us even when we moved from Texas to Virginia. Momwiches are enduring.
And I’ve found that Momwiches can morph over time, as I am now the middle part of one. I am the meaty sauce, the daughter/ mother in between my mom and my daughter, and the joe can get pretty sloppy some days. When we moved to Atlanta several years ago, my parents were already in the area living on the opposite side of town. My dad’s job took him on overseas trips frequently, so when Dad was out of the country Mom would stay with us so that she wouldn’t have to be alone. At the same time I was starting to travel more frequently for my own work and ministry, and Mom and Dad would come over on those weekends to help out with the kids.
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