Friday, October 17, 2008

Multi-generation living

Not only are we adapting to living in a new city (okay, new to me and to my daughter), but we're adjusting to living with an extended family. The family isn't all that big when you consider it's just Gboy's mother and father with whom we're living. But we've moved into their house and I'm now having to learn how to live with the equivalent of roommates, in what is essentially someone else's turf. Never mind the in-law issues that are present.

Thankfully I don't think we have many "issues" but there is no discounting the fact that I feel a little judged (or maybe scrutinized is a better word) when I'm around them. I think I'd feel this way even if they were American (i.e. we weren't from different cultures) but the language and culture differences certainly don't make it any easier. I find myself often wanting to say, "I'm only doing this because...." or "In the U.S. this is how lots of people do this...." or "Drinking 3 beers is totally fine for me even though I'm still breast-feeding some." But my Japanese isn't that good yet (and it just seems easier to not have ANY beer than to try to explain why the half a beer I might really have isn't a problem given the circumstances *sigh*). And the weird thing is that I think my in-laws really do like me and they've never said anything that leads me to believe they question my skills as a mother, but I'm still learning to live with the differences here, and on top of that I'm learning to live with roommates again. It's sort of like living in a fishbowl and it's been a while since I've had roommates in such a tight-ish space. Lucky for me, we (Gboy, me and Peanut) all get a little space of our own on the second floor, removed enough from my in-laws that I feel we all get some of our own space.

Update: After reading this post from an awesome blogger that I follow, I am reminded of all the wonderful things that come from having lots of family under one roof. And for that, I'm immensely grateful. I firmly believe in silver linings and Mel has shown me, perhaps unintentionally, the silver lining here.


  1. I forgot to ask, if you are not too far we should hook up for coffee sometime = )

  2. Hi! Welcome to/back to Japan! I was hoping you would be living farther north! SMILE! Thanks for stopping by and commenting on my blog. There sure is a great internet community of foreign moms and Japanese dads. Please ask any of us ANYTHING! We always pass on info and tips and empathy! Welcome!

  3. Hi! Not sure how you found me but glad you did so I could find you! ;)

    I live in an area where my kids are the only ones on the block not living with or next to one set of grandparents. While this means I probably get around in my pjs a lot more than other mums and certainly get away with serving cereal for dinner waayyy more ;) I feel bad for what they're missing out on. I think your peanut is a lucky little guy/ girl!

    In my experience ojiichan/ obaachan age group are exempt from that famous Japanese politeness thing so I wouldn't wonder how your ILs feel about you- if they're not scolding you I'd say that's a sign they approve! :)

    Asking for advice is often the key to cementing relationships here. If you want to get closer to your MIL maybe you could ask her to teach you a dish or something?

    Enjoy your stay!