In today's Venezuela there are many limitations in terms of basic services. One of these limitations or shortages is the domestic gas service. This has caused us to resort to the practice of cooking with firewood, which is only useful and healthy when living in the countryside, or when sharing a family barbecue in open spaces, but it is not advisable to do it every day, since what we for breathing at home is wood smoke. The use of firewood to prepare food has become part of the daily routine of most Venezuelans. Cooking with firewood is not recommended in confined spaces, inside homes. In many Venezuelan cities preparing food has become a guillotine for health, especially for the lungs, because that is what is now breathed, toxic air when cooking.
My son, 36 years old, had a serious health problem months ago, precisely because he was preparing food with firewood at home for his family, his wife and 6 year old daughter. He began to feel sick, he was coughing a lot and it was difficult for him to breathe. At the first symptoms he went to a health center to be examined by a doctor. The diagnosis was alarming, pneumonitis with possible covid. Immediately all measures were taken in terms of medicine, treatment and care of the case. Thank God he recovered satisfactorily.
My son asked me if he and his family could spend a few days with me, until he was completely healed, because in my house food is prepared using electrical appliances. When there is electricity (because that is another limitation in Venezuela: the energy is constantly off), food is prepared using utensils that require energy to function, here in my house we cook like this. Of course, out of love for him, without thinking twice I said yes.
After living with me for a week, I proposed to my son that they move in with me permanently. I have several years living alone with my pet. Living alone in old age and in times of pandemic is not healthy. And being accompanied by family is an opportunity I didn't want to pass up, especially when there is love and mutual respect between us.
Before moving, my son proposed to his wife and told his 6-year-old daughter. It was then that we decided to do a SWOT matrix (strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, threats and opportunities) of living under the same roof with two families, him, my daughter-in-law, my granddaughter, me and my pet. The strengths and opportunities prevailed over the weaknesses and threats. And so in time of pandemic they, about 8 months ago, decided to take my proposal as valid.
From the beginning of the cohabitation I made my conditions clear. It is healthy in any new relationship to negotiate to establish healthy limits.
I offered them the freedom to use the whole house, that they feel that they are a family nucleus made up of three members (father, mother and daughter), that they can use all the spaces except for my room, which is large and has a private bathroom.
My room has become my refuge to be alone when I need it. Those who have lived alone for a long time will understand that solitude eventually becomes a good friend and that you can enjoy it. . Solitude has helped me to reflect and get away from the noise. I love to have a morning coffee in my room, watching the birds outside my window. That makes me feel happy. I am always enjoying in silence the nature sight from my window. Enjoying the silence in my room is priceless. Everyone accepted it, and in this way and in healthy conversation all the family, my room became my private space, which is respected with love and that when you want to enter you have to knock on the door to allow the passage.
On my part, I also had to recognize healthy limits for a good coexistence in terms of who would be the one who would carry the highest hierarchy at home. I understood that if I was giving my son the disposition and space to live with his family, I would also have to give him his place as head of the household. For the last 8 months my son has been the one who makes the decisions as head of his family, in constant consultation with his wife. I have always left them that space. I do not interfere in his personal decision making. They only inform me if it is warranted and I simply give my opinion for it to be considered. In many cases it is. My daughter in law along with my son have felt that even living with me they have not lost their autonomy as a family. And above all the hierarchical place of each of them in their home. In some occasions my advice to solve personal conflicts that have arisen from their marriage have been positive to solve some situations between them. And they recognize this, because they have personally expressed it to me.
I make myself feel as a loving grandmother, as a mother advisor, as a mother-in-law always ready to collaborate in the kitchen with the preparation of some food when they ask me to do so, to go shopping or when I correct my granddaughter. I always try to bring wise counsel in harmony and peace. Sometimes when we have had differences that create personal friction caused by misunderstandings we talk openly, clarifying the facts and apologizing when the case deserves it. Every day is an apprenticeship of coexistence, being clear that sincere and effective communication is essential in every relationship.
I hope dear readers of this prestigious platform that the experience I have narrated with so many details can serve as a reflection for those who have to make decisions to give space in your home to a family member who is suffering from health in these times of pandemic, and appreciate my advice that with good communication, respecting the hierarchies, and establishing healthy limits can live in family with harmony, happiness and joy in the heart.
When you're used to living alone, then agree to have family move in with you, the dynamics of your day-to-day living will definitely change. But setting rules and boundaries and keeping an open communication really help a lot to have peaceful co-existence.