When the Flames Go Up
When the Flames Go Up
Episode 35: "Where’s the line about how much you give to your family?"

Episode 35: "Where’s the line about how much you give to your family?"

Helen Jane Hearn moved her husband and daughters from the Bay Area to the Green Bay area, to take over her childhood home and care for her parents. Here's how she stabilizes the culture shock.

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There are no easy answers when you’re “Deep in The Dagwood” of sandwich parenting. When you’re looking after your wheelchair-bound mom and 90-year-old stepdad, your siblings don’t live locally, you have a full-time job, and you want to model competence for your teenage daughters without perpetuating the thought that holding families together defaults to the women.

Helen Jane Hearn does all of these things, three years after her family moved across the country—and across a broad political and cultural divide—to take over her childhood home in rural Wisconsin.

Adjusting to bigger responsibilities and smaller social circles hasn’t been easy, but those responsibilities gather importance when she remembers they won’t last forever. Plus: her kids love the outdoors, and they’re having valuable conversations that might not have happened back in wine country. Basically, she isn’t afraid to use “FML” to assess her situation—as long as it means “foxy, middle-aged lady.”

Thanks for listening to When the Flames Go Up! Please consider a paid subscription to support our writing and podcasting and gnawing our way out of a Dagwood.

We also talk about the compelling allure of a tiny apartment with no stuff, the cultural significance of Take Your Tractor to School Day, and why duct tape should be Wisconsin’s state flower.

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Edited Transcript

When the Flames Go Up
When the Flames Go Up
After we divorced, we started a blog about co-parenting to learn how to work together until our kids were grown. And now that they are, and the world is so busy disrupting and disavowing what we thought we were working for, we're looking to our community to help us all keep up.