A mom of three shares the many advantages—and a few challenges—of raising kids with a live-in grandma.
As a child, I remember being enthralled by my mom’s stories of her multi-generational childhood home. Her father died when she was two, and her mother was trying to raise four kids under the age of seven, so it only made sense that my mom’s maternal grandparents moved in to help while their daughter was simultaneously working full-time and trying to hold her young family together.
I’d lay on my mom’s bed and listen as she’d describe scooching in beside her grandmother after a bad dream, or the joy of discovering that her grandfather had snuck a candy into her lunch box. And I’d long for my own live-in grandparents, convinced that home life had to be better with adults who indulged your every whim. Now that I have three sons who are lucky enough to live under the same roof as their Gram, I can confidently say on their behalf that it is.
My mom moved in with us five years ago, after we realized she was experiencing health and financial hardships. Getting her to agree to make the move was a hard sell at first—she’s not the type to ask for help or even admit she needs it—but we finally wore her down by assuring her that our oldest son, Oliver, would be over the moon at having his Gram here. That, and Ryan and I would love it too since a) we would see her more often than our usual two or three visits a year, and b) having her here to help raise Oliver and any babies to follow would be, well, amazing.
After her arrival, there was a short period of growing pains since, as a friend of mine once said, it’s not easy having two momma birds living in one nest. But if there’s one thing my mom is, it’s adaptable. With time she grew comfortable enough to speak her mind on most family-related issues, and Ryan and I reached the point that we could be open about what we need from her, both in terms of help with the boys and general around-the-house matters. (Did I mention that she cleans, often cooks and is happy to snuggle with the earliest riser on weekends so we can sleep in?)
While it’s safe to say that every day isn’t a cake walk—there are three adults living in our home, each with somewhat unique approaches to parenting and life—Ryan and I continually count our blessings. We have so many friends without family nearby to lend a hand with their kids or even just play babysitter for a few hours, and here we are, able to go out and leave our boys with someone we love and trust. We also get to see firsthand what, in my mind, is the best aspect of this scenario, which is watching our kids getting to know, love and make memories with their Gram. If that doesn’t make this multi-generational setup worthwhile, I don’t know what does.
This is #1000families post number 80. Do you have a family story of your own to contribute to the 1,000 Families Project? Or do you know a family that might want to do so? Learn more about how the series got started and how to get involved here. You can find all of the #1000families posts here.