Tell Me What’s Wonderful

When I sent my parents an email listing all of the advantages of moving to Virginia, I did not actually expect them to do it. I chalk it up to the curse of self-sufficiency. Their focus has always been to elevate each sister to a place of equality. Therefore, if one sister has accomplished x, y, and z, the other two are supported until they achieve a similar success/quality of life. It’s complicated family math.

And so, in an equation featuring a desolate home in the west and a sudden subtraction of nearby family, we proposed that they move here instead of to Minnesota or Arizona, the other two likely choices. We must have made a compelling argument and we played the equality card. Having never done that before, I had no idea it would actually work.

In just a week, my parents will be here (subtract for family unpredictability and multiply for equality in holidays spent with grandchildren taking into account both past and future) and they will be living in our basement. My wife has done everything she can to make it comfortable, which is remarkable considering that it is mostly unfinished and, well, a basement. Still, there’s nothing she can do about the single bathroom for our new family of five and, while I recognize that this is a first world problem, we now only have one shower door which means 100% more water splashing on the floor daily. You all, it is FUN TIMES here.

Moving is one of the big stressors in life and so it’s not surprising that they are a bit on edge. There were hiccups with the sale of their home and they are moving their furniture to storage alone. This is admirable when you are 35. When you are 67 the balance tips toward worrisome. They also bought a home here and, while it’s not sight unseen, I’m concerned it’s too far away from us and from health care and, at more than a 100 years old, bound to be trouble. But, it is not my house. Regardless, they don’t plan to move into the house until April.

Stress is not my mother’s area of strength. She is probably bipolar although, in this family, it’s not the thing to talk about your health. But if we’re speaking in concrete terms, she has stopped taking whatever medication she was on. In other concrete terms, it doesn’t matter the diagnosis if the behavior matches. In still other concrete terms, she has never visited without discovering an imagined slight, withdrawing completely, and blaming me. I cry.

I’m worried. Debra is concerned that this will change our “family of three” dynamic”. We have been working hard lately to affirm that for ourselves so knowing it’s going to change is stressful, even though the change is probably a positive one. I’m worried that we will lose even more of our couple-ness which has been getting slimmer and slimmer in the last year. RR has no idea what awaits her although I hope her childhood with grannie is more like my experience with my own grandmothers (and less like my experience with my mother). I’m worried.

On the positive side, I hope this means some babysitting, at least while they live with us, and I’m looking forward to living near family. Growing up we had Sunday dinners at my grandmother’s house and I cherish those memories even though in the moment I was annoyed by eating my vegetables, running to fetch Aunt Peg’s cigarettes, and dressing for dinner. My grandfather always had licorice.

So tell me friends, what else is wonderful about having your parents move in?






7 Responses

  1. From age 0 to 8, my mother’s mother lived with us (Grandma J), and we lived next door to my dad’s parents. I LOVED it! Neither of my grandmothers were easy people, but it did help me learn unconditional love. In fact, Grandma J did many things that drove everyone crazy, but she’s my grandma, and I love her.

    There was babysitting whenever my parents needed it (both worked full time, and my mom went to school full time too). Grandma J did laundry, cleaning, cooking (she was a terrible cook, unfortunately). When I was at my other grandparents’ house next door, I’d practice threading a needle, play with buttons, roll marbles, watch Wheel of Fortune and horrible soaps, and eat Ramen and Mac N Cheese. Grandpa taught us to fish, hunt squirrel, traipse through woods, and shoot a bow.

    It’s just helpful to have extra sets of people that love you, with different mannerisms and rules and knowledge. I’m sure it will be stressful having them live with you for a while, but I’m 95% confident RR will benefit from having them nearby.

    Good luck!

    • Thank you for sharing your perspective! Those are some wonderful things that I remember about time with my grandparents as well and your comment about teaching unconditional love is spot on.

  2. It sounds to me like the most wonderful part of having your parents move in will be having an exit date! 🙂 I can only share my space for so long before I can’t take it anymore!

    • That’s the wonderful part of any visit from anyone for me. I’m an introvert and I welcome the down time after a visit. I’m REALLY luck that Debra and my parents get a long so well – I couldn’t do it without her.

  3. But Minnesota is super awesome 😉 Everything I’ve heard has said that bad mothers can make okay grandmothers. Apparently it’s a job that’s harder to screw up or something.

  4. My sister and her daughter lived with my mom (and me) until my niece was almost 8. Of course your parents won’t be around that long, but the bond and relationship that my mom has with my niece is one of the most tender and close grandmother, granddaughter relationships I have ever seen. They love each other sooo much. My mom also takes her overnight a lot so my sister and her new hubby get a lot of time alone and/or with their new baby. So there is always the possibility of increased coupleness instead of losing more.

Comments are closed.

%d bloggers like this: