(Picture posted above is my mother holding me when I was a few days old. It was late February 1975 so that should give you an idea how old I am.)
Welcoming a new member to your home can cause a lot of change.
In June my mom made the decision to live with us. I know it was a hard decision for her – but she knew she didn’t want to stay by herself, especially this winter. Her dog recently passed away as well so with exception of a few friends and family, she was alone. Alone in a big house in the country with little to do. I would be a little freaked out being alone too.
She drove down from Pennsylvania Labor Day weekend. She didn’t have much – clothes, a few knick-knacks, and the strongboxes that were extremely heavy.
We had the most room and my mom offered to help us with, well, whatever. Mainly, she wanted to spend time with her grandkids. B now comes home right after school. He seems to enjoy that – a bus ride home, then to relax in his room or whatever. It helps Husband and me because now we don’t have to constantly be tethered to the phone, worried about a phone call to pick him up.
So Husband gave her some paint samples and she picked the color for her room. He put up crown moulding and painted the bedroom. I managed to get about 95% of the junk that piled up in the room (mainly from consignment sales). We even bought her her own TV so she wouldn’t have to be constantly subjected to Nick Jr. and Mickey Mouse.
Clearly we are not charging her rent but she helps out. We now constantly have a clean sink and clean dishes. The laundry seems to constantly fold itself. We’ve had a few “real” meals and even ate at the dining room table. The mail gets picked up on a regular basis and Curtis has not been pooping “as much” in the house (though yesterday was very bad day she said).
It’s not all unicorns and rainbows.
Clearly, opening your home means opening yourself up to someone else observing your life. So my parenting, cooking, cleaning, everything is up on a platter to see. So when I’ve lost my temper around B…yep. Like I had to carry M like a sack of potatoes to go to bed…yep. Like snapping at Husband because of some stupid thing…yep.
Grandma is not wild about the Interwebz. Lord knows I have tried to teach her basic computing principles for the past 20 years. There are multiple e-mail addresses attributed to her but we can’t access them because we forgot the password. Don’t get her started on Facebook – she frets about people seeing pictures online that we post.
She gave me a funny look when I mentioned tweeting. I will not try and explain 4chan to her.
She worries about the kids’ tech usage. We have iPads, smartphones, laptops, FIOS TV. She looks at us, constantly checking our phones. Yeah, I readily admit that we are technogeeks. I explain how many other uses the phone has for me – like a calendar, a reminder service, a welcome distraction for an overwhelmed child, etc. She’s getting better at texting so she does like that.
Oh and Candy Crush. She LOVES Candy Crush.
It’s not quiet in our house. In fact, it’s quite loud and give me a headache constantly. When B has a meltdown it can take a long time to quiet him down. If M has a diva fit, that can go a long time too. Not to mention when Curtis starts barking to go outside. I feel bad, because I wouldn’t mind it a bit quieter too, but she says she’s getting used to it. Of course, it was so quiet before that I can only imagine the shock it was to her system.
If I could read her mind, she would worry about our schedules. We both work with common crappy commutes. One leaves super early, and the other gets home late. She can tell that I’m already tired by the time I have the kids up, fed, dressed, and prepared for the day all the while my hair still wet. Lots of go-go-going, and our weekends seem to be packed.
I know she probably thinks about our drinking. We are social drinkers. I have no issue cracking a beer open on a weeknight or a couple during a college game. I know she hopes that it doesn’t become more than that. Her dad (my grandfather) was a drunk, a mean one at that. She doesn’t talk about it much though. She never really drank, especially after her kidney issues. She doesn’t say anything but I can’t help but feel the judgment.
Who knows what else she wonders about.
But she knows that we care deeply for the kids. She readily admits that she wished she knew about activities that we have enrolled them in back when I was younger. Well, we never had money for that anyway. When I was a kid, things were tight, budget-wise. The first activity I truly remember was renting a clarinet in fourth grade. By this point B has done soccer, T-ball, karate and football while M is in gymnastics and indoor soccer. Not to mention all the playdates, birthday parties, and group activities that we have shuttled them to over the years.
She tells me that she doesn’t know how I do it. How I juggle work, kids, the PTA, the special education awareness stuff, whatever. I tell her I have no idea but things have to be done and no one else is going to do it.
I mean, she’s the one that taught me that.