We didn’t move in with my parents voluntarily. We had our house sold out from under us by our previous landlords. At Christmas. During the housing boom. Finding another suitable place we could afford on such short notice with such high demand at that time of the year proved to be impossible. Grandparents to the rescue.
My parents kindly and benevolently allowed our family of four to move into their modest house. Problem solved, right? Well, not exactly. Six people living in a three-bedroom, one bathroom house is not logistically easy. Nor it is easy to run two households under one roof.
It can be difficult for me to balance playing the roles of wife, mother, and daughter simultaneously, particularly since those roles often conflict with each other. I am the go-between for everyone, which can be draining, and with four adults living together, helping to raise children together, there is bound to be stress.
But all of that pales in comparison to our gratitude for the gift my parents have given us. Not just in offering us a place to live, but in the difference they make in the lives of our children.
My parents have always taken grand-parenting seriously. From the second my first child, their first grandchild, was born, they have been actively involved. To say they love their grandchildren would be a great understatement. The live for their five grandchildren.
I know that despite the strain our family puts on them, and the stress of having four extra people in their house, my parents adore spending as much time as they want to with my kids. Every morning, my youngest bounds into bed with Grandma to chat with her before school. In the evening, my oldest sits attentively beside Grandpa on the couch, soaking in an impromptu guitar lesson.
They have their own restaurants that Grandpa takes them to, and songs they only sing with Grandma. They are spoiled rotten. Despite best efforts, my parents can’t resist. But with being spoiled comes an awareness and gratitude from my children for the privilege of having their grandparents so involved in their lives.
They are being raised by four people. Two generations, and all the wisdom and experience that comes with it. They know that Mom and Dad make the rules and have final say on parenting decisions, but they frequently seek advice and comfort from their grandparents, who are eager to oblige. Having a set of trusted adults around who are not in charge of disciplining them gives them a wonderful opportunity for confidants.
There are no secrets between them. They know that Grandma and Grandpa keep us in the loop. But sometimes, it’s just nice to talk to a grandparent instead of your mom. And on the flip side, it’s lovely for my parents to be able to do the fun stuff and hand them back when they need a break.
My parents were fantastic parents when we were growing up. But like me, they were still learning how to parent, and they had to deal with all the banalities of parenting, and the stress that comes with it. This is not the case with grand-parenting. My mom frequently says if she knew how great grand-parenting would be, she would have done it a lot sooner. She speaks often about how she loved being a parent when we were little, but it has nothing on being a grandparent. My parents were born to play this role, and it shows.
So while I can’t deny that I am anxious for us to find our own place and be autonomous again, I will be forever grateful for this time my children are getting to spend with full-time grandparents. I know that the relationship they have built during this time will continue on, and has formed a bond between them that can never be broken. I know the lessons they have learned from spending their formative years with their grandparents will benefit them into adulthood.
To quote my wise and wonderful mother, “There is nothing on earth better than being a grandparent.”
Agreed, Mom. Except maybe being a grandchild.