When our baby was headed off to college, we decided to sell the house, simplify and downsize, BUT we fell in love with a big old house and our path has taken some surprising twists. Everyone in the family fell in love with this place. This is a home that seems to want lots of happy people dwelling within its walls. So, we made sure to immediate set up a room for our two gorgeous grandchildren with an adjoining room for guests. But we weren’t planning on FULL-TIME multigenerational living . . .
My husband and I occupy the entire third floor, which is tricked out with a green diva dream closet (renovated room turned closet party); a lilac and purple bathroom (my husband endures); our bedroom of course, which is spacious and accommodated our crazy huge antique bed; a separate TV room that we affectionately dubbed the bat cave because bats from the attic insisted on visiting us via the ceiling gap in there; and a small future meditation room, which for now has become the defacto cat litter hideout. Yes, we are spoiled, and I love it . . . unless of course, I’m in a hurry and I’ve forgotten keys or some other crucial item on the third floor. I should be in fantastic shape by now!
We had enough room on the second floor to build an amazing Green Diva studio. Wasn’t planning on this, but the GD Studio has been another of the gifts we’ve been blessed with here.
Our youngest occupied one of the remaining three rooms on the second floor, but is gone at college during the school year or away working at camp during the summer. So, she’s really only here a few weeks out of the year!
Last year, we adopted Gracie the wonder dog to help fill our hearts and this quiet house a bit. But generally speaking, I was getting used to having an organized house, where everything has its place and keeping up with my little daily messes is quite manageable. A strange sensation — being organized — but I was getting kind of comfortable with it.
The blessings have been big this past year with the Green Divas starting to thrive. I have reached that point in my life, where I could focus on my career more than kids and family. Interesting timing . . .
So, when my oldest daughter called a couple of months ago and said she and the kids needed to move in, I was rocked from my quiet, but busy world. It was a very exciting and daunting prospect. I ADORE my grand kids, Mason (almost 4) and Vivian (2.5). I love ALL my kids and love having the whole crew here for Sunday dinner, holidays, football games, birthdays, but was I ready to live with 2 little ones? They happen to be the exact age difference my two oldest were — 17 months apart. I was catapulted back to some challenging times as a young single mother and was immediately grateful I was indeed an energetic young woman at that time, and acutely aware that I’m not quite that energetic anymore!
But my daughter is an amazing mom. I’ve told her so many times. I marvel at how she is with her children. I’m quite sure she is better at it than I was. Such a happy thing for a ya ya (my grannie handle) to see. She assured me, she wouldn’t expect us to take on any parental duties and she would pull her weight around the house. She works full time with her stepfather (my husband) in his business and the kids go to daycare, so my days aren’t much different than they were.
My friends all groaned in sympathetic worry that I would end up a built-in babysitter and get trampled by toddlers in my own home. I confess, these things worried me a bit, but as a mother and grandmother, I didn’t really consider any alternatives. Having them move in was absolutely the right thing to do and I had faith that things would sort themselves out. And they have . . . phew . . .
Gotta be honest, as much as I love them all, as the big move approached, I felt the impending disruption in my boring little world more than the joy of having them here. But, then as any mom and ya ya would do, I just focused on helping my daughter and her children through a big transition and tried to forget my petty and selfish anxieties.
It’s been a month now, and with the exception of a few minor skirmishes and the extra toys and evidence of cute little people living in the house now, it has proven to be less stressful and much more fun than I anticipated!
I was so focused on logistics and details, I hadn’t calculated the pure joy of waking up to the sound of my grand kids padding up the stairs in their PJs because they need a cuddle with Ya Ya in the morning. Mornings as it turns out are awesome with grand kids around! The chaos of morning? Not so much, but their generally excellent disposition in the morning pretty much makes up for it.
After they’d been here only a week, I had to travel to Detroit for Green Diva biz, and it was fun to find them a couple of silly little gifts and be welcomed home by not only my husband and Gracie, but these two little happy faces.
I’m beyond grateful for this opportunity to have this time with my daughter and these two magnificent little souls. I’m enjoying the opportunities to talk with them about all kinds of things and they even went to a children’s service at my church, St. John’s, where we got to talk about being a light in the world.
Mason came with me to walk the dog yesterday, and as he held my hand and we crossed the street, he said, “Is this home now Ya Ya?” I thought about it for a second and said, yes, but that home wasn’t a house or a place necessarily and that he was lucky to have two homes (they still go to their father who lives in the house where they had ben living). We talked about how home was where your family is and that family isn’t necessarily just your mom and dad or sister or brother. While it may be a cliché, it seemed appropriate to say, “home is where your heart is.” He took this into serious consideration and seemed satisfied by this answer and we moved on to other important topics like why the dog was sniffing everything . . .
Like many households, we hunkered down for the big Super Bowl yesterday. The g-kids could care less and were a bit whiney after a big day of birthday-partying at a friend’s house. At first Pee Paw got irritated because they weren’t quiet, but instead of growling at them, which was his initial intention, he began playing with them in a way that allowed him to continue to watch the shaming of the Broncos in this year’s embarrassing and not so great Super Bowl. By half time, he had the kids in stitches playing with a balloon.
I’d say we are all making the best of the circumstances that put us here, and there isn’t much to complain about. I want my daughter to have an opportunity to heal from her breakup and feel supported by her family. It’s a bit confusing for the kids, but most of all, they know they are loved. I’m happy for this unscheduled disruption in my world. Like many of the best things in life, I didn’t plan it, but I sure am glad I’m here to enjoy it!
Stay tuned for more on My 3G Life, and how we are thriving in our multigenerational living experience!