For the better part of last week I had a family — here, at my house. My daughter’s air conditioner gave up the fight and they had to get a new one. During the wait and installation they lived with me. Some days we had three of the children, sometimes we had only the youngest. (The oldest was at gymnastics camp in Pennsylvania.) Oh, and the cat! I forgot to mention the cat.
It was fun being part of a family again. I missed them when they moved back home. While they were here, I found myself relaxing into the chaos that having children entails. There’s almost always one who’s hungry, one who needs a ride to somewhere, one who needs a little extra attention, etc. Multigenerational families are a thing of the past in our American society. After last week, I can see reasons to bring them back.
There are times when moms and dads can’t stop what they’re doing in order to give extra attention to the child in need of it — even acting out to get it. But Grammy can. My little boy entertained himself for a long time after I snuggled with him on the couch and taught him to play Solitaire on my tablet. Granted, times are different. I learned to play by watching my dad play with a real deck of cards. Still, F and I had some quality time and he knows a new game.
I’ve written about my youngest grandchild S before. She’s five. She, of course, has a personality like no other. She constantly fascinates and entertains me. I can’t decide whether I should call her my “bag lady” or my little “pack rat.” She borrowed an empty purse to put her “finds” in, but quickly decided it wasn’t big enough when she discovered one of my large canvas grocery bags. She took her bag and went about her days accumulating “stuff.” It seemed harmless enough to me. Occasionally she would show me one of the treasures she had in her stash. No problem, right?
After “little missy” went home, I found her bag in an upstairs bedroom. I picked it up. It was heavy. How on earth had that small child carried it up the stairs? And down? And up? As I emptied the bag, I was able to solve many mysteries . The Earl Grey tea we couldn’t find for breakfast? The entire package was in her bag along with the missing place mat, a partial set of coasters, a flying pig doorstop, a modern-day version of the Bible, a book of positive quotes to start your day, some cocktail napkins, a bar of soap — I could go on and on. How I wish I had taken a picture of her mountain of goodies.
They have gone home now to their once again cool house. I miss them. I’ve been thinking as I write that it certainly was fun having someone to “blame” when I couldn’t find things. And guess what! Even though they have moved back home, I’m no longer alone. I have a cat! That’s right, they left Lulu with me. I’ve adopted her. We’re getting along very well, adapting to each other’s idiosyncrasies. It seemed the natural thing to do. You see, Lulu doesn’t do well with children. She’s getting less nervous every day. Maybe I am, too.
Aaah, there it is, Lulu’s arrival ! And I’m with you on multigenerational families. I’m not sure I could live with my parents all the time, even though they are lovely, they would drive me potty. But to have them closer and more regularly around would be fab for everyone… Mum just stayed for two weeks to mind the children before school started, and the children loved the extra attention as you mentionned (funnily enough, she taught my son to play solitaire with cards, must be a grandma thing 😉 ), mum loved having them, and I certainly loved having the extra pressure taken off my shoulders…
Anyway, I never replied to an old comment of your about air con. We regularly have heatwaves in the Summer, but they usually only last a couple of weeks, and most people do not have air con in France. 🙂
I don’t really think my daughters and I would like constant togetherness either. I’m glad I live near two of my three, though.
I think it would be wonderful to live in an area where you don’t need air conditioning. I spent the weekend in the NC mountains just one county over from my hometown. It was wonderful. Here in Charlotte I find myself using the a/c from April to October some years. It’s the humidity.
LOL. I guess I’m doing okay as long as the weather is the only thing I have to complain about.
Thanks, Deb. I’m very happy to make you smile. I think it’s all about grandmother joy and grandmother love. Every child should be able to partake. It’s my job to see that mine do.
I couldn’t tell you what it is about this post, but I am just beaming as I finish reading it. Thank you for this smile, Pat. Much, much love to match it!
Lovely! I could happily live with my daughter and her family and their families – but none of them has offered me a home yet! Maybe in a few more years when I’m old and decrepit … who knows! Lulu is a beauty – reminds me a little of Henri the existentialist cat in appearance, but not at all in her attitudes!
Hi Cat! I have three daughters and no one has invited me either. I’m thinking the same as you — maybe when I’m old and decrepit.
I’m enjoying Lulu. She has adapted now and is a very happy camper here with me.
Such lovely comments. I too felt all cozy and warm while reading. You made me think of my Polish grandmother Mary who I lived with when I was a teen in Fairfield Connecticut. Your afghan would be a great symbol for her old fashioned, white picketed fence kinda home complete with an apple tree, a vegetable garden and hydrangea bushes, known by her, as snow balls enveloping the front yard. I can even feel the breeze billowing from the beach that began at the base of her road. Beautiful prose indeed.
Hi Susannah. Thanks for your lovely comments. It makes me happy to know I evoked some pleasant childhood memories for you. I think my role as the grandmother is to create memories for my little ones.
The afghan — I had just finished it when I started this post. A photo of it seemed appropriate. I have made a goal recently of using up yarns and fabrics that I have on hand. I’m trying to learn to be more of a minimalist. Wouldn’t you know — I had to go out and buy more of the dark gray in order to finish the project. At least my intention was pure.
Thanks for reading.
Thats a lovely read. I don’t have grandchildren but I look forward to them. I agree that multi generational households are so much richer to live in, though sadly unfashionable. As for your five year old grandchild with her bag. she sounds like a real treasure to me
Hi Ducks. Thanks for your kind words. You are going to love having grandchildren. That little five year old entertains me without even trying. She is so busy and funny and yes, a real treasure.
Love this post. It made me smile. And look at you…you have a new kitty!!! Lulu is very pretty.
Hi Amy! I’m glad I could put a smile on your face. Lulu is helping me to smile more. She’s a sweet kitty.
I live in a very expensive city where it is becoming more and more common to have extended family living together. Most new houses here are built with a mother-in-law quarters or downstairs apartments or some sort of separate-but-attached dwellings. My own house is like that. We have a complete downstairs apartment which my daughter and her family rents from us. They have thought about buying their own place, but it is so convenient for them here. They are in a good neighborhood and there is always someone to lend a hand when needed.
Of course, it is sometimes not easy to live with in-laws, but on both sides we have learned how to live this way. I love it. It was the main thing that got me through the dark days right after I learned of my husband’s betrayal.
Glad you have Lulu now!
Hi DJ. I can’t help thinking that more and more families will do as your family does. I do think it’s nice that your daughter’s family has a separate apartment. Seems like the perfect arrangement for all concerned.
It would have helped me through the dark days, too. In face, when I’m particularly down I go across town to see the children. They never fail to cheer me.
Lulu and I are good for each other. It’s good to know there’s a living, breathing being inside as I unlock the door.
Ahhhhhh, Pat, your posts make me feel warm inside.
Lulu is a doll. I am sure you will both fall in love w/ one another.
One of my fave. things to do is to rest my head on my cat and listen to him PUrrrrrr.
Love to you, dear. Xxx
What a wonderful compliment, Chickie. Thank you. See comment above about Lulu. She likes to sit next to me on the couch at night while I read or watch TV. If I get up even to get a drink of water, she goes back to her bed. After I sit back down for a while she comes back and purrs for me. I’m loving having her.
What a lovely post Pat – as I read I felt part of that wonderful chaos that you describe. I have to say that as for your “little missy” she has good taste – the Earl Grey tea no less. Lulu is a wee stunner. Isn’t it wonderful what comes out of unexpected chaos!
Thanks for your kind words, Jacqui. I’m still laughing about “little missy” and the tea. I wish you could have seen us looking for it. As for Lulu, she and I are getting fonder of one another every day. This morning she came upstairs looking for me. I’ve learned not to push myself on her. I let her come to me.