My Mom Moved In With Me
Early this summer, my mom moved into our house. Since my dad died, it has been a struggle to care for the house and property he so dearly loved since he was a young man. Five acres is a lot of work for anyone, but it was especially difficult when we have over seven acres of our own to care for. My husband, mom, and I had discussions for months about what the best options would be. We reached the conclusion to build a small house on our property for her.
To have enough money to build her little house, she had to sell the family property. To facilitate good showings of the house, my mom moved into my home. It was a huge change for everyone. We started by putting most of our older son’s things into boxes in the shed since he’s in college. The boys shared a room, something they haven’t done for ten years. My mom had to squish into a small bedroom when before she had a nice master suite.
I knew there would be some weirdness in the beginning. I mean, she’s my mom, but it’s my house. My family has our routines and preferences on how to do things. She may have raised me, but we are different in many ways. Yet, I was unaware of how many challenges there would be from my position.
Some of those challenges included:
My mom likes to talk first thing in the morning. She doesn’t say, “Good morning,” but she wants to have a full-on conversation. I prefer quiet for the first 10-20 minutes. My brain slow in the mornings, and I enjoy getting ready with little chatter. My mom will also sit in the living room or at the dining room table and read her mail or portions of her book aloud to me. This can be frustrating when I’m trying to read or work.
My mom disciplined my children while I am present. “Discipline” is too strong of a word, but she would call them out on things like not doing their chores or fighting. I took offense to it because it made me feel I wasn’t doing my job. It was also inadvertently causing more stress on the kids. Not only was I telling them to get their chores done, but grandma was too.
My mom asked several times a day, every day, if I was okay. I stare into space or have no facial expression when I am thinking. It irritated me to have to answer her many times a day that I was fine, only thinking.
My mom asked if it was okay for her to hang a picture in her room, sit in the living room while I was there, or get something to eat. I wanted her to feel as if it was her home, too, so she could do whatever she would usually do at home. It seemed she felt like she was limited to her room.
My mom would get antsy or bored and ask me what she could do to help. I would say, “Nothing,” because I’m used to doing everything alone. This contributed to her depression.
If you ever have to live with your parents, for whatever reason, remember where they are coming from.
Solutions we discovered:
My mom is lonely. She talks in the morning because she’s used to having that time with my dad to talk about what’s happening that day. My mom chatters about small things with me because that’s what my parents did. She hasn’t had that since he passed away, and she’s lived alone for months, with only the dog and cat for company, and they aren’t marvelous conversationalists. I’ve gotten in the habit of waking up a little earlier so I can have a few minutes of quiet before going to the main rooms. That way, I am not grumpy when she wants to have a conversation as soon as she sees me.
She was only trying to help by telling my kids to get their chores done. Since my husband works out of town, I am the only parent in the house for most of the year. My mom was trying to back me up. I asked her to tell me if she notices the kids not doing what they’re supposed to so I can deal with them. This way, they only have one person questioning them, but sometimes I’m tired, and I would love her help. This is still a challenge with a solution in progress.
My mom has realized my thinking faces and stares, and no longer asks me if I’m okay.
My mom seems more relaxed and will do what she wants in the house, for the most part. I am trying to encourage her to treat my home as her own. After all, construction on her house is taking much longer than any of us expected. This arrangement will probably go on until next spring.
She is not a house guest; she’s part of the family. She needs to feel useful by helping with chores. I did not do her any favors at the beginning of her stay by treating her as a guest. Giving her jobs to do, even small ones, allows her to feel like she’s contributing to the household. I am still working on giving up total control, but I have started delegating more.
There have also been benefits to having my mom living with us. The biggest benefit so far is having a live-in sitter when I travel. I usually take one or two trips a year where I cannot take my family, but this year I ended up traveling four times. My mom has never said no to watching my children for me, even when they were little. It is a blessing having her immediately available. There are not any shuffling of sleeping arrangements or packing for anyone else but me.
I am also grateful for her on busy soccer nights when she is home to start cooking dinner. Without her, we would eat dinner at either 4 pm or 8 pm. Sometimes she gets the meat started, while other nights she cooks the full meal. Either way, it has been a huge relief for me.
To foster peace in our home, I need to look at my behaviors towards my mom. As I said before, she has been lonely. After over forty years of marriage, she doesn’t know how to be alone. I am used to being alone, despite fifteen years of marriage, since my husband usually works out of town. I need to remember to express more gratitude for my mom’s help. This will help her feel valued and loved. Finally, I need to have more patience with her. She is learning how to run a multi-child household; she only had to raise me. Our routines are a lot different from hers and sometimes do not mesh well. But that doesn’t mean I get to feel irritated with her.
If you ever have to live with your parents, for whatever reason, remember where they are coming from. Do not forget the reasons that brought them to live with you — or you with them — and love them. They worked hard for you when you were growing up. At some point, the tables will turn, and you will need to work hard for your parents.