Posts Tagged ‘granny nanny’

Back to school shopping – pros walk left – amateurs stand right

by Kanesha

I do miss the days when back-to-school prep came after Labor Day, but based on where we live now – we have to be up and running by late August. Oh – it’s thrilling and yet so painful!

I snapped this picture on July 5. Good grief - what an early reminder!

Gearing up for middle school has been fun and busy. Thank goodness my mother-in-law has been an incredible cheerleader.

It was very sweet and extremely cute when my mother-in-law came home one day with some school supplies she had purchased.

My children and I watched her excitement as she showed us her loot and she said,

“It’s that time of year. I love getting new notebooks. Checkout this great pencil box. I can use if for a bunch of things.”

My daughter jumped up to admire and touch the new items. My son grabbed his tiny backpack and said, “I need new stuff too.”

And it was time, time for back-to-school shopping.

Anyone with a preschooler knows they aren’t always the best at running errands – especially errands you want to complete quickly. During dinner on a Thursday night, my hubby slowly leaned across the dinner table and seriously said,

“Look mom, there will be a run on school supply shopping this weekend, so we must go tonight. It’s been a long day, but we need you to watch the little one while we run out. Can you do this?”

My mother-in-law looked at her son directly and immediately nodded in affirmation. I had to keep my composure because the seriousness of this back-to-school discussion was kinda over the top.

And off the three of us went (as the three-year-old wailed from the front porch) to secure the goods for, in my daughter’s words, “the best school year EVER!

The school supply list was humongous! Many of the 40+ items were exotic office supplies in my opinion – things I don’t even have access to as a working professional.

  • 2 packages hole reinforcements
  • 3 pack dry erase markers
  • 2 packages of dividers with pockets (8 count each w/ tabs)
  • USB Flash Drive

And the list goes on…

What happened to the days of loose leaf paper and some pencils? Ok ok,  it’s middle school – so I would add some some pens to the “non-exotic” list.

Not only were we buying supplies for classroom use, we had to purchase locker accessories as well. Interior design for this tiny locker…so many decisions, so little time – it was already 7:30pm.

Hubby and the middle schooler - on task with the mega list

I had to chuckle when I heard one dad say,

“Why are we here shopping? I could easily just get all of this stuff from my office!”

Prior to this shopping adventure, I felt the same way as that dad. I just wanted to buy the pre-packaged school supply kit and get on with it. But the way my multigenerational family approaches school supply shopping is a treat to watch.

My daughter sits at the kitchen table going through the sales papers. My mother-in-law moves between the stove and table to peer over my daughter’s shoulder and point out good deals. Hubby talks about new supplies he wants for himself because new stuff is “so awesome”. My son agrees with everyone and  clearly sates what he’ll take to his school. I sit and watch the frenzy of it all.

I do have to admit, I enjoy observing their excitement and joy for this time of year.

And on my daughter’s first day of school, the annual picture was taken in front of the tree (thanks to my mother-in-law for the quick reminder). My mother-in-law made an incredible breakfast (and good coffee). Wholesome lunches were packed and the new school year began.

I received a call at the end of the school day, from my daughter, and learned that middle school is great, the locker is not so terrifying, and the locker chandelier was a big hit. (WHAT? I bought a locker chandelier? Was that on the list?)

We have one full week of middle school under our belts and a bunch more to go.

The new middle school desk - full of middle school supplies

Our next transitional task…getting ready for preschool to start.

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First week of work – complete! Totally exhausted and guilt free!

It’s Saturday! Hallelujah!

Last Monday, I returned to work after my four-week July vacation. It was brutal re-entry, but I survived my first week and it was totally guilt free! Monday morning was a “Let’s get Kanesha up and ready” team effort.

Hubby helped me get out of bed so I could go on my morning walk. My daughter and hubby made sweet “back to work” cards for me. Hubby made breakfast for all of us, and a healthy lunch for me. My mother-in-law made some high-octane coffee for my travel mug (no Folgers), and my son did not protest when I left for work. Everything was moving along well.

There is nothing wrong with my job and I enjoy most of it quite a bit. I even have a “newer” job this year and a very long new title. The challenge with me going back to work is that it completely changes, topples, dismantles, upsets, drives (I could keep going)…the flow and balance of  our household.

Our world becomes more structured. More lists and checklists are constructed. Details of schedules and stuff to do have to be minded. The family calendar must be updated and maintained.

I had to laugh at the family calendar last Sunday. I went to look at it and noticed it was STILL on June and had not been updated. I could barely see the calendar on the bulletin board. Why?

Because it was summer.


All of this “back to work” prep could drive any working mother into a tailspin of feeling massive guilt. I refuse to fall back into that line of thinking, especially since I have a well-functioning and supportive multigenerational household.

A few weeks ago, I was reading an issue of Working Mother (at the pool). The article that jumped out at me was Anatomy of Guilt by Ilisa Cohen. The article dissects the various factors and influences that lead working women (not men) to feel guilty about balancing their families, careers and time for themselves.

I used to feel this guilt all the time and it was not good. As the article states, guilt can make you ill. Guilt can tamper with your ability to sleep well. Your weight may fluctuate because the guilt may cause you to over or under-eat. You may become tense which can lead to digestive problems (especially if you are feeling too guilty to make time to get to the gym). It’s hard to focus on things when you are feeling guilty. This is magnified if you are feeling guilty about being a good mother.

I did experience many of these guilt ailments before my mother-in-law moved in with us. I struggled with figuring out how to be super at all the things I was trying to do. I asked my hubby once, before our second child was born, “Do you ever feel guilty about going to work and being away from home?” He looked at me like I asked him if I could take Hugh Jackman as my lover. Ok, I’m exaggerating a bit, but hubby did give me a strange look.

His response, “Why would I feel guilty about going to work? People have to work. That’s just how it is. I’m being productive. Why would I feel guilty?” Hmmm…oh, ok!

Since my mother-in-law has been living with us, I feel like I have a great team for managing a busy, productive, healthy and fun lifestyle. The kids are not over-scheduled. We have dinner together almost every night. If I need to work late, I know the kids are at home with my mother-in-law (and sometimes hubby) having fun and getting their needs met. I do not have to bend my schedule to attend all the during the day school events because my husband, mother-in-law and I rotate our attendance, and we often videotape the events so we’re not missing out.

My son climbed into my lap, last Sunday, and told me he would miss me “gynormously” when I went back to work. (He learned that word watching Charlie and Lola.) That made me feel loved, but not guilty. I reminded him that my mother-in-law had a fun week planned for him and they could call, email and text me if he had something urgent to report while I was at work. He thought that was great and he said he would be waiting for me, on the porch, so he could give me an after work hug. And when I got home, there was my son and mother-in-law, rocking in the rocking chairs and happy to greet me after my first day of work.

One work week done. A bazillion more to go!

Oh, and we updated the calendar. I’m still rearranging that bulletin board…

Everybody Loves Raymond…especially when it’s NOT my reality

by Kanesha

Summer vacation is going great!

We’re sightseeing, eating too much, spending time together, and watching silly TV.

Last night when the kids were snoozing, hubby and I were snuggling and watching a super old syndicated episode of Everybody Loves Raymond. It definitely made the oldie but goodie list.

This episode was the one where the five adults are playing “Scruples” and Marie, in her overbearing and “who me?” manner asks if Ray would TAKE HER IN when she’s elderly. The squeamish, passive aggressive, and “five-year-old” Ray says YES.

Of course Debra is horrified and immediately follows Ray into the kitchen to ask him what his problem is.

“Shouldn’t this be a decision that should be discussed?… Marie might be taking you seriously.”

Click —> full episode synopsis

Hubby and I immediately looked at each other and laughed so hard our stomach muscles ached.  Yes – it seemed innocent.  Yes – it was just a game.  BUT – Debra was right – Marie was serious when asking Ray. (And let me point out  how manipulative Marie was being in making up the question in the first place. Boo, Marie, boo!!)

Debra from a separate episode:

When I got married, I didn’t just get a husband; I got a whole freak show that set up their tent right across the street! And that would be fine–if they stayed there! But every day–every day–they dump a truckload of their insane family dreck into my lap!

Hubby:

When we originally discussed my mom moving into our house, Kanesha was pregnant and we were looking at childcare.  We don’t remember who first mentioned the option nor if we were serious when it was first discussed.

Kanesha:

I totally remember who suggested it. You’re mother! She said something like, “Well, maybe I should sell my house and move in to help you all with the baby since I didn’t know I could still get grandchildren.” We didn’t know how serious this was at first…

While I watched Debra imagine her future with Marie living with her (and not just across the street from her), I felt myself saying:

1.  How dare he make this decision without consulting you! I would shake him!

2.  Debra, does Ray even realize the dynamic of your relationship with Marie? Is is really a blind fool? (I’ve watched the show enough; YES he is!)

3.  This development (the “invitation” to Marie) calls for drastic measures. Debra, you may have to go on whoopie strike or find a referral for a good divorce attorney.

3.  Put your foot down and tell Ray that all of you need to go to family counseling before you will even CONSIDER this multigenerational set-up.

4.  Start drinking heavily, but no driving.

5.  Continue the whoopie strike!

Had my mother-in-law been like Marie, conniving, controlling, and overbearing, there is absolutely no way I would have considered having her live with us. Before our multigenerational household was realized, my relationship with my mother-in-law was already one of friendship, camaraderie, discovery and proper boundaries. She is NO Marie!

Here are some quick and dirty tips, from me, if you are considering setting up a multigenerational household:

1.  Don’t consider multigenerational living if you recoil in horror just thinking about it. It’s not for everyone.

2.  Be honest throughout all discussions about living with parents/in-laws (or other family members). You’re not going to become a saint for saying YES, when you really want to say NO!

3.  If you have a hard time being honest and articulating your ideas during verbal discussions, write your thoughts down and create talking points. This is not the time to be a martyr.

4.  Seek out a mediator (e.g. counselor, life coach, clergy member, psychologist, etc.) to talk things through as a group. This may make any challenging discussions safer.

5. If finances are the catalyst for you considering multigenerational living, be sure to look at all possible solutions so that you are not being backed into any corners.

Multigenerational living is pretty comical and there are lots of stories that could be scripted for a sitcom.  Do you have any stories that you can share with us that are worth of a sitcom?

the TCC and a spit-swap = the best July 4th

Are there moments from your childhood that are fresh in your mind – as if they happened yesterday?   

Most July 4th holidays from my youth are like that for me – clear in my mind; one for a “rite of passage”  moment and the others for the consistently shared experiences among family.  I had my first adult-like kiss on the golf course at a 4th of July picnic, with a boy who shall remain nameless, while fireworks burst in the sky above us (setting me up with totally unrealistic kissing expectations for the rest of my life).  As for the others, this was a holiday we always celebrated with my mom’s parents, picture below.  

Babuji and Honey - circa 1960

 

For 15 years, we observed Independence Day at the Tucson Country Club.  The club had a stunning display of fireworks every year that went on and on and on.  Nothing I have ever seen since can compare.  

Each year, after an enormous BBQ, the celebration started with 8 foot outlines of political, tv, and sports characters of the day, or meaningful scenes from American History being lit up inch-by-inch in fireworks – it was like watching dominoes of light trace the images and bring them to life.  After that, massive, intricate and colorful fireworks exploded over our heads for that seemed like an entire hour while we oohed and aahed.  The grande finale was always better than the year before.  

And while the fireworks were on display, we would continue to nibble at BBQ remnants; fresh corn, every kind of meat known to man, enough watermelon to swell a belly and invariably, thick, rich brownies.  As was often the case, my grandparents would talk about their adolescence in Nebraska and Colorado.  I heard stories every year, about what each of them did on the 4th of July when they were kids, “back in the day.”   

And though those stories might have become repetitive as a child, now, it is less the details of those stories that I recall and more the “feeling” of being with my grandparents.    

They are my roots, my history, my foundation.  

At the annual week-long reunion of my mom’s side of the family, the conversation turns to my maternal grandparents, as it often does, and my brothers, cousins and I will tell and re-tell stories about them we all know and love; we all still “feel” them – their pull on us, solidifying our determination to see each other every year, despite the varied zip coded in which we live, our commitment to each other and our families.   

I hope that well into the future, my kids will be able to recall with clarity all the memories they are making with my parents today, but mostly that they will be able to “feel” them in their lives forever.  

I love you and miss you Honey and Babuji!

Mom WAS here and all WAS right with the world…

by Kanesha

My mom has left our nest, and this seemed like the shortest visit ever!

The kids and I dropped her off at the airport today and all four of us were sad. My mom hated to say good-bye, my daughter looked bewildered, and my son cried loudly for approximately 10 minutes. I just sighed, gave my mom a tight hug, and drove west. It’s a weekday and we had stuff to get home and do.

When my *MIL travels, we have to do the granny exchange because we rely on my MIL for childcare. I breathe easily when I know my mom is coming to town because she’s MY mom, but I also get a bit jammed up because life is in progress, and  it’s often hard to get my mom up to speed on what we need her to do and how we need her to do it.

My mom is a vivacious southern belle who says what she thinks at all times. She likes things tidy, presentable and looking good. This I love. At the same time, she’s whimsical and does not often adhere to a schedule. That drives me bonkers.

Me & mom on the swan paddleboat

Me & mom on the swan paddleboat

When my mom swoops in to take over the granny-nanny role, hubby and I just let things slide. It’s a gift to us that my mom is willing to help us with childcare, and it’s not worth it to us to try and get her to do things the “regular” way.

I don’t spend time comparing my mom and MIL. That’s just silly (and would make me check-in to a mental health facility).  They are two different people. One raised me and one did not. One I’ve known my entire life and the other I have not.

What I do compare is  the way the “moms”  make me feel in helping me with my children. I’m more easygoing and relaxed with my mom in regards to my children because my mom knows me and I don’t feel judged! We have many common interests and enjoy some of the same activities. There are also things we agree about in raising and caring for children. If there are things on which we don’t agree, it is very easy for me to talk to my mom about it, get emotional, talk about it some more, kiss and make up, and then move forward.

On the other hand, my MIL and I have a very good relationship and we can talk about most things, but the structure is very different.  If I see communication obstacles coming up, I will slow down and try to talk it through. If that does not work, I’ll try to send an email. And if THAT is not working, I’ll get my hubby involved.  I pride myself on being a problem-solver, but I do I recognize my hubby may be the best person to deal with any specifically tough  or touchy conversations because this is his mom and he has more experience with her than I do. There are also cultural differences in experiences, language and communication styles and honestly speaking – I can be too impatient to stop, think, and process things with my MIL, so my hubby can be the informal mediator.

In the meantime, I’ll be counting the days until my kids and I get to hang with my mom (and stepdad) this summer, and it’ll be worth the wait.

BTW…my MIL was due back in town tonight, but her flight was CANCELLED. So, hubby is on “granny-nanny” duty tomorrow because my schedule is FULL!

How would you describe the ways  you communicate with your parents and in-laws? What is your comfort level in either situation?

(*MIL = mother-in-law)