Grandparents in the family picture

by Louise

This morning while reading about Melania Trump’s move to the White House, the article mentioned that her parents had moved to Washington. Wasn’t clear whether they moved to the White House too or were living separately but they had been living in the Trump Tower.

Michelle Obama’s mother lived with the family while they occupied the White House. I wonder about the impact on my kids from living with their grandparents. Perhaps my kids situation is more common than I thought.

In the situations above and in most current day situations it has been the woman’s parents in the picture, not her in-laws.

What do Totebaggers think of having grandparents in the picture ? I know some Totebaggers are grandparents themselves, what do they think ?


193 thoughts on “Grandparents in the family picture

  1. I think it all depends on the grandparents. And you, Louise, would have way more experience dealing with grandparents on the scene than most of us.

    I hope I can be part of my step-grandchildren’s lives, but they will live on the East Coast, so it won’t be daily. I suspect my DIL’s parents will move to Boston when the grandchildren arrive.

  2. I think it makes a lot of sense for parents to rely on grandparents in a situation like this because there is so much travel and some evening events.

    My parents don’t live with us, but they are a primary reason that we were both able to work in financial services for so many years. I did occasionally send my babysitters to doctors or school events, but it wasn’t the same as having a grandparent present.

    It was the travel at my job that was the crushing blow, but it was manageable when my parents were younger because they could stay here overnight. I can completely understand why the Trumps and Obamas would want to have grandparents nearby.

    I don’t think I could EVER live with my parents or FIL, but my DD still sees at least one grandparent almost every week. We rotate when we meet them for dinner etc.

  3. I am of mixed feelings about this. I love that my kids interact regularly with grandparents, but having my in-laws so close is challenging. MIL is very old school in terms of expectations, deference, etc. We’ve had our own life for so long it is difficult/impossible to integrate with ILs in the way that they want/expect. We have settled on a weekly dinner, and that is working well.

    The issue in that my ILs moved near by when my kids were teens and had their own lives.

  4. My MIL who lives about an hour away has been the most involved with the kids – particularly with DD and when DD was younger. Or more accurately – when my MIL was younger. She’s now 82 – and while she’s in pretty good shape for someone who is 82, she’s definitely slowed down these last couple years.

    My mom was too out of shape to do much with the kids other than reading stories while they sat next to her. One of my motivators for exercising is so that if my kids ever have children of their own, I’ll be able to be more of a hands-on grandparent (e.g. walk a couple blocks with them to the park, stay overnight, go in the pool with them, etc.).

  5. One of my motivators for exercising is so that if my kids ever have children of their own, I’ll be able to be more of a hands-on grandparent (e.g. walk a couple blocks with them to the park, stay overnight, go in the pool with them, etc.).

    Exactly. Well, that and to actually be around (vs 6 feet under) when the time comes.

    I am concerned that DW will end up being like SSM describes her mom. But there’s no motivation on her part to address the issue. I have not yet begun the needed discussion.

  6. We’ve been hoping to move home for a couple of years to be closer to our parents but finding a job in my husband’s field of law in New England is difficult. My ILs are 69 and my parents are 69 and 64 so still relatively young and I’d like my kids to have more regular contact (and selfishly I’d like to spend more time on Cape Cod). I would have to set firm boundaries with my MIL but she’s a really good grandmother. I’d rather not live with any of them (and suspect they would feel the same way) but it would be nice to be close enough where they can help and be more involved in the kids’ lives (and also a trip here or there with just my husband would be nice).

  7. Fred – you are a brave man. That is a tough conversation.

    My kids see their grandparents every few months for a few days at a time and have visited them for extended periods of time during the summer (as well as other family). I think that is about right. My MIL (who is younger than my mom) can still keep up with the kids, but after a few days she is worn out. My mom really can’t keep up with them for more than a few hours anymore or very sedentary activities. The last visit to see us, we had our sitter tag along if DH or I couldn’t join. When we visit her home, another adult is usually present.

    I think we’ve done OK given the distance. I don’t think I would have wanted either side to move to live near us.

  8. I think about this moderately often, because my kids have had minimal grandparent influence in their lives. This was largely unavoidable, due to my mom and FIL having terminal cancer and the associated years of caregiving, but MIL lives within driving distance and could visit occasionally if she wanted to.

    I don’t assume anything I do will assure that I will be alive/in sufficient health to help with grandchildren, but I have promised myself that I will push myself to be supportive, which is defined as some childcare, including for business trips if desired and traveling for visits vs. expecting my kids to travel and fund it. I think Mr WCE will also wish to be an involved grandparent and he is very good with young children.

    We will be the first generation in our families that realizes maintaining a relationship over distance is feasible. MIL and her other two sons live within a few houses of each other, so the effort to maintain a relationship over distance with our family isn’t on her radar.

    We’ll see if the boys are willing to try overnight church camp this summer- none of them has ever spent a night away from us.

  9. Trend with my friends is that grandma relocates to a smaller home near grandkids (same neighborhood, usually within a few blocks) soon after grandpa passes on or grandkid #1 arrives. These were all well-off SAHMs that have good relationships with their kids. When I was young, we lived 2 houses away from my grandparents. My parents fully took advantage of it….free babysitting at a moment’s notice.

  10. There are so many factors with involvement of grandparents in children’s lives that can’t be controlled such as age and health. I was fortunate to live near my parents, but they were both still working when DD was born so they really were not going to be our primary childcare.

    We love my FIL, but he is much older and too frail to take care of DD alone. She was helping him walk on father’s day and their roles have already reversed because she is more of a caregiver when she is with him.

    I always say that my parents got married too young (my mom was only 20), and this was a contributing factor to their divorce. They were young, and didn’t know what they wanted in a life partner. The positive to there choice is that they were young grandparents even though I was an older mom. I already accept that I won’t be able to help DD in the same way with her children unless she happens to be a young mom. We exercise all of the time, but it is still a numbers game.

  11. Great topic.
    We lost the geographic lottery so moved away from both sets of parents early on and never looked back. So did all of my sibs but DH has two brothers who stayed. One lives around the corner and so his kids had constant contact. The other has a strange wife and she basically cut the kids off. So it doesn’t always matter how far away you live. I wished that we could see both sets of grandparents more often but not enough to even consider moving there.
    Now we are the grandparents. DS and family live near his inlaws and though I wish we lived closer I’m not ever moving there either. The other boys won’t be living there and when they marry and have families we will have to do more traveling.
    One thing that having little ones around makes clear is that there is a reason that fertility declines with age. It is much harder to lift and chase and stoop in your mid 50’s than in your mid 30’s. Hats off to the grandparents who provide child care but I could not do it.

  12. I wish we had grandparents around. Parenting would be so much easier, plus it is better for the kids. When I was pregnant with my first, I had fantasies that at some point, my mom would come live with us and help with the kid. But she passed away. She would have been amazing with my kids, so I really regret it. My father made twice a year visits but it was always clear that he was going to be more involved with his new wife’s grandkids, because he never had much of a bond with his own kids. My DH’s parents were always a little too far, and a little too old, to give us much help.

  13. Another thing that makes me sad is that my kids have a slew of cousins only 2 hours away, that they barely know. The oldest cousin is the same age as my oldest, and they go down in age to about 2 for the youngest. The cousins all socialize with each other. But when we go up, they never seem to be invited. I think a problem is that, although they are in roughly the same age range as mine, they are a generation off – they are kids of DH’s nephews and nieces (DH is a lot younger than his sibs). So when family events happen like Thanksgiving, they don’t come or show only for an hour because they are doing their own family events. Recently, we got invited to what was billed as a cousin’s dinner, and I thought, oh boy, this is perfect. But it turned out to be a adult only dinner for DH’s elderly cousins, not the kid cousins. I really don’t want to go – it would mean 2 hours each way, and we would have to leave our kids at home which I am not comfortable with for that amount of time and distance(oldest two are fine, in fact I am leaving the oldest alone overnight this week, but dynamics with the youngest mean they are never in real control). And all that just so we could go sit with a bunch of really boring cousins in their late 60’s.

    I am trying to figure out how to get the cousins down this way. One of the nephews has expressed interest in going to Natural History – I may invite them to come down and go with us.

  14. My own grandparents lived close by so we saw them frequently but we went home at the end of the day. One set of cousins who lived with grandparents were polite to their grandparents but I suspect didn’t like living with their grandparents. My kids are perhaps the same way. My inlaws behavior has made them unwelcome at their other son’s houses, so they don’t really have a relationship with their other grandkids but they are never ones for self reflection. Also, their expectation is that, they took care of their sons but the sons don’t show the same level of care.
    My kids have a great relationship with my parents.
    The one thing with the grandparent around is that we are available to help them out and not miles away if a health crisis strikes.

  15. I like having family nearby just so that my kids can have that as a “normal” experience, vs. the way I grew up with all of the grandparents/aunts/uncles living everywhere and I’d maybe spend a week or two visiting in the summer. It’s great from that standpoint. But we never relied on my mom for childcare, because she had her jobs, so negotiating pickup one or two days a week was about the size of it (the promised babysitting so we could go out almost never materialized, because they went to the beach almost every weekend!).

    Now it’s honestly a little too close; ever since my stepdad died, I find myself getting impatient with the emails and the offers to do stuff and whatever, because I just want to focus on my own stuff — and frankly, the kind of stuff she enjoys tends to be different than the kind of stuff we enjoy, so it’s usually agreeing out of duty vs. something that we’re really excited about doing. But I do try to remind myself that I chose this and it’s still better than the alternative. And it will definitely be helpful when she starts needing help.

    But there is no way on God’s green earth that I will ever share a house with my mother ever again.

  16. “I think it all depends on the grandparents.” Yes, this does seem true. Ideally it would be nice to live nearby so close relationships with the kids can be maintained. My neighbors are fully enjoying their grandkid born last year and I’ve noticed they seem to be babysitting about weekly. The grandmother tells me it’s like all the good parts of being a mother.

    In my H’s family there is a tradition of grandmothers living with one of the kids. We had thought we might be the one to have MIL live with us but in hindsight I’m glad she ended up with another sibling. I don’t think I’m that great with multiple generations of adults living in the same house. We had a live-in nanny for about ten years and it worked out fine, but that was a case where I was out of the house many hours of the day and it’s different when you spend more time at home. Plus obviously different when you’re the employer vs. a close family member.

  17. When our kids were young we lived close by the ILs so they were available for emergency situations, like if our nanny was ill or in between nannies. We may have used them once or twice a year on average. I would not have liked having the grandparents as FT babysitters because I’d prefer to call the shots on caregiving and that can be hard with grandparents.

  18. “But there is no way on God’s green earth that I will ever share a house with my mother ever again.”

    Do you think she feels the same way? I’ve seen situations where the grandparent makes it clear she does NOT want to go to a nursing home and the best alternative is to move her in with one of her kids. Usually at some point it becomes too overwhelming and the grandparent ends up in a nursing home anyway. I saw one case where the grandmother stayed with her daughter’s family until the very end and it created a great upheaval for the family. Everyone had to change their lives to accommodate grandma but the daughter would have it no other way.

  19. I can’t live in the town where the grandparents live and frankly, I don’t care to live close to my parents because they aren’t nice and don’t care to know my children. We currently have our boat near them and before they left for their summer home, my dad was complaining to my mom that we were interfering in their schedule (of what I don’t know). I am not sure what is more hurtful – the fact that he is openly expressing his displeasure at my family’s presence in their home or that my mother felt the need to tell me this. They are the type of people that call my sister that lives 100 miles away when they drive by her exit. They don’t stop.

    I like my mother in law and I will take good care of her until her dying day but I don’t think either of us want to live in the same house…unless it is a compound with separate kitchens and living and sleeping areas for each branch of the family.

  20. I lived with my grandparents and they has a large hand in raising me. My mom lives with us and watches my boys most of the time. Both situations worked out well, and so far my mom can keep up with the kids. We are phasing in daycare because 2 under 2 is a lot of anyone.

    DH and I are the parents, but we talk out decisions out with my mom. We made a “pact” of sorts that we’d all have to be on board because the boys need consistency. So far that’s worked. It took a while to convince my mom of sleep training and 1-2-3 magic, but then she realized how well things are working. With 1-2-3 magic, I need to get her to not talk with DS1 so much while disciplining. I asked her to do that level of “lecturing” while things are calm and peaceful, not when hell is breaking loose.

  21. I lived with my grandparents and they has a large hand in raising me.

    Did you find that there was a certain tension in the parent/child relationship that’s totally absent from the grandparent/grandchild relationship.

  22. I grew up with my maternal grandparents living with us. I loved it. I never came home to an empty house. My parents traveled all over the world. My grandmother helped around the house which was great with 4 kids. My grandfather could fix a lot of things. He was a great gardener. He grew beautiful roses. He also took me to movies and the races. He would tell my mom we were going to NYC and we would get off one train and then get on the Big A special. So exciting!

  23. “Do you think she feels the same way?”

    Oh yeah. 100%. She is a neat freak and a control freak. I am, umm, not. We would kill each other in very short order.

    OTOH, I could see the tiny house in the backyard kind of thing, so we’d each have our own space. And she could even take care of the yard/garden for me, since she generally likes that sort of thing. Except she will never, ever move out of her house; I think a big part of the reason she saves all her money is so she can hire whatever help she needs down the road, up to and including live-in help, and never have to go to a “home.”

    (Of course, when she gets there, she’ll be too cheap to actually spring for it. But I will cross that bridge when I come to it. Or, more accurately, I will bodily shove her across that bridge when she comes to it.)

  24. “Did you find that there was a certain tension in the parent/child relationship that’s totally absent from the grandparent/grandchild relationship.”

    Not from my end. My dad and I didn’t get along at all (and really still don’t) but my grandparents and I and my mom and I have “easy” relationships. I remember my grandmother being a stricter disciplinarian than my mom actually.

  25. RMS nailed it–really depends on the grandparents. My parents didn’t get it that I needed (and wanted!) to dive into work after the semester or that I put a lot of thought into parenting. They were put off by the fact that I was single, expected an authoritarian chain of command from them to me to him, and I think in my mom’s case his being black threw her. Times when I really thought the presence of family would help–moving, conferences, tough times of semester–they had no desire to be around, and believed that sending money for babysitters (even when I didn’t want it) was just as good as being there. It made me sad. They visited when the semester was humming; I was able to convince them once to do something with him without me. I saw that as a win all-around–deepening their relationship with him, freeing me to get work done more efficiently than usual, him getting more attention than usual, them having the privilege of being with my delightful child. They reported no behavior problems, and my mom realized while they were out that he could indeed read. (I had told them, but she apparently didn’t believe me until he ordered the unhealthy thing she had skipped when reading him the menu). But they wanted my attention when they visited, not time with him. Recently when my mom (who told me she could go to the cities where conferences were held any time she wanted, and that she was busy making Florida friends, and not to bring work to their house or disturb my BiL using the sunroom as a study) made a wistful comment about my son not feeling closer/more connected to her, I wanted to laugh, cry, and shout all at once.

    When we were growing up, my mom’s mom visited for about a month every winter. Mom insists that was to help grandma, not for her to help with us. She really doesn’t seem to recognize that connection can flow in two directions. No, Grandma didn’t have to drive in the snow when she was with us, but she was also the unspoken default babysitter for the season of Christmas parties and New Years Eve, or when Mom was shopping in a city an hour away when we came home from school. I don’t know how well the two of them got along; she died the year after I graduated from college. I remember her just being there to hang out with. That brought us close and I think it must help lighten the load of other work to be able to focus and know the kids were ok because Grandma was around.

    It saddens me that Mom waited so long before wanting a connection with my son (she had the “grands” box checked off before he came along.) There are huge communication rifts between my mom and me that adversely affect him. I was never able to get the idea across to her that their presence would be better than another stranger when we were in a strange location. When I wanted them to be in our lives and enjoy, I think it felt to her like being forced to go to the school party or soccer game or to “admire” your kid’s pillow fort. I recently mentioned the NYT/WSJ/CHE articles I sent her then, and think I heard a gasp of recognition for the first time that they were about me and my life. No matter what I said to her back then, I could not convince her that my life and needs were not what she assumed.

    There were some very important decisions my mom made that I’ve talked about on here before. She and i discussed that last summer. She said that doing what she and dad had agreed to do to help us might have meant some of her material possessions would be damaged, and has no answer for why she didn’t tell me she had changed her mind early enough for me to do something different, or why her preferences for which course of action to take to keep her things safe was so important to her that she forced it through when I wanted to protect him. I’m not going to ask her any more. She might be beginning to see how much it has hurt his development, or maybe not. We can’t go back in time and change things. She now says she thinks I’m a good parent, which is new, and she no longer tries to push me to do it her way. Beyond that, I see no reason to discuss it with her or here. I include this paragraph only so there isn’t a gap.

    When we visit them, Dad will engage with us together or individually. She does not engage the two of us jointly. She can see and hear what we are doing, but when I toss to her, there is nothing. If it is an actual ball, she returns it in a manner that says “I’m giving this back” rather than entering the game*. If it’s a comment or question pulling her in, it falls flat. She is happy to see my dad and my son do an activity together, but 1:1 time between her and my son is so rare that when she does have an activity to do with him, he finds it awkward and staged. Part of that is her gender expectations–she used to cook with my nieces, but when I’d express how much I wished that my little boy could do more of that kind of thing than I could do with him and ask her to make something with him, she never did. (Hanging out with her isn’t much of a thing with us. She will with my sisters, but not with me).

    My son loves his grandparents and is concerned about them. He enjoys the fact that she keeps life and their home very orderly and predictable and likes doing things with Grandpa. At the same time, he can be critical of the distance she inserts between herself and us, and of her criticism of my dad and me. I’m sorry he didn’t have the experience of more than one person to love him through transitions when he was little. I think it would’ve helped his development not to be so dependent on one person only. But I’m glad for what he does have with them.

    So it depends on the grandparents, the middle generation, and their relationship.

    * a happy exception is the football that plays Buckeyes sports songs that we got them a couple years ago. We don’t follow football, but they watch every game. When we are there, all four of us play catch when OSU scores. They also cheer for Wisconsin. When the Badgers win, they do a polka.

  26. He also took me to movies and the races. He would tell my mom we were going to NYC and we would get off one train and then get on the Big A special.

    “When they get on that train to Niagara, she can hear the church bells chime.
    The compartment is air conditioned and the mood sublime.
    Then they get off at Saratoga for the fourteenth time”

  27. My parents can have the more “how do you feel”, “what do you think” kinds of conversations with my kids. My mother, can also have the “study and where do you want to go to college” talk with my kids. We as parents sound like broken records, the same thing coming from my parents sound like gems of wisdom.

  28. Short version: if a couple hrs is too much, no way would they have made it part of their daily life.

  29. “We love my FIL, but he is much older and too frail to take care of DD alone. She was helping him walk on father’s day and their roles have already reversed because she is more of a caregiver when she is with him.”

    Beautiful. I think old/young generations have a lot to give each other. It is also possible for kids to get the whole “circle of life” thing a lot more easily when their grandparents, who they can remember being stronger, need their help.

    Mooshi, yes, pick those cousins off one by one. After your kids know a few of them individually, I hope they feel more welcome in the group.

  30. My parents are excellent grandparents. My mom is in great shape for her 70s and has no problem handling my kids. My MIL is also very good but can’t handle them alone. They all want to show up for things like grandparents day at school. My kids see their grandparents about monthly, which I think is pretty good given our distance. The oldest emails a few times a week and all of the kids FaceTime and talk on the phone with their grandparents regularly. If my parents lived nearby, I would go back to work and have them be the backup care.

  31. Laura, could it be that “when she starts needing help” is now, even though it isn’t physical help? Is it you she wants, or is having a grandchild companion enough?

    “hen our kids were young we lived close by the ILs so they were available for emergency situations, like if our nanny was ill or in between nannies. We may have used them once or twice a year on average.”

    Sounds ideal!

    July, my mom has done the opposite–made it clear that she does NOT want to stay with any of us. I had thought it was just me she didn’t want to live with, but then I mentioned to her that my sister said something about a parent living with her some day, and she groaned. Being around people her own age is incredibly important to my mom, in ways I don’t understand.

  32. The variation in these responses is so amazing.

    Mia, I am so sorry about your parents’ attitude towards family. Good that your kids have others who care about them, (& since your parents do the same with your sister, you know it isn’t just you). Wishing you strength as your folks get older.

    Rhode, your mom must respect you. How cool is that!

  33. We had twice-a-year visits with one set of grandparents growing up, probably 3x/year with the others. We had good relationships with them but not super-close. It became closer when one set of grandparents moved close to my parents but I was a senior in HS at that point.

    My parents see the kids more often than DH’s parents – they come down frequently for my concerts and also for ancillary childcare when my sibling visits for the 1 younger cousin, and we go on vacation with them every summer. DH’s parents they see more sporadically, probably 4x/year, but one of those is the week by the lake, so they do get grandparent time. We have never lived close enough to have grandparent child care, except the first couple weeks after the kids were born when my mom came down right away to help. My parents’ stated intention is to move about 30 minutes away from us, but I think it will take them years to sell their house, so not sure when that will actually occur.

  34. My parents can have the more “how do you feel”, “what do you think” kinds of conversations with my kids

    Amazing! Those are the kinds of things I picture older generations not being comfortable with at all. Is it typical where your parents grew up for elders to talk about them? My very Midwestern parents didn’t talk about them with us, and are clearly uncomfortable when I bring up anything like that.

  35. RMS -My grandfather was not a Nathan Detroit type.
    My grandfather was not a gambler. He could stay for all the races and never bet a dime if he wasn’t comfortable with the field. He knew all the horses and jockeys. Read the Racing Form daily. He was a Wharton grad and loved the statistics involved in racing. He was also a well known champion bridge player in Philadelphia,and was sought after by wealthy people to be their partner in tournaments.

  36. L, what kind of place do they envision moving to? Town/rural, condo/sigle family home, assisted living? Is your oldest in early primary now?

  37. So this is the first summer that we’re doing the week with each set of grandparents for no particular reason. I never did this as a kid, except for the one time I was 10 and my grandma, then a widow, flew me out to Arizona as a reward for good grades and a possible relief for what was probably childhood anxiety from 4th Grade. However, DW and her brother did this most summers, with both sets of grandparents, and she was the impetus. Since my youngest is now a rising Kindergartener, and my dad is retired, it was a good time. And my in-laws will not be outdone in this regard, so when DW told them my parents had reserved this week, they quickly signed up.

    We get along great, but we’d all go crazy living together, for totally opposite reasons along the same spectrum. My parents are so disorganized. DW had me pack for the kids mostly T-shirts and shorts fully expecting them to be lost or processed through the dryer in a way that would ruin better clothes. Dinner is whenever. The fridge is disorganized, leftovers are covered with aluminum foil because who would bother with Ziplocks.

    At the other end of the spectrum, MIL needs her anxiety meds if someone puts a plate in the dishwasher the wrong way, or if someone wants to put something in the fridge that she doesn’t think fits well, or wants to record something that might put DVR content precariously above 80% storage capacity.

    So we won’t be living together. What’s remarkable is that age only accentuates their quirks, and in opposite directions. My wife can’t understand how my parents managed to successfully rear organized and productive children, but I assure her that they weren’t this disorganized. I can’t understand how MIL ever managed to live with young children without having hourly panic attacks, and likewise, she says she wasn’t this bad.

    We were on the phone last night with my parents at 8 pm, and they said they were just now getting packed up to head back to “the house in the woods.” That could mean another hour or more before they’re ready to go. So DW told the kids to put their pajamas on and sleep in the car, but Grsndpa had promised them a stop at Sweet Frog along the way. Oh, and the youngest hadn’t yet bathed after the beach and the pool and the hike.

    My mom called an hour later to say that they’ll stay one more night and leave in the morning.

    Truly, the experience is good for everyone involved, including us.

  38. SM – it is their personality more than anything else. My mother on one level is proper and discreet but she can also talk to people one on one and listen. She has a lot of friends and acquaintances. Being the eldest in the family she tends to keep the peace and float above the petty squabbles of her siblings. DD has inherited her capacity to befriend people.
    My dad handles things with humor.
    They make a good team.

  39. or wants to record something that might put DVR content precariously above 80% storage capacity.


  40. In my neighborhood, a lot of the older housing stock was built for multi-generational living. 2-flats, 3-flats, and houses with in-law apartments in the ground/basement level. Even some of the newer buildings still have garden “in-law” apartments – including my next-door neighbors whose parents live below them. It’s interesting because I think recent immigrant families have always lived in these buildings, it is just now that the families tend toward Indian and Mexican and not Italian and Greek (although there’s still some of that too).

    I am very thankful that our IL’s are nearby, healthy, and involved. Although I would not want them to live in the same building/house as us, and neither would they. They live about 30 minutes from us in another part of town. They told us that they were not up for daily childcare as they wanted to maintain the Grandparent relationship – which means fun and relaxing the rules when watching DS. That’s fine for once-a-month babysitting (which is about what they have provided since he was born), but it’s not really okay for the daily grind. I am really thankful that DS gets to grow up around a lot of extended family including a bunch of aunts/uncles (not a ton of cousins yet).

    My extended family was close geographically and emotionally when I was young, but then we moved 6 hours away, and I really missed them. My parents are 5 hours away, and I wish we saw them a little more. But mostly I wish we could hang out for an hour or two here and there, do casual things together once or twice a month like we do with my IL’s. I wish it didn’t have to be a big production to see them a few times a year. But it could be worse.

    As for the First Families. I think not only would it be great to have grandparents who can help, but I have always felt really sorry for First Kids because their lives are changed so dramatically by their parent’s job – and not all for the better. And having grandparents there helps provide some normalcy and unconditional love/attention.

  41. Milo, it’s very interesting how things change with age. My parents now take FOREVER to get ready and it’s maybe 10 am before they get going in the morning (although my dad was still out the door to work at 6:30 until he retired), even though my mom wakes up at 5:30.

    SM, they bought a single family. We encouraged them to look at condos or at least 1-level houses, but they didn’t like those.

  42. “My parents now take FOREVER to get ready and it’s maybe 10 am before they get going in the morning ”

    Yeah, don’t plan anything with grandma for before 11 in the morning. If she calls me at 9 she’ll ask if she woke me up.

    My MIL sounds a lot like Louise’s mother. Everyone loves her and she will learn your life story from your first conversation. She’s a peacekeeper. I struck gold with her.

  43. Louise, they sound like an ideal team–serious topics are so much easier to discuss with a bit of humor. Did you get as much benefit from this pairing growing up as your kids do now?

  44. Lauren, seriously. His references to it were both very cavilier and callous. I assume he isn’t trying to be a jerk, just hasn’t thought about the difference between how the word is used casually and living with the disorder.

  45. S&M,

    I’m not sure what you mean about Milo’s post. His MIL does seem to have a mild anxiety disorder.

  46. SM – at the time no, because my mother was too Tiger Mom with us but she definitely relaxed as the years went on. She was Milo’s MIL in her younger years.

  47. Milo just described my parents and my MIL. Last year my oldest spent the week with my parents. Everyone had a great time, but it will probably be a few more years before we do it again. My oldest needs organization and a consistent schedule. She admitted to me that she couldn’t stand dinner time rolling around and grandma and grandpa hadn’t even thought that she would be hungry. So when she would ask what was for dinner, grandma would open the fridge and start pulling out leftover in bowls with aluminium foil (why bother with tupperware or ziplocs) barely covering the contents and grandpa would open a cabinet and offer up Oreos. Eventually a last minute trip to the local coney island would be decided. It drove my daughter crazy.

    On the other hand, when she goes over to the other grandma’s house, it is very predictable and my oldest likes that. However she has to drink out of the heavy glasses (the kind that required two hands), because grandma can’t have cheap plastic cups, and the breakable expensive fine china knickknacks on the coffee table means that she has to always worry about breaking something.

  48. In the culture of my birth family, the iron-clad norm was for widowed women to move in with an adult child. To that end, my mother’s mother moved in with us after my mother’s father died, and she stayed for 20 years (until her death). It wasn’t an ideal situation. My grandmother (God rest her soul) was a very difficult woman in many ways, and although she helped a lot with domestic chores, it was very hard personally and emotionally for my mother to cope with her day-to-day.

    Based on that experience, my mother swore that she would never burden her own kids by moving in with them. She actually wanted to go to assisted living when she was no longer able to manage on her own. My brother has a big house, and he offered to have her move in with him, but she said no way.

    My relationship with my grandmother was a little strange, because my grandmother never learned much English, and I never learned much of the home-country language. So there was always a certain distance between us due to the language barrier, even though we lived under the same roof.

  49. Sac – pretty sure she’s on meds. Me, I’ve had blinking tics at various stressful points in my life: Kindergarten, 4th grade, freshman year of college.

  50. Wow, so many people who don’t want to be in the same town or interact too much with their parents. I truly, truly, truly hope that my kids don’t feel like that about me. My mother was so important in my life, and if she had decided to retire up to this area to be near the grandkids, I would have said yes in a minute. I was happy to leave my hometown, but sad to leave my family. I was on the phone with my mother several times a week, and once we all had email, we would exchange email several times a day at least. I really wish that she could have had time with my kids, because she was very good at just having fun with kids, doing projects or art, and just doing stuff that I am not so good at. In particular, I think she could have helped me a lot with my daughter, since she was always good at being accepting of things kids do. Not knowing her is a big loss for my kids.

    I really hope my kids stay nearby, or let me move near them. Especially if there are grandkids in the picture. I get jealous of all the tightknit families around here who see each other several times a week.

  51. One thing I’m sad about in my life is that my father didn’t live long enough to meet my children. He adored children, and he would have LOVED to be a grandfather. My mother at least got to meet the kids and revel in their baby/toddler years before she came down with Alzheimer’s.

  52. Ok. I understand that there is a difference, but this is just a casual blog post. He’s describing a story and I don’t think he thought he was going to be scrutinized by a clinical definition.

    I often post while I’m waiting for a subway, in line at the grocery store etc. I’m not always thinking about my exact words. I just think we should give each other a break. I really don’t think he meant any harm.

  53. What is wrong with covering leftovers with aluminum foil????? That is what I often do, and what my family did.

  54. MM – if I knew how to post a picture of my parent’s fridge I would. It is plates and bowls, sometimes a small pot or pan, topped on top of each other with loosely placed foil on top. The foil is never actually wrapped around the dish sealing the contents. It all leads to a disorganized fridge, with questionable freshness.

  55. RMS – she’ll be 67 this summer. So far she’s doing well, but I am fully aware of a time shortly coming where I’ll probably be hiring a nanny for her and the kids. And honestly, my kids get her out of the house. So I’ll take that.

    S&M – we respect each other. She believed for a time that my respect, as the daughter, should be automatic. I disagreed when I hit adulthood. There were a few years of bickering, but that’s all in the past. We treat each other as equals now.

  56. Speaking of food at the grandparents my kids have traditional food cooked by one grandmother (curries, rice, vegetables with spices). The other grandmother tends to cook things like grilled trout with sautéed vegetables.

  57. My MIL retired about 8 months ago and I think she sits in the house all day watching reality television. She’s always been a fastidious cleaner and there was always a deep cleaning before we visited (spring window washing, power washing the deck, etc.) and she told DH on Sunday not to expect the house to be clean because she probably wouldn’t be able to get around to it. He was shocked. Not that we care if the windows are washed but it was so unlike her. And when she visited over Christmas she kept asking me if I had seen various little people reality shows on Lifetime (apparently there are a few) and all of the Dance Mom type stuff. I can’t believe how much time she must spend watching television.

  58. My MIL’s fridge is the opposite. Every tupperware has to be a square container. If you bring over a dish in a circle container she’ll scoop it into one of her square containers. And each shelf is organized by height. It’s the extreme opposite of my own parents. I like to be somewhere in the middle.

  59. My mom used to wash and re-use ziplock bags. One Christmas I gave her a Costco box full of them.
    When visiting my dad, I warn him to purge before I arrive all of the desserts he brings up from dinner in styrofoam clamshells. He puts some of them in the freezer even though he does have some freezer-safe Rubbermaid containers.

  60. Atlanta Mom, this is why I have decided to never retire. Two of DH’s sisters, and some of his cousins, have retired now (remember I said they are a lot older?), and I have watched all of these people who were once interesting and active become boring and reclusive.

  61. Milo – your parents sound fun. Your kids are lucky to have both sets of grandparents take them for a week. I think kids can learn a lot from having the adults in charge do things a different way (be more flexible, etc.).

  62. Mooshi, i don’t get the aluminum foil thing either, lol!

    Lauren, casual or not, insulting people is not a good look.

    Milo, I hadn’t heard that about the ticks. My kid gets them too, usually with his eyes or his arm. But he could not fly off to stay with relatives for a week. We are supposed to be at Disney right now. We have reservations at one of the resorts. We have two days left on our park tickets, but aren’t using them because the last time we went, he was begging to go back to the room after 2-3 hrs, and doesn’t want to be stressed with it today. I could maybe make him leave now, maybe not. Last time we went to his favorite hotel, he was really anxious to get back home after the second night, and disappointed to hear we had one more day. Yesterday we went to Target. It was the second time he’d been out in a week. I won’t try to diagnose what was going on with you twenty years ago, but I’ve read a bit about anxiety disorder for kids. As crippling as it may be for your MiL, I think it’s even tougher on the kids, because they don’t have a “normal” to think back on.

  63. My mother despised the grandfather who lived with them. So she saved those dollars to ensure she would never burden me. I had no grandparents or any local family, and my kids had gparents who lived Europe and my quirky mom 450 miles away. Now everyone visits with the returned expats but it is always in their living room.

    My grandkids are lucky in that everybody lives fairly close by. Their young cousins are expats now, so it is once a year for total family and the other gparents in Maine end up taking long vacations with DILs sib.

    As for me, things worked out well, but both sides put in some effort in the initial years to build rapport. As the poet said in my recent post, a pitcher thirsts for water to carry.

  64. “Speaking of food at the grandparents my kids have traditional food cooked by one grandmother (curries, rice, vegetables with spices). The other grandmother tends to cook things like grilled trout with sautéed vegetables.”

    My mom cooks. My MIL heats up. So my son knows what he’ll get when he’s at home vs. my in laws. My MIL also likes to defy me at every step. One night, DS1 asked for a brownie (he already had a cookie). I said no. She took the brownie and gave it to him, saying “it’s grandma’s house and those are my rules”. DH wasn’t in the room. When I told him, his mouth just hung open. She also likes to tell me that my children aren’t tired at their bedtime. So she keeps them up longer and then gets upset when they are overtired and cranky.

  65. MM- I think my MIL has always really liked television and needed the structure and social aspect of work to stay on the straight and narrow.. I think her hobbies would now be described as television, reading and gambling. Her husband is the opposite, takes a walk rain or shine every day, always learning new things and reading (he takes a book and reads in a restaurant when they go to a casino). He doesn’t want to retire because he honestly loves his job. Also last summer we went to Boston for a day and after walking a mile we had to call a cab because my MIL could not walk anymore (and she’s not terribly overweight, she just does not exercise at all).

    I can’t imagine my parents sitting around watching television all day even if they were retired. My dad would go crazy, he’s out on the golf course, visiting people, reading, etc. whenever he has down time. And my mother has taken up knitting. They have just never been super big television watchers.

  66. MM, lots of retired people are active and interesting, just as many people with jobs are dull and watch lots of TV.

  67. NoB / they are very lucky, and so are we. Both sets go to great efforts to make things enjoyable. My mom plans t 1,000 things to do, and does about a third of them. My in-laws are much more careful, but very thoughtful in their management of activities. And MIL works very diligently to keep her “condition” in check. You can often see the gears turning when something is bothering her but she doesn’t want it to. This makes her a nightmare of a backseat driver, and I’m the only one in the family who can tolerate her as a passenger. DW can’t abide the needless gasps and tensing with bitten lips. We can tease her about it.

  68. My partner and I both had some experience with live-in grand parents. In his case, the house he grew up in was very small, but the barn had an apartment over the top of half of it. One of his grandmothers lived there, but I don’t know if it was paternal or maternal. Either way she seemed to have mainly her own life until she needed care. In my case, my paternal grandmother moved in with us when I was about 5 and just after my maternal grandmother died. Around the time I was born my maternal grandmother relocated to our town, but lived in a continuity of care facility. It was to be close to my mom and some long-time friends who had also relcated to Texas. My mother did not like her MIL living with us, but it was a combination of limited financial resources on my grandmother’s part, my grandmother being less and less willing to care for herself, and the drain on my mother dealing with the 30-40 minute drive each way at least 3 times a week to check on her, take her places, etc. Side note – What I never understood, is if my mother had been willing to go back to work, a part-time job would have paid for my parents to put my grandmother in the same continuity of care facility my other grandmother had been in.

    Now all of my children’s grandparents are dead. His parents lived near SSM and did not travel out of state. The kids saw them a couple of times before they died, but can’t say they “knew” them. My parents had retired in the city I live in to be near me and my aunt (who passed away only a few years after they moved here). My kids spent about a weekend there a month when they were young. They would go to the pool in the housing community, watch tv, and just hang out with them. They would pick them up from time to time in a pinch, but were never our “regular” caregiver. As their health declined, the kids would sometimes stay with them for just one night as that is all any of them could handle. Then, once they moved to the continuity of care facility, visits were less frequent and much shorter.

    If possible, I want to be the grandparent who is around and able to do fun things with them, but I don’t want to be the daily caregiver in lieu of day care or a nanny or a SAHP.

  69. SM – does he have friends he could be with for a couple of hours each day or is he old enough to be camp counselor or take up some type of summer job ? Even volunteering some place may help.
    I know I sound simplistic but just getting him out of the house is perhaps a goal for the summer.

  70. I just thought of this but DS has great grand father’s names on both sides as his middle names and DD has as her middle name a great great grandmother’s name.
    So if y’all turn out to be model grandparents who knows how your names will be passed on.

  71. Louise, your last paragraph to me is on-target. The first is far beyond where we are now, except he is playing basketball at the Y.

  72. I wonder if any of you have thought about it from the other end? If you aren’t seeing much of your parents or ILs, is that something they want too? How about where they end up living as they get older? The reason I am thinking about this is that as my kids start getting ready to leave, I realize that I don’t want to end up elderly and living alone far from my family. It sounds like the worst possible thing. My MIL is elderly and living alone, but most of the extended family is in town, and they are over there every day. My mother was living alone, but was still youngish, had a big social life, and was still working when she passed away. Before that point, I actually had plans to move her up here once she retired. My father was still married, but his wife promptly moved after he died to be with her own kids. And it makes sense to me. I think our society is way too splintered as it is, and elderly people shouldn’t be alone.

  73. My DH grew up in a triple decker with his cousins family on the first floor, his own on the second floor, and the paternal grandmother on the third floor. That was a nice solution. His maternal grandfather, after his wife died, moved to a retirement home for his particular country of origin, near their house. DH remembers going there all the time, and listening to the old guys argue politics in their native language, passing around shots and beer.s

  74. Mooshi, I think about moderately often about the old age I hope to have. I assume the boys will eventually marry; I don’t know if Baby WCE will so I’ve assumed more about DIL’s than a SIL. I hope to be in good health and if I can’t be in good health, I won’t make choices (more cancer treatment, etc.) to prolong my ill health.

    I expect to learn to live mostly alone- I don’t think it’s fair to expect my children to rearrange their lives to accommodate my need for social interaction. I expect to travel to visit rather than move to know them, unless someone enters a field (teaching, medicine) where geographic stability can be expected.

    As far as I can tell, MIL doesn’t desire interaction with us because she gets plenty with her other kids/grandkids. It’s not personal.

  75. I assume the boys will eventually marry; I don’t know if Baby WCE will


  76. My kids don’t really know their grandparents. DH’s parents died young, and my parents weren’t all that interested. They see their one remaining grandmother once a year at Thanksgiving. Now that she’s elderly and in a CCRC in the town where she has always lived and encouraged her children to leave, she’s annoyed that she doesn’t have family around to run errands and buy groceries now that she doesn’t drive. But moving closer to family is completely out of the question in her mind.

    I really want to be the exact opposite of my mom. I’d like to be involved in my imaginary grandkids lives and I always tell my guys when I’m 70 we’re moving near one of them – but that’s easier for us, since we’ve moved eleven times in adulthood and don’t see moving as an insurmountable obstacle.

  77. WCE said “I expect to learn to live mostly alone”
    And you don’t find that depressing? Most of us do have a period alone in our 20’s, but we are new and fresh faced and it seems like a novelty. And we all have the expectation that it will end and we will have a family. When you are older, you no longer have the expectation that things will get better.
    And as for travelling to see your kids, what happens as your mobility gets limited? I saw that with MIL – she isn’t up for the 2 hour car trip down here to visit any more, which she used to do pretty often. And my father really couldn’t fly alone in the last few years of his life, but my sister would accompany him, or we would all go down there.

  78. Same house. I bet Rhett can find better pix, although the idealized residents in this rendering are, ah, interesting. I don’t agree with the tone of the comments, but do find the location odd. It is at the corner of a busy 4-lane road and a state highway that’s probably 6 lanes, and is elevated at the point where it passes the compound. I assume drivers on that road will be able to see over the wall.

  79. HFN, I hope to be involved in my grandkids’ lives too. I’ve always told DS that one day, he will get things from the top shelf for me. It used to make his eyes light up. Then a couple weeks ago while we were cleaning out the garage, he handed something off to me that I absolutely could not hold in that position for a whole minute. He had to come back and help, fast! Made him feel big & strong, and me, not.

  80. Mooshi, honey, you’re borrowing trouble. Your kids haven’t even left yet. You don’t know where things will go. Maybe they’ll all wind up in the same town as you. It ain’t over til it’s over.

  81. SM – it is his vision and it was the same vision that my granddad had. Alas, the individual family units really really wanted to do their own thing and not feel that they were controlled by him.
    Most intergenerational families of this type in the home country have chefs so that a kitchen is shared but the women of the family are not the ones actually doing the cooking.

  82. “I expect to travel to visit rather than move to know them, unless someone enters a field (teaching, medicine) where geographic stability can be expected.”
    The parents of a friend of mine moved three times as their daughter’s family moved around in order to be near the grandkids. When my friend got divorced and was transferred for work an hour away, her parents stayed in the town with the ex-son in law and his new wife, who had the kids in order to keep them in the same school. I think the way families work things out is fascinating and it is nice seeing everyone doing what works best for the kids in this situation.

  83. MM,

    Do those kinds of worst case senarios happen to those who are flexible, congenial and accommodating? It seems more of an issue for those who stubbornly cling to ways of living that are no longer working.

  84. intergenerational families of this type in the home country have chefs so that a kitchen is shared but the women of the family are not the ones actually doing the cooking.

    Louise, yes, that’s what I meant about not squabbling–unless they’re arguing over whose workers’ turn it is. (That last bit is a joke.) I assume there will be a large staff. The comments on the HoTR site suggest that this is being built with inexpensive materials. He apparently has ~$.25 bil So far it’s mostly concrete blocks, like the big bricks for a basement. That’s a typical construction method here. I don’t think they’ve done much of the interior yet. The other things those comments show is how little people have a clue about his plan–they keep talking about resale value, which is the last thing he wants to do.

  85. SM – I understand the compound, wings, interior courtyard etc but that whole faux Taj Mahal construction is a total mish mash and not to my taste. It does remind me of the Queen of Versailles.
    If he had copied one of the real palaces, that building would have been more graceful.

  86. Mooshi, I suppose most of us find the prospect of loneliness, physical and mental decline somewhat depressing. Denver Dad has commented that observing that decline daily is a challenge of his profession. My older Christian friends have assured me that I will find the hope of a new body very encouraging at some point.

    My MIL has been living with her sons temporarily as people switch between/build houses and it seems stressful for her. She is accustomed to having her house just so, and the clutter and mess of children annoys her. I tell myself that when I’m old, I will not care if my pillows and couch/chair arm covers are in place or if my drinking glasses get broken by a careless elementary school dishwasher loaders. My coffee table will host no fragile knickknacks and I will cheerfully cover its corners with foam, but will that really be the case?

    RMS, the bright women I know, especially bright Christian women, are disproportionately single. For men who wish to marry, the prospects never get really bad, but in the church, I’ve never observed the prospects for bright women to be very good and they worsen at a young age, like 25. It isn’t clear to what extent my bright, single non-Christian work female acquaintances are single by choice.

  87. HFN – like you, I want to be the opposite of my mom. She had me when she was 18, and I had my first when I was 26. That made her a grandmother at 44, and she was not ready to be a grandma. On the other hand, she has always been and will always be, the center of her own universe. She wasn’t really that much more interested when my sister had her kids about 10 years later.

    My DH’s parents are on the other end of the spectrum, and are over 25 years older than my parents. (My DH is close to 20 yrs older than me, compounding the older v. younger spread). So, while the sun rises and sets on the grandkids, they have always seemed elderly. They are the same age as my own paternal grandparents. This meant that though they did the occasional babysitting/emergency childcare – which was fantastic – we never once had anyone offer to stay with the kids so we could take a trip with just the two of us. I do want to be the opposite and have been known to tell my boys to pick somewhere great if they relocate because I just might follow them there!

    My mother (center of her universe) has of course declared that she never wants to move into a nursing home or any assisted living facility, without regard to what kind of impact that might have on anyone else. I have spent much of my life being the adult in the relationship with her, and since she’s so young, I – sometimes honestly – fear that I will still be taking care of her when I’m 70.

  88. Louise, I don’t know the backgrounds of the people he hired to design it (seen in the video), but my guess is they don’t have as much familiarity with that style of architecture as they do with local construction codes. The things he’s been involved in that I know of–the conservatory downtown, the Global Studies Institute at USF, and the Wyndham Resort–are not known for architecture, sculpture, or creation of beautiful spaces. He wants something unique, but he might not care about stylistic integrity.

  89. Fred, thanks so much for sharing so much of your son’s journey, especially the bumpier parts. It was nice to hear about how you reacted and encouraged and dealt with disappointment without giving up. It can be easy to expect our kids to take the path we have paved in front of them, and frustrating when they don’t. It’s helpful to see that there are lots of routes to independence.

  90. RMS, the bright women I know, especially bright Christian women, are disproportionately single.

    Well, cheer up! Maybe she’ll be dopey, or a humanities major, or something. :-)

  91. fear that I will still be taking care of her when I’m 70.

    Sunshine, take a word of wisdom from someone who’s been there. You don’t HAVE to do what she wants. She’s never going to love you the way you want anyway. I had my mom in my home for the longest 19 months of my life. When I finally shoved her into assisted living, she martyred it for about three weeks, then loved it.

    It’s your life. You owe her not to let her die in the gutter, but you don’t have to do it all her way. Again: She’s never going to love you the way you want anyway.

  92. RMS, I was talking to my German literature/statistics friend today and she observed that daycare has given her daughter (college age) better social skills than my friend has, so there’s hope. (I like humanities better than math/science, just didn’t think I was good enough to make a living at it.)

    I thought about you during that conversation because my friend’s Dad did dissertations in math and philosophy, although he became a math professor. He did two dissertations in two fields because he really enjoyed playing on the college baseball team.

  93. FWIW, WCE, I know lots of married Christian millennial women.

  94. WCE – You found Mr WCE, who hunts his family’s food, can take apart an engine, is smart and handsome and in great shape. He could certainly have had his pick of godly young wives who would have been submissive to him, kept an immaculate house, had perfectly behaved children (well, I joke here), been unquestioning pillars of the church. And he chose YOU!

  95. My coffee table will host no fragile knickknacks and I will cheerfully cover its corners with foam, but will that really be the case?

    That’s not you now is it? You seem like an eminently sensible realist, I can’t really imagine you acting like RMS or Sunshine’s mom.

  96. WCE – I am always struck by how different your anecdotes are from my experience. FWIW, all my college friends (all of whom are bright and many of whom are religious) are married with kids.

  97. You seem like an eminently sensible realist, I can’t really imagine you acting like RMS or Sunshine’s mom.

    Hey! I hope you mean “like RMS’s or Sunshine’s moms”. I gots no knicknacks.

  98. WCE said ” She is accustomed to having her house just so, and the clutter and mess of children annoys her.”

    That is one of my biggest fears! I never want to get like that. I like the noise and clutter and mess, even when I am nagging the kids to pick up.

  99. I’m very skilled at breaking all my own crap. Anything valuable that I might own is being managed by TIAA-CREF.

  100. Thanks, Meme and RMS. (Queue “Wonder of Wonders” from Fiddler on the Roof) I hope all my kids can marry if they wish to.

  101. Speaking of which (breaking crap), weekend after next I am hosting friends for Denver Comic Con. A couple, their two rambunctious daughters (8 and 4, I think) and the wife’s brother, whom she hasn’t seen in 15 years “but really needs to catch up with”. Which is fine, though I find it bizarre that after 15 years the only way to catch up is at my house, but it’s all fine, that’s what we have guest rooms for. And I like their daughters, and surveying the house, I can’t see what they could break that I would actually care about.

  102. MM WCE,

    Since you’re (AFAIK) not knickknack people now, why do you think you’ll turn into one?

  103. And just to be entirely fair to my crazy-ass mom, she didn’t care about knickknacks. She knew when she had kids that anything she cared about would be broken. She was right.

  104. “Sunshine, take a word of wisdom from someone who’s been there. You don’t HAVE to do what she wants.”

    RMS, does that mean I really DON’T have to drive 6 hours one way every time mom says she’s running out of coffee and needs someone to go to the grocery store? (and of course, there are a million reason why she can’t use her ample resources to hire a driving/shopping service, or purchase her items in the little shop in her CCRC, or let me ship something from Amazon?) I don’t usually make the trip, but I feel guilty about it all. the. time.

  105. RMS, it’s a shame that floo powder isn’t real or I could send you some testers. I’ve read your posts wondering what to do with your basement during the long rainy season and wished floo powder were real.

  106. RMS, does that mean I really DON’T have to drive 6 hours one way every time mom says she’s running out of coffee and needs someone to go to the grocery store? (and of course, there are a million reason why she can’t use her ample resources to hire a driving/shopping service, or purchase her items in the little shop in her CCRC, or let me ship something from Amazon?) I don’t usually make the trip, but I feel guilty about it all. the. time.

    Oh. My. God. You have my mother! I’m so very sorry. And right. You don’t have to. Just like I didn’t have to FLY HOME TO CALIFORNIA to take my millionaire mother to a routine doctor’s appointment.

    This is where you stop making excuses, and just say, “I’m so very sorry Mama, it will be terrible not to have coffee.” Crying helps. Be vewy vewy sad. “It must be terrible not to have coffee. How awful”. Repeat and repeat as needed.

  107. HFN — Daughter guilt is a very powerful feeling. I never had any mommy guilt when I was raising my small children, but boy did I have a lot of daughter guilt in the last years of my mother’s life. You have to resist it, though. Caring for an elderly parent through a long and difficult decline can potentially destroy you, your marriage, and/or your relationships with your kids. More often than not, I found that I had to put the daughter guilt aside, and put the needs of myself and my own nuclear family before my mother. It was what I needed to do to survive that stage of my life. Good luck; what you’re going through is really, really hard.

  108. HFN – Right before the end years, I used to fly down to Maryland from Boston every other weekend. I practically had my own space in the Hertz lot at BWI. My 26 year old daughter had decided to move to DC area in part to be near her grandmother, and the needs became so heavy that I had to spell her. Mom was failing mentally but hiding it well from us, and she wasn’t intentionally selfish. But even when she was capable of managing details and spending her ample funds, she as a child of the depression couldn’t imagine using a car service or hiring someone to take her grocery shopping. When the volunteers couldn’t do it any more, her failings became apparent and I had to move her up to be near me.

  109. Floo powder, ha!
    And this is why the “mattress topper” question of a few days ago. I think we’re going to stick the brother-in-law in the basement with the rock-hard futon. The two little girls can share one room, and the parents can share the other room. DH has been saying “Run, save yourself”, and I would, but there’s my 20-year-old cat to consider. So I guess we’ll all be there.

  110. Caring for an elderly parent through a long and difficult decline can potentially destroy you, your marriage, and/or your relationships with your kids.

    This, this, this.

    I didn’t throw Mom into assisted living until DH said, “You’re losing your mind, drinking too much, and you’ve gained 20 pounds*” You can’t sacrifice the living to the annoying.

    *He was actually being concerned about my health, not about having a fat wife.

  111. RMS, NOB and Meme, thank you – I appreciate the encouragement. Guilt is a rough emotion (is it an emotion? I don’t even know!) and I often lose perspective. I’ll return to your comments when I’m getting sucked into it.

  112. “Sunshine, take a word of wisdom from someone who’s been there. You don’t HAVE to do what she wants.”

    RMS, thanks for this. You’re right, anything I do will never be enough unless she was also the center of MY universe. I do think I am strong enough to resist any demands that she move into my house, though she does occasionally comment that my basement will be just perfect for her. Less than a year ago, she called late one night when she was fighting with her DH (married 20 years) and said “DH said I should call and see if I can move in with you”. Uh, no. Not now, not ever. I said “no, that doesn’t solve anything. You guys have to figure this out.” This is what I mean about being the adult with her.

    Someone said recently on here (I think it was RMS), “I don’t worry about any problem I can throw money at to make go away.” That is freedom – and is exactly what I was thinking when she called that night…. no way in hell are you moving in, I’ll rent an apartment for you if I have to!

  113. “She’s never going to love you the way you want anyway. ”
    I feel lucky to have figured this out! Honestly, it might sound sad, but what it really means is dropping a whole load of weight. Boundaries are still difficult, but figuring out that we won’t be any closer if let her ignore them makes it so much easier to deal with intrusive comments, questions, and behavior. I’ve just learned in the last couple of years to shrug them off. This might just be another way of saying what NoB said, but honestly, it is SO MUCH BETTER.

    WCE has mentioned before that she mommy-tracked her career. I presume that when she says her daughter won’t marry, it’s because she doesn’t see how it’s possible to combine striving for professional success with Christian wifely and parental duties. When I was growing up, I did not have an example of how to center my profession and have kids and, as I mentioned above, my parents certainly never were able to catch on to what my priorities were and how I needed to do things to be a parent with anything more than an undemanding, boring job. This blog has many examples of women working hard and achieving professional success while being married and raising children. Perhaps some of those relationships don’t fit her “godly” criteria.

    HFN, Whole Foods is giving free delivery and $15 off first orders through tomorrow. Sign your mom up! And take a look at Love and Logic too. It’s supposedly a parenting system, but I bet it’d work with your mom. They emphasize empathy when the kid doesn’t get their way, and then leading them to figure out a solution to their own problems.

    Rocky, all those lovely playthings and children’s furniture and meatballs, and you’re not going to go.

  114. Saac, my family/career choices were made with the goals of having time to spend with the children and not being unemployable/completely broke if the shit ever hits the fan in my life. There are Christians who make different family/career choices with different sets of constraints, both easier and more challenging. I don’t consider my set of choices more or less good or godly.

    I’ll let you know in a quarter century how things work out. :)

  115. MM said “I realize that I don’t want to end up elderly and living alone far from my family. It sounds like the worst possible thing”

    This is my worry for my mom right now. My siblings and I flew to my parents’ house this weekend to get caught up on what is going on with my dad (a rare-ish degenerative disease that will eventually land him in a wheelchair), and what they are thinking the future holds, how we fit into, if financial help will be needed, etc. Right now they are in the city we grew up with no family there, but some friends (who are older and may or may not outlive my parents). The amusing/annoying thing is that when each of us discussed things with my mom alone, we each got a different answer. My siblings are pushing for my parents to move back east and be with her twin and her husband. I would like to see them come to a continuous care facility in Houston where my family can be of some help and companionship, and my dad clearly thinks they have settled on a plan to move to the continuous care facility they visited in the city they currently live in. So – no more clarity than we had prior to this weekend

    They won’t move in with any of us, but my mom would very much like to be near family if they are going to leave their house. The medical care is likely to be better either back east or here, just because in a larger city they are more likely to find a doctor who has seen this before. I get along great with both my parents, and call them daily to check in, even if it is just a 5-minute conversation. I would love to have them near us, particularly because the reduced mobility is shrinking their world very quickly. I don’t want them to become hermits. It would be great for my kids to know them better, as well.

    If we are retired, I will be where my grandkids are. Now that mine are grown, I’ve finally figured everything out – I want another shot!

  116. Interesting responses from everyone.

    We don’t have any grandparents local. My mom was the ultimate “I just want to spoil the crap out of my grandchildren” grandmother. She lived in South Carolina but she would drop everything if my brother or I ever asked her to come out to help out. She died about 10 years and I wish she could have been around to see the kids grow up. She had her flaws, and there was no we could every had her live with us.

    My dad likes to be the fun grandpa. (He and my mom were divorced). I could see having him live with us if it ever came down to it, but I doubt that it will. He’s relatively close in Arizona, but he still travels quite a bit so we only see him every few months.

    My in-laws live in Florida and that is a good distance. I literally threw them out when they were visiting one time when the kids were really little. They didn’t get the concept that we didn’t like them telling us how to be parents, especially because DW was not a fan of their parenting (mainly FIL’s). We got into a big fight and I finally said “if you don’t like it, you can leave”, and they left. MIL realized fairly quickly if she wanted a relationship with DW and the kids, she needed to respect boundaries. FIL has some legitimate psych issues, and took longer to come around. We have good relationship with them now, but once a year visits (sometimes less frequent) are a good number. There’s no way they would ever live with us, if it came to that, they would live with SIL. She is under FIL’s thumb, and it’s actually kind of scary how similar she is to him in a lot of ways.

    In general, I think a good grandparent-grandchild relationship is great for everyone.

  117. Becky, I’m sorry you’re dealing with that. I have quite a few patients who live in nursing homes or assisted livings who don’t have family nearby, but the family is very involved. I don’t understand why the families don’t try to move them closer to them. Once you’re into some sort of long-term care situation, it seems to make much more sense to be near family.

    I will say that I also have a lot of patients who did relocate from other states to be near their families.

  118. I’ll add that my dad was recently diagnosed with early-stage parkinson’s, which will likely result in him need significant in-home care or moving into a facility at some point down the road. If/when that time comes, I hope to have him either move here or back east near my brother. It just makes sense to be near family.

  119. “I don’t understand why the families don’t try to move them closer to them.”
    Just remember it is entirely possible the family has tried for years to persuade the parent to move and has been told “that’s impossible. You should move here.”

    SM, that’s an interesting thought about Love and Logic. So many parenting concepts are coming back into play at this stage. I’m struggling now with how to respond to all the dining room drama of who can sit at what table and who’s not speaking to whom. Having never had any daughters, I am ill equipped to know what to do. I keep wanting to say, “you just need other friends. The cool kids table is too stressful.” I know that wouldn’t be helpful.

  120. Becky said “but my mom would very much like to be near family if they are going to leave their house. ”
    So what is stopping this? You seem to be in agreement. Having older parents nearby solves a lot of problems, both for the parent and the adult child. When my maternal grandfather died, my mother moved her mother up to be nearby – my grandmother went first to an apartment and then to an assisted living facility. Even though they did not get along all that well, it was clearly better for both. My mother was working and couldn’t take the time to keep travelling to help her mother, who was a plane ride away.

  121. Reading these comments makes me wonder what my kids will be complaining about in the years to come . . .

  122. “Reading these comments makes me wonder what my kids will be complaining about in the years to come . . .”
    Lets just all agree right now it will NOT be “why did mom and dad have to start collecting Hummels?”

  123. Moving elderly parents to live closer to their children is great if those children are staying put, but if they don’t, then the parents have to move again. We could be in this position in a few years — if DH retires (ha) and we want to move closer to our own kids and grandchildren, we would have to relocate my dad if he is still alive. I know a lot of folks in their 60’s or even 70’s who consider relocating on retirement or with a job change but who have also have elderly parents to consider.

    Some older friends who relocated to this area for retirement because four of their daughters were living in Chicago have lamented that two of those daughters have moved with their families to the west coast. They still have two left in Chicago, but they had counted on all of their adult children being “settled” when they made the decision to come here.

  124. “why did mom and dad have to start collecting Hummels?”

    At this point we have no knicknacks of any value. Everything can go right into the dumpster.

  125. “Caring for an elderly parent through a long and difficult decline can potentially destroy you, your marriage, and/or your relationships with your kids.”

    This + 100!

    It is now a year after my mom passed, two years after my dad, and 3 months after my partner found out he’d had a heart attack and has had a stint put in. I still have some very rocky days just handling me and my focus on what needs to be done.

    My partner and I are still in a rocky place as he was not supportive during the times I most needed emotional support or physical assistance. Even though he doesn’t share much, his heart issues are heading down a similar path as my parents. He is a bit in denial and is willing to only be partially compliant with doctors orders. While we were waiting on the final diagnosis, I was in a tail spin realizing I was not in place emotionally where I could take on significant caregiving at this point.

    On the positive side, my relationship with my kids is bouncing back. Part of that is due to the fact that I have time to spend with them and I am not always sandwiching it in between caregiving activities.

  126. Two of my grandparents died of “old age”. They were quite healthy till the last six months of their lives.
    One of my grandfathers had Parkinson and he should have been in a nursing home, but there are no adequate care homes in the home country nor was it the done thing to put seniors in nursing homes.
    So, in comment to Mooshi – it really depends on the situation.
    It will be an interesting situation with the inlaws. I definitely think the other sons should be involved and I am not prepared to deliver nursing home level of care. It is not like the home country where we had family nearby and my grandparents were visited by kids and grandkids, there were paid aides plus the family was prepared to do spells of actual care giving.

  127. My mom & step dad are across the country from us and my sister lives ~45min from them. In fact, my niece (26), their granddaughter, lives in the in-law apartment on their property so although they really don’t need help yet (mom is 83, he is 91 tomorrow), there is someone to check on them. No way they’d ever move here live near/with us. My relationship with them is good and although my mom has her wistful moments about being able to see me more often, it’s not the way life has worked out.

    ILs are a ~6hr drive away, and DW’s youngest sister lives very close to them. She and her husband have been looking for a ranch where ILs could move to in their current town for 2-3 years and nothing makes the cut. But maybe they’ll (he) will be more open to the available options now that he broke his leg (recovering well) and his mobility will be even more limited than before. I don’t think a CCRC will even be acceptable, but it would be good for my MIL just for the social aspect of being around lots of same-aged people. Over the past ~5yrs she’s become more isolated from her friends as she spends more time taking care of FIL. Mentally, they’re all there, just more curmudgeonly with each passing year.

    Us? Well I think there’s a very low probability any of our kids will permanently settle here post college/grad school. Again, the smallish, no/low-growth local economy thing. Maybe the one who wants to be a doctor, if that comes to pass, could end up here because he’s the one with the strongest group of friends/connections in this community. We will definitely move south when I retire in 5-10 years. Shorter winters, nearer at least 1 kid.

  128. My mom died before I had kids, but she was a kick ass grandma to my sister’s kids. My dad is an awesome grandpa. He does an amazing job of developing relationships with his kids and grandkids as they age. All of us kids and grandkids are close to him. My dad wasn’t as comfortable helping when the kids were babies, but he also was very aware of trying to not intrude or to provide unasked for advice to the point where I’m almost begging for his opinion or for him to be around. My dad is 74 and recently I’ve noticed he is starting to slow down. I wish we had our kids 10 years ago because it is harder for my dad to play baseball and do other physical things with the kids.

    My dad’s day typically involves breakfast or lunch with friends, working on his friend’s high tech start up, and seeing one of his grandkids play a game. He is very active and engaged and makes retirement look fun. All of us kids chose to live near our parents because we like them so much. My concern with my dad when he gets older is That he won’t ask for enough help.

    My in-laws are nice enough people. They parent and grandparent well enough when the kids are little but struggle to develop relationships as kids age.

  129. Honestly, I think adult children need to be including these considerations in their planning too. We Totebaggers tend to shield our kids “the world is your oyster, go anywhere you want”, and then suddenly we have the situation of all the kids living on the other side of the country from us. Like it or not, kids are the most significant providers of care for the elderly, and that is likely to increase as our safety net collapses. I have a friend right now who decided to move to California with her husband and kids, leaving behind her mother who was getting on in years. The other sister moved to another country in the meantime. Now, 3 years later, elderly mom is starting to have semi-serious health crises, and since she now has no family nearby, my friend and her sister have to charge in from California and overseas every month or two. The obvious solution would be for the elderly mom to move to California, but since they live in San Francisco, they can’t figure out how to swing it financially. There was really no good reason for them to have moved – they had good jobs here -but they just wanted to experience San Francisco. I personally think they should have deferred that dream, or else planned the finances for moving mom.

    In contrast, DH’s sister, a top exec, made her final career choices based on staying in her town because she knew her mother as well as her MIL were getting older and would need some care. In DH’s family, there is always the expectation that family members will take care of each other.

    I think we should be talking more to our kids as they turn into adults about this stuff.

  130. I forgot about the grandparenting (relationship) part. Distance clearly plays a factor, but so does personality. My kids are much closer to my ILs than to my folks. Part of it is DW’s family has a beach place where we go as a family one week each summer so they see my ILs then. Plus, when growing up DW would take them to her parents’ place for a visit e.g. for the entire Easter week break from school. Re my folks, they used to visit ~1x/yr for a few days, but since he had a few now-resolved health issues some years back, they cut back to coming here for big events like HS graduations. And we haven’t been there as a family in a long time…and my mom gets it.

    My ILs, especially MIL, have a much better day-to-day relationship with my kids, but they are both so much more focused on the grandkids who live near them (a la WCE) that whenever DW mentions something about our kids, MILs wants to say something about their cousins. Oh, the cousins are very close since only 5 years separate the 6 of them. My mom is not that social and does not really buy into social chat and my step dad tries to hard/tries to make everything funny and that gets tiring.

  131. Neither of my BILs was interested in moving closer when they had the chance. We lived in a city with good job potential for their fields and was a good place to get a start.
    One said that the weather was too cold but once he got married he moved almost right away to his wife’s hometown which had a similar climate.

  132. I think if you are going to move nearer your kids due to elder care issues, you should do it sooner rather than later. You have the opportunity to build friendships in and ties to the community so that you have relationships with people outside of your immediate family.

    My partner did very little caregiving for his parents though he did help financially. Initially, thought it was mainly because he was half way accross the country. But, I am not sure what he would have done even if he had lived closer or had the money/flexibility to physcially be there more often. He and his sister (who did the caregiving) haven’t gotten along since they were in high school, but even with their parents gone, they rarely communicate.

  133. I think we should be talking more to our kids as they turn into adults about this stuff.

    You’re right that that would be very counter to the current culture. It also might not help, since people have to move for work. My mom was very big on my not marrying or having kids and staying nearby so I could take care of her, but I got married and left anyway, because fuck that.

  134. Agree with MM about talking to our kids, but it’d be pretty hypocritical of us to consider/think/ask our kids to settle around here since neither of us stuck around where we grew up past age ~24. If it happens that they decide to live here that’s ok too.

  135. RMS – Talking to them about who is POA, MPOA, what resources they have to pay for caregiving, their preferences on moving, etc. are very helpful discussions to have. But, you are right, drawing the boundaries for what you can and are willing to do is important and should not be based purely on what they want.

    For example, my dad wanted to stay in their home longer and just have caregivers come in. However, it would have been me who was working with the provider, dealing with the no-shows, etc. I said that was too much for me given I worked full-time and had late ES/MS age kids. Plus, I knew he’d get mad and fire them and then I’d have to be scrounging for another service/caregiver.

  136. “I think if you are going to move nearer your kids due to elder care issues, you should do it sooner rather than later. You have the opportunity to build friendships in and ties to the community so that you have relationships with people outside of your immediate family.”

    This is key. My parents live a few blocks from my sister in our hometown, and stay busy with friends, community college classes, gym, etc. My ILs recently moved here, and have not made the effort to make friends or get out into the community. There is a big difference in happiness and quality of life.

  137. Louise, at some time you will have to put your foot down and force people to consider your wants and needs. I am having to do the same thing here, where DH and MIL both expect MIL to move in with us when FIL dies. I refuse, and it will be a future battle because nobody believes my refusal.

  138. Houston – I agree. Things tend to get nasty with these types of issues. Right now, I have my kids to consider and don’t want their childhood to be clouded with nastiness.

  139. I don’t think kids should need to stick around in the hometown, no. I just think that as they consider moving, they need to keep this in mind. When you are in your 20’s you don’t think about it, but it creeps up. I had moved away myself, and my parents always seemed young and healthy, but in the last year before my mother passed away, I had started to plan, even though she was still healthy and seemed young and active at that time

  140. “but it’d be pretty hypocritical of us to consider/think/ask our kids to settle around here since neither of us stuck around where we grew up past age ~24.”


    DH and I left our hometown to follow our ambitions. When we were still in DC, it was reasonable to assume that at least one of our kids would stick around, but not now. And I never want my kids to turn down an attractive opportunity because they feel responsible for us.

  141. But it is likely they will end up feeling responsible for you, and I think that is going to be more and more the case heading into the future. No amount of financial planning on your part will change the moment when you are hospitalized or start having chronic serious health issues. Your kids will be the one making all the trips. Perhaps it is my age, because I am seeing many of my friends in this situation now. It is really difficult, when you have taken that great job opportunity that took you across the country, but now you are flying back once a month.

  142. Your kids will be the one making all the trips.

    I believe Meme has mentioned the value of hiring a senior care manager to take care of most (all?) of that.

  143. I suggest we form a Totebag old age collective. We can have a book club, Netflix groups, cultural fields trips…

  144. I have observed colleagues manage the flying back ~once/month. Especially if your own children are beyond the tween years, it seems doable if not desirable. The choice also depends on if your parent has a chronic disease that requires ongoing care (say, Parkinson’s) or a cancer that kills within months. There is also the possibility of phoning in to doctor appointments, which is what my brother (who got along best with my mom) did when my mom was sick.

    I concur with Denver Dad that moving for nursing home care is sensible, but for the years prior to that, I don’t think constraining your career by living near one parent/set of parents is worthwhile. Like Fred, I don’t expect any of my kids to stay in the immediate vicinity.

    Admittedly one reason that I was happy about my Dad’s remarriage is that my stepmom has two responsible, local daughters, which means probably none of my siblings will ever get called when they’re out of coffee.

  145. I suggest we form a Totebag old age collective. We can have a book club, Netflix groups, cultural fields trips…

    I’m in.

  146. “I believe Meme has mentioned the value of hiring a senior care manager to take care of most (all?) of that.”
    Honestly, I have never heard of any of my friends doing this, so perhaps it is either very expensive, hard to find, or perhaps just not that good?

    And seriously, when your mom is in the hospital and her blood counts keep dropping and no one can figure out why, are you going to rely on a case manager to prod the doctors?

  147. Honestly, I have never heard of any of my friends doing this, so perhaps it is either very expensive, hard to find, or perhaps just not that good?

    I think it’s like hiring a night nurse for a newborn. It’s awesome but many folks would think it’s not something “people like us” do.

  148. And seriously, when your mom is in the hospital and her blood counts keep dropping and no one can figure out why, are you going to rely on a case manager to prod the doctors?

    Also we’re talking about us. Much like WCE, I don’t want a lot of effort going into prolonging the inevitable. There is a lot to be said for checking out early.

  149. Well, since I have no children, I’m going to have to count on care managers. Or else just die, which as Rhett points out, isn’t the worst option. Honestly, Mooshi, what do you think people do when they don’t have kids or they have detached and uninterested kids? I feel like you’re working yourself into a huge panic.

  150. Rhett, I don’t think you realize – you don’t get that much control. And it is never clear. The example I posted above, of the mom in the hospital with the mysterious blood readings, happened recently to the mom of a friend of mine. The mom had been older with some health problems, but not ready to check out at all when this happened. Luckilly my friend only lived about 40 minutes away, but she had to take time off work because the mom was in for about 2 weeks. Mom is home now, but there is a sense that more of this will happen.

    My FIL had a number of hospitalizations and stays in rehab because of blood clots in the 10 years before he died. He wasn’t ready to check out, and had lots of good years with all his grandkids. And luckily MIL and the SILs were there. But we still had a number of emergency runs up during those years

  151. I know this is a constant theme here, that doctors and hospitals can’t do their jobs without some non-medical professional in the room to prod them constantly. However, from where I sit, many people have fruitful health care interactions without a Totebagger to supervise.

  152. RMS, my sister who has no kids is already worried. Recently she had an accident and damaged her knee pretty badly, and at first they thought she would need surgery. The doctor told her she would need assistance, and she suddenly realized: dang it, I know NOBODY local to help me. She lives in an area where people don’t do case managers – not a UMC area by any stretch – and everyone relies on local family.


    Jenny Pasternak, an ICU nurse, was “very worried” about her shift tonight. “I have been working as a nurse for 14 years and every day I come to work clueless, just faking it,” Jenny said. “It was such a relief tonight because as soon as I entered the room, I was directed on nursing care by a well-informed family member in the room.”

  154. Ada, sorry, but having been through hospitalizations for 3 parent/parent-in=laws, and a very serious and lengthy kid illness, I very much disagree with you. I would never leave a loved one alone in a hospital, ever. Sometimes, I think doctors don’t see the whole picture of the hospital experience, at least not from the patient pov.

    Whenever my FIL was hospitalized, my MIL, a lifelong nurse, stayed with him most all of the time. She said she knew too much to just leave him there.

  155. Ada, I hate to tell you this, but on a couple of occasions I had to remind nurses to use sterile practice when doing a Broviac dressing change.

  156. One of the things I noticed at MSKCC in particular was that they expected a parent to be around most of the time. WHich was nice because they gave us a level of respect, but also bad because it was clear they expected us parents to clean up the puke at 3am!

  157. As Scarlett said earlier, in my case we won the geographic lottery. It is more likely than not that at least one child will be local and if not, DC and Santa Cruz are attractive relocation sites for me. Having more than one or two kids at a young age has costs, but the benefits over a lifetime are huge as well. I am not advising girls to follow that path, but it can work out nicely. And Mooshi, I would be horrified if one of my kids sacrificed an opportunity on the off chance that one of the parental units might need lots of care down the road. What I see more than footloose children leaving mom alone is the older generation relocating to retirement meccas, having little to do with the scattered grandkids, and then declining in an inconvenient location.

    WCEs point about a second wife certainly holds true for my husband, who is the sort of patient who nods sweetly for the medical professionals (he prefers females, btw) and does not take seriously the instructions. He would be dead already without a live in competent companion. His son just turned 30 and not in caregiving mode. However, I set up my financial affairs so that he gets relocated to assisted living 30 days after my death or incapacity. He is NOT my kids responsibility.

  158. “the #1jerk is out, but will never leave–his stocks still give him big voting power”

    I think this is good on both fronts. He is a jerk and needs to leave. However, he founded and built the company and deserves a say in future decisions (within reason).

  159. It’s not usually possible for a family member to be camped out 24/7 at the hospital with an adult patient, but my experience is similar to Mooshie’s. Hospital patients need advocates. There is a huge range of staff competency, sadly, and the squeaky wheel gets the grease.

    Our experience with a geriatric care manager was very positive with MIL even though other family members balked at the cost and ended up terminating the arrangement after a few months. It was amazing how much easier it was for MIL to accept unwelcome news (“you can’t go home yet”) when it came from an outside professional. But also amazing how much some of DH’s sibs need to be martyrs.

  160. “I think it’s like hiring a night nurse for a newborn. It’s awesome but many folks would think it’s not something “people like us” do.”

    Umm, we did. Very common in the multiples community.

    Ada – my cousin is a nurse and is constantly posting Gomer blog stuff on FB. It’s hysterical.

  161. The disconnect between provider experience and patient experience is always striking.

  162. I would never leave a loved one alone in a hospital, ever.

    I’ve had very good luck so I don’t have the same fears.

  163. Fred, glad to hear your FiL is healing well. Is he actually doing the exercises?

    “All of us kids chose to live near our parents because we like them so much.”
    That also requires career decisions. Some fields make it difficult to decide where you want to live, especially if you want to be in a specific rural area.

    “Houston on June 21, 2017 at 10:03 am said:
    I suggest we form a Totebag old age collective. We can have a book club, Netflix groups, cultural fields trips…”
    Hahaha! The group is aging. Remember when the joke used to be that we were all going to get together for a massive party IRL?

    We have a couple chapters between now and then, but I already think about my relationship with my son when he’s an adult and when I’m old. Right now, he needs to spread his wings and become less attached to me. I would probably be happy to move close to him. I hope I can be involved with his kids, and that we can find a way for him to see me and help me out when I’m at that stage, but I really want him to have a happy family life with his spouse and kids. I can’t picture him choosing someone who can’t stand the sight of me, but I will need to be careful to put their relationship first.

  164. Ada, even in old age with its chronic conditions and resultant complicated treatment regimes? There are some doctors my dad goes to on his own, but even then my mom has him take along written questions and tell her exactly what was said immediately afterwards. She is also getting older, and she (and Meme and Atlanta Mom and all of us) will need someone else to take it over some day, and will probably require help herself very soon thereafter. Their health care is all in the town/at the hospital where my dad practiced and they have relationships with all their providers. This is becoming a big issue as they decide where to spend their final years. Their Florida retirement community provides as many more services than the rural town similar to Mooshi’s sister’s as you might think, but starting all over with new doctors is intimidating, even to an MD and an RN.

    I think of my dad’s patients who skipped over all explanations and just said “you’re the doc!” How would they be able to deal with the many different treatments, or know what needs to be reported to whom, if they go on their own? It isn’t just a question of understanding. There also seems to be a lot of uncertainty about what physical problems or questions are worth bringing up, compounded by the thoughts that it isn’t that bad/old age just has its pains/this makes me sound foolish/I don’t want to take their time/it doesn’t matter.

  165. Fred, with all your commitment to working out, I’m sorry your wife hasn’t caught the bug. Could a carefully-placed comment about her father maybe get the gears turning about her own condition?

  166. Completely unrelated: I’ve started telling patients, “That’s the worst ____ I’ve ever seen!” “You’re lucky that you came in now; if you’d waited you would have likely died!” and “I never thought of that, we could have never gotten to the bottom of this without your help.” These do not need to be actually true; they help my press-ganey scores regardless (Press Ganey is the medical equivalent of Rate My Professor.)

  167. Saac – well no, not really, according to DW who was with him for a couple of weeks till Sunday. The doctors/therapists want him actually walking the halls. It can be slowly and with a walker for support, but the point is to actually walk as upright as possible, putting as little weight as possible on his arms, all the way down the hall and then back. It’s ok to stop and just stand for 10sec-a minute. But he’s so out of shape (1) from not being able to walk for the past 3 months and (2) because he really hasn’t done anything material of a physical nature for years, that he can only go about 10 steps before he’s looking to sit down in the wheelchair that’s right behind him. Once they let him sit “for just a minute” he starts talking and the minute turns into 5…and he’s supposed to do this ~5x /day. Ain’t happening.

    The perhaps not so slow decline has begun.

  168. Saac II – I was actually thinking just that “carefully-placed comment about her father?” last night as I was walking to my car from the gym. It might be ok-received. He (FIL) even admitted to MIL a few weeks after the event that he was sorry he never listened to her about eating better / less and actually doing the post op therapy or actually walking after his knee replacements.

  169. @ Ada – many years ago (20+) my job was to analyze those PG scores for the hospitals. Reading the comments was like settling in to read People Magazine.

  170. “You’re lucky that you came in now; if you’d waited you would have likely died!”

    LOL ! I will remember that one, if I hear it from another doc.

  171. “I never thought of that, we could have never gotten to the bottom of this without your help.”

    You say this with a straight face? I could not.

  172. I’ve never heard of PG scores. Sounds like anything else–reading people’s reasons for giving x points tells more than just seeing the number. I’m about to plunge into finding a couple docs for us here, and am not looking forward to it.

    Fred, I’m sorry to hear that! I hope he translates his woulda/coulda/shoulda into “must do now” but I know that’s easier said than done. The key with the comment to your wife, I think, is not repeating.

  173. Quote from a comment on NY Times article on the characteristics of the dying, from a man who is 99.

    “He told me this on father’s day about life (he still retains his humor):

    Life is like climbing a mountain, the scenery changes, the path gets harder, rockier, steeper and narrower as you go. Friends and family start dropping off, falling away. Yet, if you take time, you can look out and see views and understand things you never could see before. However, all you can do by then on those great heights is to give advice to those below: tell younger people the lay of the land, tell them you see what they are facing and how to get around it … but way up there in the whipping wind, no one can hear you anymore.”

  174. Fred, could you perhaps suggest to your FIL that he express his regrets about not exercising/eating right to your DW?

  175. “I suggest we form a Totebag old age collective. We can have a book club, Netflix groups, cultural fields trips…”

    I certainly hope we’re at least continuing our online community then. I can see it, or similar online communities, being even more important to many of us as it becomes more difficult to physically get out and connect with others.

  176. Finn – he’s done that; unfortunately it comes off rather than a learn from my experiences / concern for others around her, as a parental admonishment/nag. And since DW isn’t (yet) motivated to take action, the concern falls on deaf ears.

  177. Fred, would she benefit from weight-loss surgery? (I’m kind of reading between the lines here. Please don’t be offended; remember I’ve never seen her. Maybe she’s a size 2.)

  178. Rocky – no offense, you have to add another digit after the 2. The answer is yes. Her youngest sister (6 yr difference) had that done ~5(?) yrs ago, but before that she had become self motivated and despite going to the gym, watching what she ate, improving overall diet was unhappy with the results, the way she looked & felt. As she admits, she’ll never be thin, but she’s much lighter, feels a lot better and remains motivated. DW is not there (yet, as I continue to say).

  179. I take back what I said about “a well-placed comment”. Sounds like she’s got it all around her.

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