Hoping for Multigenerational Proximity Trends
My parents lived in close proximity to their grandparents. But when I was growing up, seeing Mom Mom and Pop Pop or visiting with Granny meant an hour in the car. I could not hop on a bike for the intergenerational intervention of a grandparent who would always take my side. And when I was a teen, we moved another 600 miles further away.
Since travel was always associated with seeing relatives, I never missed what I never had. Or did I? Our family has always been closely knit on both sides, so family gatherings were a treat. My cousins were more like siblings. But as the years passed, the distance widened.
But then it shrank. Not physically, but thanks to technology, the distance no longer seems so cumbersome. At any time, I can text, message, Skype, Facetime or Google chat with any and everyone. Even so, it’s really not quite the same.
That was one of the reasons why having Mom move in when Dad passed away was an opportunity we could not pass up. We had to sell a couple of houses and buy a bigger one to accommodate the arrangement, but it was all well worth the effort. And we never regretted having three generations under one roof. We’ve had our ups and downs, but I know Hubby, my boys and I would not have it any other way. I’m pretty sure Mom feels the same.
My boys are much closer to their Grams than I ever was to my grandparents. My hope is that in addition to the rich experience of having close relationships with my mom, they will also find themselves landing nearby Hubby and me when they settle down.
Stories like that of Katie Dohman, who wrote in the Minnesota Star Tribune that buying a house near her parents was “the smartest thing I ever did,” make me hopeful we are experiencing a resurgence of — and appreciation for — relatives living in close proximity. I would love for my future daughters-in-law to drop in with my future grandkids. It’s a dream of mine to be able to stop by with casseroles during a hectic week and take some weight off the shoulders of my children and their families.
Here are five reasons my boys and their future families should live nearby:
1. Weekly family meals. Getting together on a regular basis to reconnect, break bread and relax provides everyone support and nourishment. I’m happy to do this around sports events like a Carolina Panthers game. And I’m happy to host, provide the bulk of the food and clean up afterwards — with help from Hubby — which gives everyone else a break.
2. Free babysitting. Yes, I would watch the wee ones for free. Especially for much needed regular date nights, weekend getaways or so parents can get through the grocery store without a toddler having a meltdown over the color of a box of cereal.
3. Free tool rental. Why should a young family have to buy up a bunch of expensive tools when a close relative nearby has a basement and shed full of stuff that barely gets used? Think of the money this one point alone could save. And, with a few sweet and complimentary phrases, they could probably get Hubby to fix a few things around the house.
4. Homemade food. Homemade pizza, breads, marinara, meatballs, cookies, cakes, brownies, mac and cheese, pies and more would all be a smile and request away. And I would gladly throw in recipes and cooking lessons for anyone who wanted to learn how to make any of my specialties.
5. No Travel. No traffic, airplane turbulence, bus delays or train food would stand between holidays, birthdays and tons of other special events through the years. The grief, money and time saved on this one benefit alone should be enough to convince my boys that they should set their sights close to home.
We’re all well-versed on how it takes a village to raise a child. I firmly believe from experience that grandparents are a vitally important part of that village. They bring wisdom, experience, great recipes and sweet treats to the table. They always have an empathetic ear to lend not only to their grandchildren, but also their children who work tirelessly to raise their families in today’s complicated world.
With today’s technology and my wanderlust love of travel, I will be close to my future grandchildren wherever they are raised. And if it’s not a few doors down, I can always be a surrogate grandma to little ones who are being raised far away from their own grandparents.