My mom had a flood.
A big flood.
Shoes were floating in the toilet, items floated away, and the water was up to my 6’5” step-father’s knees. Like a scene from the Titanic, he woke up to the water rising around his bed, leaving him trapped on an island with his 2 German Shepherd dogs.
Fortunately, my mom was staying with me while my husband was out of town, helping to care for my two small children. I am so grateful for that always, but especially this night. The rain was record-breaking, and their house had been flooded before. Not because they are in a flood plain, mind you, but because the neighborhood storm drain had not been cleaned out by the city. Nevertheless, here they were again.
This time, my family and I lived in town. This time, we could really help.
Without question, they brought their dogs and whatever clothes they could salvage over to our house and made their home in the basement. No husband celebrates the idea of the in-laws moving in, but my husband didn’t question it for a second. Okay, maybe he questioned the dogs for a second, but he still invited them in. After a bath. A gross, rainwater and muddy-filled bath.
While not ideal, this living arrangement turned out to be awesome for me and my kids. Here are some takeaways:
1. If possible, have separate spaces. We are fortunate enough to have a half-finished basement with a full bath and a walk-out so they could have their own space. Small kids are a lot, so it was a refuge when they needed some space.
2. Set boundaries upfront. If you have any expectations or needs, clear those up early so they don’t become problematic later.
3. Wow, having more of a community to raise children really is incredible. After school, the kids would be pumped to run downstairs to say hello to Grandma and Grandpa, and it gave my husband and I a chance to take a deep breath, knowing they were still getting their needs met for love and attention.
4. The joy of watching Grandparents delight in grandchildren is what this is all about. They walked the dogs together, looked forward to seeing each other, cooked together, and even went to after-school activities together. I don’t think anyone was happier about the arrangement than Grandma, despite the stress of losing her home!
Yes, there were moments of frustration or just a readiness to get “home” for them, but it was an opportunity to get some perspective on family, generational value, and what we can learn and offer to each other. Memories for which I will always be grateful.