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Two Moms, One Roof

Two Moms, One Roof

[box type=”1″ align=”left”] EDITOR’S NOTE: The Rocket City Mom family just keeps getting bigger! Meet our new contributor, Taralyn Caudle, as she writes about how being a single working mom and young professional in the Huntsville community can bring a rich, unique perspective on parenting.[/box]As a 34 year-old woman, I recently made what I thought was a profound discovery. It is, in some ways, unnatural for two mothers to live under the same roof; two mothers of different generations, who also happen to be mother and daughter.

I am an only child and the single mother of one. As such, moving in with my parents has had several practical benefits: VERY affordable rent, the comfort of knowing my daughter is in good hands when I’m away, the sharing of household responsibilities, not to mention on-call access to my daddy’s famous macaroni and cheese.

There are, however, a few drawbacks as well- a litany of which are directly related to the fact that even as an adult and most importantly, a mother, it’s almost impossible for one’s parents to see you as such. ESPECIALLY when you’re sharing living quarters with them. My own personal experience has led me to believe that this is particularly challenging for the maternal parent, thus, the tug of war (and love) between me and my mother.[pullquote type=”2″ align=”right”]“Try as I might to set rules for my daughter, my mother has found an exception to almost every one.”[/pullquote]

Aside from intrusions into personal space, my mother’s restless sleep schedule, and the myriad of rainbow-colored post-it notes she leaves for me (yes, she is single-handedly keeping that brand afloat), the biggest source of tension is exercising my individuality as a parent.

Now to be clear, my mother is the kindest person I have ever known. All of my friends think she is so sweet and thoughtful and intelligent and the best hostess (I like to refer to her as the Black Martha Stewart), and she is indeed all of those things. But adhering to boundaries is… well, difficult for her. Try as I might to set rules for my daughter, my mother has found an exception to almost every one. This, as you might imagine, has led to some very heated discussions about undermining my authority, differing parenting styles, and mutual respect… as well as really important things like not letting my daughter eat Cap-N-Crunch for breakfast everyday this summer.

Post-Its. My mother's favorite form of communication.

Listen, the mother-daughter relationship can be a tenuous one. From a daughter’s perspective, my rough and over-simplified version of the evolution of this relationship goes something like this:
“I love and adore you, mommy. You make everything better, and I want to be just like you when I grow up.”
“Please get away from me. You are so embarrassing!”
“Mom, stop trying to control me… I can make my own decisions!”

But from a mother’s perspective, perhaps the most difficult (albeit joyous) transition can be watching her baby become a mother herself. It just screams “I AM A WOMAN!” in a way that nothing else does. Now add sharing the same roof to that and things get a little tricky.

How do I exercise my independence as a woman and a mother? How do I maintain a healthy relationship with my mother while also setting limits on her parenting advice? How do I ensure that my daughter understands these boundaries without interfering with the relationship she has with her grandmother?

I would imagine these questions are sometimes easier to answer when mother and daughter and granddaughter aren’t living in such close proximity. Having said that, there are a few things I’ve learned about managing this delicate situation.

First, understanding and acceptance are key. My mother is who she is and she’s not likely to change. As much as I want her to understand my frustrations, I have to also understand that whatever unsolicited advice she offers generally comes from a place of love. Secondly, communication is absolutely essential. I have often found that writing my mother a note (not a post-it) or sending her an e-mail when I’m frustrated is a good way to get the ball rolling. My mother and I are both writers of sorts, and sometimes we simply communicate more effectively that way. Third, I try to remember what a blessing it is for me to have my mother in my life and how great it is for my daughter to have such a close relationship with her Grammie. Last, but certainly not least, weekend excursions to spend some time apart are GOOD, VERY GOOD.

Note to self: When we move, find a place with a spacious guest house… love you, momma!


View Comments (17)
  • Welcome Taralyn! What an amazing post! Before we got married, my husband was living with his mother and 2 year old son. They experienced MANY of the same things. It sounds like you’ve got a good handle on it though. Like you noted, one of the awesome upsides to situations like this is that your daughter will always have a special relationship with your mother.

    • Thanks, Lexie! Glad to be a part of the team…and I’m also glad to hear that I’m not alone.

  • Welcome, Taralyn. Thanks for the great post. My parents live about 75 miles away, but we see them sometimes several times a month, so I’ve found myself feeling the same way about my mother trying to parent my kids a bit too much. I look forward to future posts from you.

  • Thank you, Barbara! I think it’s just the way it is. But now that I’ve written this post, find myself thinking about how I’ll be when my own daughter has children someday. Scary!

  • J,

    This is absolutely amazing! The fact that U know you and your Mom in a couple of roles, this blog is great! Can’t wait to keep reading the adventures of the “C” women!!!!

  • Great article! I have been in your shoes. I moved in with my parents for a few months last year and experienced a lot of the same issues (minus the sticky notes). I found it difficult to establish my motherly role under my mother’s roof. She would make decisions and then tell me HER plans after she had already promised/told my daughter about them, thus if I disagree or decide to do something different then I was the “party pooper” (so to speak). In the end, I could see the relationship between my mother and my daughter changing into one that I did not like, and because of that and other things I decided it was best for us to move out.

    Mother’s are always going to put their two-cents in whether we ask for it or not. Keeping the lines of communication open is definitely key to keeping the peace and sanity.

    Luckily, moving out was a good choice for us, and my mother is always available any day/time for a “Grandma day” with her grand-daughter.

  • Hi Taralyn! This is my first time responding to a post on rocket city mom but I felt like this situation was so close to mine it’s scary. I have a 6 year old daughter that I raised by myself for 4 years. Recently I got married and moved to Huntsville with my husband. Since he is in college, his parents wanted us to stay with them until we can get on our feet. So we now live with my mother in law. Even though I sometimes feel I’m fighting a losing battle parenting I see this relationship with my daughter and her “Ya Ya” growing and becoming very strong. I definatly would give up a few battles of ‘no chocolate cake for breakfast’ for ‘Ya Ya thank you for painting with me’. Sometimes two mothers under one house hold can be an amazing thing.
    I look forward to your next articles.

  • As a mother that has lived back home with her mother….I absolutely understand!!!

  • Great read! You’re shaking things up from the traditional posts with a husband and multiple children families. Since this is still working for you in several different ways, I wish family was here with me to balance work, a toddler, and a life. Uggg! I have to hang in there I guess. Great post! Keep them coming.

  • It is SO hard moving back home as an adult!! I am struggling with this situation right now myself! I wish you the best!

  • This article is absolutely awesome, Taralyn! I so understand what you are going through. Although we are not living with my mother, she still, whenever we are around her, does the same! It is so very hard sometimes to find that balance and still feel like I am the mother to my own without hurting her feelings or upsetting her. I love your thoughts and attitude about the situation! Thank you so much for sharing your beautiful writing talent here!

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