When I first came to my mom for help, I was twenty-nine years old and getting divorced. I asked if I could move in with mom, even though I felt much too old to move back home. Still, I had no other choice. I'd followed my spouse 1,000 miles across the country to New York City for his job. Once we moved and my marriage fell apart, I had no job in the city and no connections there, so I packed my bags and moved to my mom's house in Georgia with my son.
My mother has always been supportive of me. When I called and said I needed a place to stay, she let me move back home. It was the same house I'd grown up in, though everything else was different. I had a three-year-old to care for and no source of income. When I first moved back home, I thought for sure my stay would be short-lived and that I would only need a place to live while I searched for work. Boy, was I ever wrong!
My first obstacle in finding work was interviewing. I couldn't cart a three-year-old along on job interviews. Thus, I had to appeal to mom to babysit my son Chris while I went to appointments. The first few interviews were a bust, and I got no offers. This frustrated me, but it also frustrated my mother, who was working part-time and had to put her social activities on hold to babysit. Still, I convinced her to help me by promising that the sooner I found work the sooner we could move out.
Finally, I got a job in an office in town. The job meant a steady paycheck, but it was still a struggle to find an apartment I could afford while combating the challenges of being a single mom. Because my ex-husband and I had both worked for most of our marriage, I was used to two incomes. In order to move out of my mother's place, I had to work for several months to save enough for a deposit and other moving costs. This meant, of course, that I had to make another desperate appeal to mom to babysit while I worked. Thank god, our schedules didn't cross! Because mom worked weekends and I kept banker's hours, she was home to look after Chris. She gave Chris emotional support and drove him to preschool. She gave me great advice about contacting the proper state department to get court-ordered child support.
Showing My Gratitude
Though mom sometimes complained about babysitting, I mellowed her by doing everything I could for her while we lived there. I did all of the following and then some:
- Took on more than my share of housework.
- Paid mom for babysitting (whenever I could.)
- Constantly let her know how much her help meant to Chris and me.
- Cooked meals whenever I was home.
- Contributed to household utility bills.
Another way I convinced her to continue helping was to promise to fully repay her some day. Since mom is elderly now and doesn't drive, she often needs me to drive her to doctor's appointments, which I gladly do. Because she's afraid to live alone at an old age, I've promised she can come live with Chris and me whenever she wants. I've also begun to compare aged care facilities. Mom is open to moving into such a facility if need be, and I've promised to cover her expenses when the time comes.