Making Room for Abuela: Multigenerational Living while Safer at Home


Safer at home: A Multigenerational Experience

I grew up in a multigenerational home, living with my Abuela “Mamá Gloria,” she worked, made my brother and I dinner, and took care of us alongside my mother. Mamá carried me in her arms during the wintertime while waiting for the city bus. She made me caldito de pollo when I was sick. Years later, she often came while I was maternity leave to keep me company.


Mamá has always been my everything.

She was the first person I thought of when COVID-19 cases started. And just as if her age wasn’t enough to put her on the vulnerable list, days prior, we had found out about some health issues. That news had not even sunk in before we had to move on to worrying about her contracting Coronavirus.  

My family lives in a multigenerational home. My mom and brother are still going to work every day, business as usual. After discussing it with my husband, we knew that bringing Mamá to live with us was the best way to keep her safe and healthy, and we immediately put ourselves in self-quarantine. (I acknowledge our privilege to both be able to work from home, also while having our two-year-old with us).

Being able to spend extra time with Mamá has been the silver lining in all of this. Not only do I get to spend time with her, but so does my daughter. She loves her Bisabuela “Bisa.” Watching Mamá and my little cooking together, chase each other around the house, read books, truly warms my heart. Mamá is going to be 89 in a couple of months, but still has so much energy!

I hope I got all those good genetics!

Mamá has been living with us for four weeks. She had it in her mind that this would last one week, maybe two, even though we were honest with her from the beginning. Now each time the “Safer at Home” gets extended, I can tell it’s hard on her. She misses her home, and she most definitely misses her baby, my little brother. I often find her looking out the window, watching the birds, a bit emotional. She tells me that prays for all of those who are sick and those who are struggling without jobs.

Her faith gives me strength. 

Many nights a week, Mamá Gloria and I cuddle and watch TV. She doesn’t speak or read English, but she says she gets the gist by watching and “reading” English subtitles. Which means, I stop every 20 minutes or so and explain parts of the plot. We drink cafecito and enjoy each other’s company. Not the circumstances I would have wanted,  but I am so grateful to be able to spend time and make room for Abuela in our home. 


  1. Cafecito!

    I am so happy your abuelita is safe! At the beginning of March, my husband and I returned from a trip to Spain. One morning, we were eating our cafecito y pastelito at the Mercat Central in Valencia and started talking to the three abuelitas next to us. My husband is just learning Spanish and they were so encouraging to him. We had a lovely 20 minute chat that included their insisting we try their pastelitos warmed a la plancha and their advice that we visit the Albufera (“es muy lindo”).

    We think about the three abuelitas and hope they are safe. And all the other abuelitas around the world.


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