Kind of long. Sorry.
My toddler son's paternal grandmother has been a good friend of mine for quite awhile. She's the one that initially introduced me to her son, and set about giving a none too subtle push to give each other a shot. We did (clearly), but it didn't work out. I found out I was pregnant with DS after I had already moved states away. His father hasn't had any interest in forming a relationship with DS, but I've maintained regular contact with her. Recently, the father started denying that DS is his child. I don't particularly care. Grandma got upset, though, and got on him about it. He called her some terrible names, kicked her off his property, and now refuses to speak to her or allow her to see her granddaughters anymore. She's been wanting to move down here for awhile now, and now she has nothing left up there and is trying to find a way to get down here with us. She's been battling depression for a long time now, and her relationship with her son has been strained at best for quite awhile. I'd like to have her here, and I think it would be great for DS to have a relationship with family other than myself and DD. The only income she has is disability, and it would be difficult for her to find anything in her budget other than low income housing (which is where I'm moving to), but the wait list tends to be pretty long, so I plan on putting her on my application, getting her a bus ticket, and having her move with me instead of getting her down here without a long term place to live. I figure financially it makes more sense to live together than separately, and since this will be the first time she's left the area she has lived all her life, it would be good for her to stay with someone she knows.
The problem is that I do things very, very differently from what she is used to, and she's not really aware of just how different. She tries to keep an open mind (one of the things I love about her), but she's always lived in a very conservative area where everyone pretty much does everything the same way and has never really been exposed to alternative parenting or lifestyle decisions. In my experience, coming down here is a bit of a culture shock on it's own. Also, she's feeling very insecure about how she has done as a parent. Although we've functioned wonderfully as friends, now she isn't just my friend. She's my child's grandmother, too. I'm worried about how things are going to go once she's confronted with the choices I've made in regards to the children that are going to seem bizarre to her. I'm really scared of our relationship being damaged by this move, but at the same time, I feel that getting her down here is really important. .
She already knows that I have been breastfeeding DS far beyond what she considers normal (he is 17 months), and although she did raise concerns recently, I mentioned that WHO recommends breastfeeding for at least 2 years, and she dropped it. She knows that he does not eat dairy products, which she assumed was due to him being lactose intollerant (partly true), dropped it, and I didn't find the need to clarify at the time. She knows I cloth diaper, which she is totally cool with. She is not aware that we don't eat meat, aren't Christian, avoid most processed foods, GMOs, HFCS, food dyes, etc., don't watch TV, homeschool, use family cloth, avoid plastics (especially in regards to toys), don't spank (or "swat"), and the list goes on. A lot of that I don't think she will be as open to. I'm perfectly fine with bringing meat into the house for her (just not for the kids or myself), getting a TV for her room (again, just not for the kids to use), having toilet paper for her, etc. I want her to have what she's used to within reason. I'm just not sure how to gently introduce her to the way we live that won't leave her running back up north freaked out and ranting about the crazy hippie lady that has her grandbaby. She's used to giving a grandkid a swat on the butt for misbehaving (which was fine by the parents of her granddaughters), pushing junk food and soda, sitting in front of a cartoon to socialize with little ones, parents never breastfeeding past 3 or 4 months if they breastfeed at all, CIO, that sort. She really is a complete sweetheart, but that's how everyone does things there, and she's never known anything else.
Any ideas on how I can make this transition easier for everyone involved?