Your stories for the week
Wow, I feel so jealous reading these posts. Our parents range from well-meaning but bumbling to anti-vax conspiracy theorist. I wish we could count on them to support. A couple family members are only 30 min away. But they're just not capable and it feels so disappointing. Like, you raised children - we're here. How did you forget so much??
My MIL is very involved with our 13 mo daughter and my wife says it’s incredibly healing to witness because she was not a particularly attuned mother but she’s a fantastic grandma.
Loretta, I feel your pain! My parents were very involved in our daughter’s life, but divorced (after 35 years) right before my son was born. It’s so sad to see the difference now to what was--he’s 18 months but has only seen them a handful of times, and their relationship with our daughter (almost 5) has dwindled. We moved to be closer to them, and then they became too involved with their new lives to worry about the grandkids. It is heartbreaking--expectations are the worst! We are trying to fill their lives with other meaningful connections and people who care about them--it doesn’t have to be just grandparents 😊
Courtney and Loretta,
I feel your disappointment. We have the only grandchild on both sides of the family and see the grandparents three to four times a year for long weekends. They live across the country, but they are retired with plenty of time and money for more frequent visits. My parents have no reason to live where they do anymore. They love our son, but it feels they see him as our hobby instead of a human with whom they should have a close relationship. I didn’t expect them to move and help us, but it’s also frustrating to see them spend time on meaningless activities (lots of TV and phone time) instead of being a regular part of our son’s life. I’ve thought about discussing this with them, but I also don’t want to be offensive or demanding, especially when they were dedicated to giving me a great childhood. They have the right to live our own lives, but I wish their lives had different priorities.
My husband's father died four days before my daughter was born, and it was a great sadness for me that he never got to meet her. However, I am incredibly lucky to live five minutes away from my mother-in-law, who is a hugely important presence in my now-two-year-old's life, and indeed in mine. My daughter adores her grandmother, and I don't know how I'd have made it through these past couple of years without her support either: she is an incredible person, and I recognise the immense value in having a very close bond with my mother-in-law, particularly as MIL horror stories seem extremely common! It's a great privilege for my daughter to be able to see my MIL almost every day, and a joy for me to watch their relationship develop too. I hope too that my exuberant toddler has also been able to be some sort of light in my mother-in-law's life after the sudden death of her husband.
My paternal grandparents were a saving grace in my life; they lived 15 minutes away, and provided a steady source of love and support while my parents coped with many personal struggles, as a couple and then two divorced single parents. My son has two solid parents and no close family nearby. I am in a state of constant ambivalence about this. As others have noted, expectations frame our interpretation of what grandparents (or anyone really) can or choose to give: if we expect little, we may feel gratitude, and if we expect much (or just long deeply for what others have), we can feel cheated. I will be honest and say I’m not a paragon of gratitude every day when it comes to my present circumstances. But I am so grateful for the gift of my own loving grandparents, more and more every day, when I think about the fact that their love was given freely, though not without sacrifice, in ways that made me the steady parent I am today.
My mom was diagnosed with a glioblastoma when I was 36 weeks pregnant. I was (understandably) induced for high blood pressure a week later.
In the midst of her diagnosis, she has been the most amazing, available Mimi to my 20 month old daughter. It’s been wonderful because my mom was a preschool teacher but also bittersweet knowing that my daughter will likely not remember her (unless we are very very very lucky) even though she’s outlived her prognosis so far.
My dad is getting better the more interactive she becomes and we’re lucky that my in laws are fabulous and helpful but my MIL isn’t my mom. I’m mourning having more kids because I cannot be pregnant when she passes so I’ve been putting it off but also know that longer I put it off the more realistically she won’t meet them. It’s so hard when your parent exceeds expectations but also is slowly being ripped from you by disease.
I am so lucky to have four supportive grandparents for my daughter. One set lives half a mile away and watch her once a week and the other two both live across the country but eagerly look forward to visits. That being said - the constant managing of expectations, family time, trying to enforce reasonable boundaries, and so on is really draining. I fully realize just how lucky we are but sometimes I wish we spent a *little* less time together (it’s my FIL’s dream to live in multigenerational housing and be together 24/7).
My parents live closer to us and are very involved with our two daughters, which we love. I never had close relationships with my grandparents and while I personally struggle with my parents sometimes, they have been very warm and loving grandparents to my daughters. However my FIL, who made a huge to-do when I was pregnant with my first, has barely spent any time with my daughters. He saved well and has a nice pension so he travels a lot, think several multi-week international trips per year, but is coming out for only the third time soon, and barely made time for us when we went to see my husband’s other family in California. We learned through reading that he’s a narcissist, and it just breaks my heart. I’ll never forget him yelling at my husband on his first Father’s Day as a dad that he didn’t feel included in our day (we live in the Midwest, and our daughter was two months old). He never offers to help and barely calls. I’m grateful for the grandparents we have, but it’s hard for me to even pretend to care about my girls getting to know him.
The first person I told about my plans to become a solo mother was my grandmother, who was excited and delighted for me. It breaks my heart that my son, the youngest of her many great grandchildren (she had three biological children, four step children, 18 grandchildren and, at the latest count, nine great grandchildren) will never know her as the vibrant, comforting presence she has always been in our lives - she had a catastrophic stroke six months before I got pregnant and while she is still physically here, she no longer recognises her family and can no longer speak, write, read or walk. Unexpectedly, my parents have found themselves to be unstintingly delighted in my son’s existence and set aside their Saturday morning every week for a long play via Skype (we are on different continents), and my son is equally delighted - every time he sees an airplane, he asks if that one is going to Bonn and Baba’s house.
My dad died a few years before I got married and had my kiddo... I think about him often and it's hard knowing that someone who was so important in my life never even got to meet my husband. She asks sometimes about the missing grandfather because she knows she has two grandmothers; I talk about him, but she's too young to understand yet.
My mom...wants to be helpful for the sake of being helpful, but she's not actually helpful. If that makes sense.
My partner's mom drank a hole in her brain; she's around, but relies on others for transportation and couldn't be left alone with our daughter even if we trusted her to be.
Partner's dad is amazing. He's definitely an old "boomer", but he's never made any stereotypical comments about minorities, the LGBTQ community, etc. He drops everything when we need him and he and our kiddo ADORE each other. Evidently he's a much better grandpa than he was a father, so it's a bit cathartic for my husband to see.
When I got pregnant, I knew my baby would only have one grandma, since the other 3 biological grandparents have already passed away. And the grandma lives in another country, an 8h flight away, so I was afraid their relationship was not going to have many opportunities to flourish. I'm glad to report that I was wrong! During my daughter's first year of life, grandma came to visit us 4 times for a week each and we visited her once for 3 weeks. That is almost 2 months out of 12! And they video call almost every day. It is so sweet to see that my daughter recognizes and loves her grandma so much.
We live far from our parents and get visits from them a few times a year. We’re in North Carolina and they’re in California and Massachusetts. Our kids are 18 months and 4 months. At first I thought we were missing out on a bunch of help, but have since realized a few things. 1. Having our parents a plane-ride away means that when they’re near they get to be fun, not just functional. 2. With the exception of my mom, they’re not really jumping to help with laundry or date night kid coverage or cooking, and I don’t think that would change if we lived closer. 3. My mom is one of eleven kids (there’s 30-something of us first cousins) and the presence of all that family didn’t help my mom single parent. I think being from a big family (or at least my big family) doesn’t mean community, it means figuring out how to fend for yourself.
Anyway, it’s nice to see our parents through the lens of grandparenthood, sort of makes them more human and less to blame for the things that we would have wanted them to do differently in raising us. They did the best that they knew how to do.
My grandfather was my favorite person and he made those around him better, myself included. He passed away suddenly and unexpectedly in 2019 and is fully missed. I saw him with my brother's and cousins' kids and it was always such a joy, bringing back memories of the many days we spent together throughout my childhood. He and my grandma helped my single mom raise me and my brother from an early age. My papa supported me through everything in life.
His passing resulted in bumping up starting my own family; I told my husband I didn't want anyone else to miss meeting our children. My son was born a year after my papa died, to the date. And it breaks my heart they didn't get to become best buds, because I know he would've adored my son.
I long for that same relationship between my children and their grandparents. But why is it so hard? My mom and stepdad don't respect boundaries and aren't aligned with our family values. When they do show up, it's often a time of stress and high tension. Expectations truly are a bitch.
My dad was diagnosed with a very debilitating, fast evolving neurodegenerative disease about two months after my kid was born. It’s been challenging, at points sweet, sometimes very painful to see his relationship with the baby develop despite everything.
I’m Asian and grandparenting in here is quite different. While we embrace the willingness of grandparents to be part of our children’s lives, there are moments where they overstep and overreach. ☺️ sometimes it gets crazy!