When acquaintances learn of my role as grandMOM, there are two basic reactions. Some people express delight. “Oh, how lucky for both of you. You get to spend those precious moments with your grandchild!”
The other reaction is horror. These people see my responsibility as a huge burden. They pass on sympathy as if I have lost a dear relative or friend. Their angst over my loss of freedom is overwhelming.
The truth of my situation is really a bit of both. True, I don’t have the freedom that an Empty Nester enjoys. I can’t pick up and go have coffee or take a weekend jaunt without pre-planning. Quite a lot of pre-planning. And the responsibilities are constantly in my face. Anyone who has raised kids understands the enormity of what their care involves. And unlike other jobs, this one is indeed 24/7. So it is exhausting. (When I was thirty and raising my family, it was exhausting. Now it is exhausting times 3!)
But, I love spending time with my GD. She is lively and funny, smart and interesting. She’s good company. And now I cannot imagine life without her being my little shadow. I feel thankful and blessed to have her with me.
So it those who are horrified that my life is over, I say, “Oh, it isn’t so bad.” And to those who say, “Aren’t you lucky?” I say, “I am. I’m very tired, but I’m lucky.”
I recently had a young mom complain to me that it seemed hard to be accepted into Mom friend cliques. I sympathized. I can relate. I not only am having a hard time being accepted into any young mom groups (who wants an older woman, a mother figure, at your happy coffee party?) , but I feel I am losing touch with my own generation of friends.
My friends are now middle aged and seniors. Many of them are grandmothers. You know, the grandmothers that have their grandchildren visit for a day or two and they spoil them and feed them too many cookies and then send them home with their parents till the next happy visit.
I have been deprived of being that sort of grandmother. I am the parent. The one who has to say, “No” to another cookie. The one who has to insist on good manners, bath time and healthy eating. The one who stays up nights with a sick child and shops with a cranky child and negotiates endlessly with a wily three year old.
Don’t get me wrong. I am blessed to have this little person in my life and I am so grateful she is with me. But my grammy role is not what I had envisioned it would be.
And because I have this different relationship with my GD (granddaughter) I don’t really fit with my peers. I have to get a babysitter when I want some quiet, chat time with my friends. When people come over to visit, there is a very energetic preschooler tearing around the house, interrupting conversations and looking for attention. Travel has taken on another whole dimension of difficulty, so fun trips with friends rarely happen.
I feel some of my friends drifting away. The exuberance of a preschooler wears on their nerves. My hesitation to make evening plans (“let me see if I can get a sitter”) is irksome. I get it. I understand where they are coming from. They have moved on to the part of their lives where they have some freedom and peace and quiet. Their nests are empty and they are enjoying this phase.
But it is isolating for me at a time when I could use all the help and support I can get.
My doctor told me recently that I don’t fit any demographic. Being the odd one out is not a very comfortable place to be.