I plan to join a grandparent help group next week.
Generally the idea of sitting in a circle with a bunch of strangers, talking about our feelings, does not really appeal to me.
But I am over my head, in the deep end of the pool, struggling to tread water. And having a chance to connect with other people who are feeling the same way seems oddly comforting. I guess misery does like company.
I am hoping to find sympathetic ears in this group and maybe some helpful ideas. It gets lonely being in a different demographic than my peers. I have been thrust into a place where I need to interact with young parents (think about birthday parties, play groups, daycare events)and I feel quite out of the loop. Young moms and dads tend to look at me as a bit of an interloper, an unwanted chaperone. At least, that’s how it seems. Conversations are stilted and brief. Invitations to join them on a park bench as the kids play just don’t happen. I am not part of the cliche.
And my peers find my circumstance a bit daunting. Planning a coffee date or an evening out is not simple for me. I have to plan well in advance, get a sitter, and be home early. Spontaneous shopping trips and glasses of wine aren’t possible for me right now. So I don’t get invited out very often to chat with people my own age.
So I feel a bit like an outcast, and I fear that my grandchild may suffer for that. Will she also be shunned because of our uncommon family situation?
And so, I am hopeful that I will meet other grandparents that experience similar feelings. And maybe we can make our own little community.
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.