ControverSunday: Grandparents

by Ginger on May 9, 2010

in Family, Mom Thoughts

It’s that time once again–ControverSunday! If you’d like to join in (just jump in and join us! It’s what I did), just write something up, grab the badge from Accidents’ and then head over to Perpetua’s place to get linked up.

This week’s topic is grandparents, in all their glory.

When I was growing up, I had an embarrassment of riches in the family department–thanks to divorce and remarriage, and very long lived relatives, I knew or had spent time with 3 grandmothers, 4 grandfathers, 6 great grandparents. I loved my grandparents, everyone one of them, in different ways, but my grandmothers and my great grandmother on my mom’s side in particular were something special to me. We had our own special relationships, one that included fun, and being told to clean my plate, and playing dress-up in fancy jewelry and being told to stay away from certain things “not for kids.” I loved that I spent a lot of time every year with my various grandparents, even knowing as a kid how lucky I was to have those relationships.

Jackson has a similar embarrassment of riches in the grandparent department–3 grandmothers, and 3 grandfathers. Plus 3 sets of great grandparents. But he may very well end up with a very different relationship with his extended family because they, by virtue of geography, will not have the quantity of time with him that I was lucky to have with mine. It’s one of the things that I find hard about living so far away from family–this feeling that I’m depriving J of the experiences I had growing up and the love and support that I was lucky enough to have.

We don’t have the funds to travel to all the family very often. When I was growing up, we lived a 4 hour drive from my most distant grandparents. We live a 5 hour FLIGHT from Jackson’s (3 if there’s a miracle and they’ve got a direct flight). I worry about what that will mean for those relationships. I worry that Jackson won’t have that connection with his grandparents that I have with mine. While there are Skype conversations to be had, videos to share and emails to be written, it’s not the same as sitting and reading with grandma, or going fishing with grandpa, or sneaking an extra ice cream cone because grandma said it was ok.

There are tricky waters to navigate with grandparents, yes. There are differences in child-rearing, and having to put your foot down about certain things because YOU are the parent now. There are negotiations over what’s important enough for an argument and what to let slide. There’s a special dance with your own parents and your in-laws and your spouse (please tell me I’m not the only one who goes through this!). Sometimes there is biting your tongue and sometimes there is yelling so that it’s known that you aren’t bending on this thing. And frankly, because we don’t live close to our families, this is something we only have to deal with in short bursts–weekends, and holidays and the occasional week here and there. But I’d take the trade to have to do it more often if it meant that Jackson had more time with that web of people who love and adore him. Because while that fight may be hard sometimes (as parents, as adult children standing up to your parents, as in-laws, etc), the knowledge that these people love Jackson almost as much as I do and only want the best for him is worth it.

Now,you should go check out more of the participants of ControverSunday–they’re all smarter than me, and have the posts to prove it!

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P.S. if you haven’t weighed in on my latest post–Ask the Internet: Travel Edition–do it! I need all the suggestions I can get for travelling with the kiddo.

P.P.S. Happy Mother’s Day to all the moms out there–I know it’s a Hallmark holiday, but I want to at least wish you all a happy day as a thank you for letting me be a part of this little online community of moms. I appreciate having this virtual world to share the joys, frustrations and weirdness that comes with having a kid (or 3 or 4 or…). So Happy Mother’s Day today and everyday. Here’s wishing you a day where someone else changes the diapers, someone else cleans the kitchen, and you get nothing but the good stuff.

Elizabeth May 9, 2010 at 8:14 pm

When we made plans to move to Boston, I was still pregnant. I felt a twinge of guilt knowing that I was taking that kid away from all the grandparents–all 4 live in the San Antonio area.

We ultimately decided that it was more important for us to have fulfilling lives, and that would enrich the kid’s life more than the convenience of being near extended family.

Plus! Now that we’re here, we will be getting more quality time with everyone. I remember weeks with my one far away grandpa so well, and I cherish those just as much as I cherish the regular nights spent with my local grandparents.

Ginger May 10, 2010 at 6:52 pm

Oh, don’t get me wrong–I totally agree that it’s really important to be fulfilled for us, and I would NOT want to hinder our lives just to be closer to family. Especially considering how much I love where we live!
But, expecially when he’s so young and we can’t just pack him off to the family without us, figuring out how to get them to spend time together is tough (especially since there are 4 cities in 4 states for all the grandparents!). And I just don’t want our inability to afford travel for everyone to limit the relationships.

Elizabeth May 10, 2010 at 6:54 pm

That’s totally understandable–we’re just stinking lucky that all 4 of the grandparents are in the same city. It makes things a piece of cake for visiting. Maybe one day we’ll both be in Texas at the same time!

Perpetua May 10, 2010 at 4:39 am

So, this is the week where you guys indirectly show me how not to be a jerk. Jeez, MIL lives on another freaking continent–why am I forgetting that? I know that a lot of her words and actions are governed by her fear that she has no impact on E’s life, given that she is so far away. I really need to remember that when I’m in the moment and fuming at her for being a know-it-all.

Thanks for reminding me of all this. 🙂

Ginger May 10, 2010 at 6:54 pm

I’m sure it’s hard for your MIL. That doesn’t excuse her undermining or insulting your parenting (!!) but I can definitely see how she would be afraid of having no impact. Surely though she can figure out a better way to make sure she’s a part of his life that works for all of you!

Mama Lungo May 10, 2010 at 11:16 am

Happy mothers Day to you too! Hope it was a good one!

Megan May 10, 2010 at 5:59 pm

Yeah, I feel like a jerk, too.

I just ranted and raved on P’s blog about my bossy MIL and having no time for ourselves, but I should remember to be grateful that Charlotte will get to spend so much time with her grandparents and cousins.

Ginger May 10, 2010 at 6:59 pm

She will be lucky! But that doesn’t mean that it’s not hard sometimes to share with everyone. I know I’m painting the rosy, lovely picture over here with my wishing, but that’s not to say that it wouldn’t be exhausting sometimes to always have someone up in your business.
I think sometimes about how my mom reacts to my grandmother (who was always nearby when I was little) and see how the constant “other mother” affected her, and…yeah, that would be hard.

Partial May 10, 2010 at 8:16 pm

I also had a ton of grandparents. I still had all four until last summer, and I was close to 3 of my great grandparents. But I had to share them with a total of 82 first cousins. That’s where Squirrel differs. She’s the only one. All attention, hopes, worries, expectations are on her. She’s getting a lot more other mothering for sure. Good thing it’s been positive so far….

Lorry May 10, 2010 at 11:18 pm

My entire extended family lived at a minimum a full day’s drive away when I was growing up. I saw my grandparents once a year, and aunts, uncles, and cousins more like every other year. I think I turned out pretty well. I never felt like I was missing out on anything, since I already had friends and stuff to do. When my friends talked about seeing their family, they never said anything so special or magical was happening that I had a reason to be jealous.

The *one* gripe I have is that my grandparents didn’t really know me well enough to pick out awesome Christmas presents. lol They just got things they figured a girl of whatever age would like, and it was hit or miss. But even as a kid, I just kinda shrugged this off. I knew they were trying.

As a parent, I love being close to one set of grandparents (my in-laws) for practical reasons. They adore Bean and will look after her free of charge when T and I want a date night or whatever. I’m glad she’ll get to have a relationship with them growing up, but I don’t think it’s a make or break thing, since I never got it at all.

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