I’m a grandmother to 9 kids. They are all beautiful, happy souls but they are all so different. Naturally, my relationship has differed with each one, but after an incident last week I’ve realised that it isn’t necessarily a good thing.
I have four granddaughters. The first granddaughter has always been cheeky but she’s always put a smile on my face. She has grown up just two suburbs over from where we lived and while we babysat her and have been very present throughout her life, we’ve never lived in each others pockets. We catch up sometimes more than once a week and sometimes it will only be once a month depending on how our lives are travelling but when we do catch up it is full of love and happiness.
Her mother, my daughter, never depended on my for babysitting. I freely gave many hours to her and I did babysit, but it was never a permanent fixture or arrangement that became embedded in my diary except for the rare occasion when her mother was working in intensive two week blocks just a couple of times a year. It’s been a lovely relationship that I treasure – everything I imagined grandparenting would be!
But last week, the second youngest and I got into an argument. It was a serious argument about a serious thing – her schoolwork. Her marks had fallen drastically in the last year, she had given up violin, she self-proclaimed that she “doesn’t care” about school but she couldn’t give us any reason or any alternative. It was a relatively new thing, this attitude shift and it was worrying me sick that she was going to throw away her private education. She had been arguing increasingly with her mother doing things like leaving the house late and night, getting into cars with “friends” her parents had never met and going about things on her own agenda. All of this while she was just 16.
Now while I was trying to talk to her – at her mother’s request, I realised something. Because I was her after school pick up, extra curricular activity driver and dinner maker at least twice a week every week, my relationship with her had transformed. I was no longer the “grandma” who you went to for advice, to escape the parents, for cuddles and happy times. I had become an authoritative figure in her life because of this involvement and she was rebelling.
While working is important, my daughter has not had a serious “need” to work, financially, as her husband has been extremely hard working and has got the family to a more than comfortable position. It is out of her own choice to work that she has, and I’ve been assumed as the natural option when it comes to help.
Now don’t get me wrong, I am happy to help out. I love having involvement in the lives of my grandkids but most importantly, I’ve loved being a confidante to them all. I’ve loved knowing that they trust and respect me enough to come to me with any problem. But I’ve lost the opportunity to build that kind of relationship with my second eldest granddaughter because of this.
Being “there” for my grandkids has been a blessing and now I realise, somewhat of a curse. I’ve always known and understood that I needed to have different relationships with each of my grandkids but I never expected the difference to be quite like this.
I want to know, have your circumstances and relationships changed with each grandchild from each different family? Share your stories about grandparenting with us today…