Question: Dear Luise: I am a grandmother of a lovely 3 year-old little girl. She lives with my only son and his wife 5 hrs. away from me. They are coming into town this weekend for a wedding. I offered for them to stay at my home but no, they are staying in the hotel where the wedding is. I offered to babysit, either at my home or I would drive to the hotel and stay with her in their room, but no, they are “all set”. I asked if I would get any time at all to see my grand daughter and was told a short time on Sunday morning before they go home, but no time for breakfast even. My son was quite short with me when I asked him why I could not have more time by babysitting and in turn give “them” time to have some fun together for a change while I babysat. He said I just “didn’t get it”; they were coming into town for a reason, which was a wedding and whatever time they had before they went home they would try to fit me in! Bottom line, they do not trust me because I have not been a Mother myself for over 30 years (when my son was born). Her Mother has lived with them for weeks at a time when the baby was born, when they moved from another state and lived in a hotel together for 10 days etc. I am just so tired of being 2nd fiddle all the time to her parent & her sister. If it was her Mother asking to babysit it would be totally different. So what I am asking you, is do I play the grandparent that will “settle for any crumbs” of time they offer me or should I do the “tough love” thing and tell them I know how busy they are and maybe plan to see me when they have a little more time and aren’t so rushed. That will kill me to do because in essence I am only hurting myself by giving up even 1/2 hr. to see my grand daughter, but I feel I need to give them a dose of their own medicine and something to think about on the 5 hr. ride home. Also, many times they have actually bypassed my city on the way to or from going to see “her” parents and even though I practically begged them to meet me at a point on the Thruway for even 1/2 hr. they said they could not do that as they had to get home and had a long drive. You would think I was some kind of tyrant or overbearing MIL but I am not. My daughter in law runs the show and my son does not like confrontation (esp. with her) so I get the short end of the stick because I am the Mother of the Father of the baby. I do make the 5 hr. drive and stay the weekend with them when I can. I am divorced & have raised my son since he was 1 by myself. I have also given them many $1,000’s of $ since they have been married to help them out financially; she does not work. So there you have it; a disappointed, disrespected grandmother and mother who never imagined things would be like this when she became a grandmother. Begging for time… it’s a shame and a disgrace! What should I do? A.
Answer: Dear A. I’m afraid a dose of their own medicine wouldn’t faze them in the least. Your son and daughter in law make up their own rules and you are stuck with them. Since your DIL’s mother gets such preferred treatment, we probably don’t have to work very hard to figure out who is actually making the rules.
It is grossly unfair and terribly prejudiced in the other grandmother’s favor. You are taken for granted, your money is readily accepted without conscience and you are definitely the 2nd fiddle.
One the other side of the coin, you do get to go for occasional visits. I hear from other grandmothers who would give anything to be able to do that, no matter how infrequently and even under any circumstances.
The task at hand is to keep your self-respect when treated with such disrespect. I think it may be time for you to see a counselor to get some perspective on how all of this feels and what you may be able to do to rescue yourself from despair. Your life isn’t over even though being thrown an occasional crumb may add up to creating that feeling. There are things to do and places to go. One place I would suggest you go it to my new web Forum www.motherinlawsunite.com . A critical mass of collective wisdom is forming there that that you may find supportive. Blessings, Luise