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the other grandparents

(37 Posts)
Fergie Tue 20-Nov-12 12:42:45

My older daughter had a little boy last year, my first grandchild. Her father and I divorced in the early 90s and I have been on my own since. When my daughter first got together with her partner they lived on the top floor of his parents' house for some years. They now live in a small flat not that far from the house, and a little further from where I live. The other grandparents - my daughter's "in-laws" - are financially and, I think, emotionally secure, having been married and lived in the same house for 35 years, and having had solid employment all that time. They offer their son and my daughter the use of their house, and offer financial and other practical support too. Until the little boy starts nursery, the other grandmother and I have each been looking after him one day a week so my daughter can work and bring in some much needed money - she and her partner are struggling financially.
I too struggle financially and often feel very lonely. I feel I cannot compete with the other grandparents, with their big, comfortable house and their years of security. Irrational, I know, but I sometimes feel they are "taking over" and I feel marginalised and excluded. I have particular difficulty with the other grandmother who I find annoyingly chirpy. Our grandson's first birthday gathering was hosted at the other grandparents' house - the first I knew it would be held there was a day or two before. Again, I felt overlooked and ignored. I brought this up with my daughter (not in the most appropriate way, I agree) and now she is angry and upset because, rightly, she does not feel it her job to reassure me and she has so much on her plate anyway. I would, though, have liked her at least to have acknowledged my feelings.
Now I don't know what my relationship is with her - am I just a babysitter? If I am to avoid talk of feelings, what kind of relationship is that? I also feel that if I didn't look after the little boy on a regular basis, I would barely see my daughter at all as she just wouldn't think to make contact with me. I would so love a proper connection with her and a loving, open relationship.
I feel I have rather made a hash of recent events.
Has anyone else had a similar experience and can anyone offer any advice and insight about the way forward?

jO5 Tue 20-Nov-12 12:50:37

To start with, I think it was reasonable to let your daughter know how you felt about the birthday party being arranged there, without mentioning it to you beforehand. It would be good if your DD could have given you the opportunity to provide a bit towards the proceedings - perhaps supplying the cake or something.

Why do daughters think just because they have children they don't owe it to their mothers to provide them with just a little understanding? Surely they could manage both. I suppose it's because they are young. hmm

All I can say is, keep talking to her. Try and do it nicely though. Definitely keep relationship sweet.

jO5 Tue 20-Nov-12 12:51:52

And remember your grandson will never look upon you as "just a babysitter".

NannaJeannie Tue 20-Nov-12 12:55:28

Draw a line under it fergie, you can't help it that the other grandparents are chirpy, you will have to just do what you can. Perhaps you could could build up a little stash of toys at your flat from car boot sales or charity shops, you can get stuff for 50p or £1. Your daughter will be relying on you for support as having a toddler will be tiring. Get a nursery rhyme book with pictures and be the nanna who teaches your grandson nursery rhymes, be consistent and he will love the repetition.

I am sorry but I speak as the 'chirpy' grandmother. Give Give Give (not money), its your job.

Start again

If any other gransnetters think I am harsh, then say so

Fergie Tue 20-Nov-12 13:00:50

Bless you JO5! Feeling valued is at the crux of this. Yes it would have felt so nice to be included in some way - and for her response to have been, "I'm sorry you feel that way, but please come to T's birthday, it wouldn't be the same without you," rather than "it's your problem", which was the sort of message I got.

Sel Tue 20-Nov-12 13:01:18

Fergie So many emotions in a few paragraphs. I feel for you. I think the way you are feeling is perfectly understandable, most would do the same, I certainly would. That's not to say that your feelings of being marginalised and excluded are necessarily accurate but if that's how you feel then I don't think there is anything wrong about conveying that to your daughter, You were feeling hurt though and it's hard to handle a 'discussion' with daughter under those circumstances.

Possibly her anger and upset are tinged by some guilt on her part?

You mention she is your older daughter - could a younger one possibly intervene and explain quitely how you are feeling?

I did love your description of the other Grandma being 'annoyingly chirpy' smile

Fergie Tue 20-Nov-12 13:10:31

Thanks NannaJeannie and Sel, lots of good advice in there. The idea of having toys here for when my grandson comes over is a good one and, later, as he gets older we'll be able to do more things together.
I could talk to my younger daughter about this, Sel, but I don't think it would be appropriate to get her involved - and I don't think she'd want to anyway. It would just blow it up into something bigger. But thanks for the idea.
Reading my initial post again, I can almost see the answers there, in-between the lines: value myself and, when the dust has settled, have a quiet, calm talk with my daughter.

Sel Tue 20-Nov-12 14:07:38

How wise you sound Fergie and one can't put a value on that. Also intelligent and computer savvy - hopefully the chirpy one is none of these smile

jO5 Tue 20-Nov-12 14:10:00

Sometimes I wish my younger DD would have a word with her older sister. But It's no good risking spoiling their relationship.

Ella46 Tue 20-Nov-12 14:48:35

Fergie also bear in mind that it might have been a bad day for your daughter. I know it's no excuse, but she is only human, and it sounds as though she is under pressure too!

Just keep smiling and loving them all, I'm sure you will sort it out flowers

Mishap Tue 20-Nov-12 14:56:46

The relationship between the 2 sets of grandparents can often be uneasy. Our 2nd DD has two boys (1 and 3) and they live about 1 mile from SIL's parents and 11 miles from us. Inevitably the other GPs see a bit more of the children because it is so easy for them to pop in; and to start with I found that hard. SIL does quite a bit of work with his Dad so he is in and out all the time.

But....we have cornered the market in certain things that we do with the children, especially the older one. We are the ones that do music with him, read to him, discuss the universe (OH's territory) etc. - generally he does quiet things when he is with us and noisy ones with the other GPs. We have instituted certain rituals that relate to him being here and create a sense of security for him and give him something to look forward to when he comes.

It is so important not to compete, but to make sure that some of what you offer fills gaps in what others offer. It is certainly not about money or material things - it is about secure enjoyable rituals that make visiting a treat and a pleasure.

Your DD did rather mess up over the birthday. If the other GM is chirpy and forceful your DD probably just went with the flow and did not think - when you pointed out the problem she probably had a niggling sense of guilt (as someone else has suggested) - so I think that least said soonest mended now, as so often in these situations.

You are not just a babysitter - you are someone precious who can make their own unique contribution to this little chap's life and sense of security - and can give him lovely times to remember. It is about having confidence in what you can offer and not allowing yourself to feel intimidated by the other chaps who (nauseatingly) seem to have "done everything right." I am surprised that they did not make sure you were inviterd to the celebration straight away - not such great chaps then maybe?

jO5 Tue 20-Nov-12 15:02:57

I remember once, when GS1 was about two, we were looking through an album of recent family photos. We came to a photo of Nanny (the other granny) and he leaned forward and kissed her flipping picture!

I was green!

blush grin

harrigran Tue 20-Nov-12 15:12:41

I agree with NannaJeannie it is your job to give of your time. You should not be taking umbrage over something as minor as where a party is held. I do not expect DIL to consult me over where GC's party will be unless I am footing the entire bill. Life is too short to be jealous of the other GPs, each set are unique, embrace the difference. I would not argue with DD life is stressful enough trying to juggle jobs and chilcare. Enjoy your GC, don't spoil it.

Smoluski Tue 20-Nov-12 15:24:51

Chirpy granny is just one portion of little ones life,you are another,and with mummy and daddy you all make one whole,each person may be an individual but collectively you ALL are his whole worldxxxxfergie flowers love nellie

tanith Tue 20-Nov-12 15:31:17

We all bring something different into our Grandchildrens lives, which is a good thing is it not? You will only be sidelined or left out if you let it happen.. the other grandparents can't help their circumstances anymore than you can just be glad they are in your grandchilds life and are supportive. They will appreciate you all for different reasons..

jO5 Tue 20-Nov-12 15:44:16

Don'ty try too hard though. It's tiring. And it doesn't work. Just be yourself. Including shouting when you need to.

soop Tue 20-Nov-12 15:57:59

Wise words, as usual. NellieSmol smile

Marelli Tue 20-Nov-12 16:09:29

Go with the flow, Fergie. I do recognise the feeling of not being as 'interesting' as the 'other' grandma! I was always working shifts when the DGD's were young and had little input regarding babysitting etc until my job changed and I was able to look after them while their own mother did shifts. However, I used to gather up odd things such as old aluminium teapots, and clocks, dressing-up clothes and hats that had sequins and net, - just odd bits and pieces - and I kept them in an old suitcase. The DGD's made a beeline for it when they came visiting, and even now, in their 20's they still talk about it!
Your DD may just be finding it hard to say what she really feels to her MiL, but seems to be 'dismissive' of you. There's every chance that she just didn't think - and your own need to talk about your feelings might make her feel as if she's needed and that's perhaps more than she can deal with at the moment? Try to stay steady and available? She won't just be seeing you as a babysitter - she'll be worrying about all sorts of things to do with her financial situation etc - just as many of us have had to do. There are times when we feel a bit vulnerable, though - as you are feeling now. It'll settle, without a doubt. flowers

annodomini Tue 20-Nov-12 17:00:54

You 'can't compete' - well, competition isn't the issue. Two sets of GPs competing materially would probably make for a rather spoilt GC! Your input is on your own terms and there are plenty of suggestions already on this thread. The important thing is that you can give your little GS all the love and emotional support in the world. Have fun with him. smile

NannaJeannie Tue 20-Nov-12 17:20:32

Mishap has put it far more eloquently than me, 'corner the market' is what I meant with a toy box and nursery rhymes, you will be repaid a million times over when DGS asks for the first time for you to re-sing a nursery rhyme.

Our DGS could hardly talk, but he loved listening to my inane singing, then he said 'York!' which of course meant 'would you please sing the grand old duke of york again nanna please'

Granny23 Tue 20-Nov-12 17:39:05

Not often I agree with JO5 grin but on this occasion I think she is spot on when she advises 'be yourself'. If there is one thing children pick up on, from an early age, it is falseness in relationships. They just know who really loves them and will readily accept that you are sometimes cross, as long as it is not all the time!

Fergie I have often felt that I was left out of the loop as far as arrangements for celebrations, days out, etc. were concerned. DD1, apologising once again for 'forgetting' to tell me the arrangements, explained that she tends to think I will already know as I am so much part of the family. I can remember my own mother complaining that I was the same, took her for granted, which was true as I had to tread on egg shells with my VERY difficult MIL and just expected my DM to fit in with any arrangements made to suit MIL. Maybe an element of that with your DD?

Nonu Tue 20-Nov-12 18:05:37

Children can never have too much love .

Nonu Tue 20-Nov-12 18:07:40

Whever it comes from .

kittylester Tue 20-Nov-12 18:14:59

I suspect that we are the 'other grandparents' to all our grandchildren but I put that down to our 'natural' grandchildren (as opposed to our 'step' grandchildren, who are older) having our daughters as their mothers! Although, our girls are very concerned to be fair to their MiLs and I try to make sure they are too.

I think that it is important, as others have said, to be special for something not just buying presents. My 4 year old granddaughter loves musicals (can't imagine where she gets that from!! grin) and that is our special thing to do together. Currently, we can both recite 'Beauty and the Beast' word for word, including the adverts!! She then acts it out for me - such fun! sunshine

glammanana Tue 20-Nov-12 18:18:56

Fergie does your DD feel she has to do as MIL suggests after living with them for so long,maybe your DD feels she has to show MIL how well she looks after her son and grandchild,your DD may not feel she has anything to prove to you as you give unconditional support just the same as all mums do with their DDs your DD will know this and has just had a "baby brain moment" not thinking to keep you in the loop something which I think has not been done intentionally,your DGC will be delighted in the future with learning rhymes and songs when in your charge and will certainly enjoy your Nanna input to his future