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Seeing adult children over Christmas

(104 Posts)
Mynxie Wed 29-Dec-21 08:08:38

I’d really like to know if I am being unreasonable! My son and his family live about 100 miles from me. Twice in early December I willingly traveled up to their house to babysit our grandchildren (6 and 2) and stayed overnight whilst my DS and DIL met up with friends and stayed out all night in a hotel.
When it came to meeting for Christmas (even just for a meal) the earliest they can fit me in is the end of February as they say they have so much on until then. I feel sad as they are staying with his dad all over the new year (he left me for OW when my son was 4) but cannot find time to see me. I raised him on my own after his dad left and we used to be very close. AIBU to feel so hurt and upset?

Silvertwigs Thu 30-Dec-21 10:50:56

MacCavity2. You are so right in what you say as are all the other posts. It can be so hurtful but I accept my daughter has her own life and now my 19 and 24 yr old GC do too. So I make my own plans and I’m much happier

jaylucy Thu 30-Dec-21 11:00:21

Maybe next year when they need a babysitter you can sort of pre empt this by arranging or suggesting that for the nearest "booking" to Christmas , you have a pre Christmas meal out or at least a meal together by staying over a weekend or including a weekend when you could take the GC out to one of the Christmas displays/see the lights etc?
Following that, you could always arrange an "UnChristmas/ New Year get together in January or February and perhaps suggest that your ex joins in with the whole thing on alternate years so that you both spend time with your DS and family over New Year.
I see no reason why you can't explain to your son about how disappointed you are for this year - sons can blissfully ignore other people's (and especially their mum's) feelings when events are concerned!

JPB123 Thu 30-Dec-21 11:07:18

I know exactly how you feel.My daughter came and stayed at Christmas for one day but became poorly with a virus and was in bad for 5 days.I waited on her hand and foot ( as we do ) took her puppy out on long walks to give him his routine.I was up at 6.30 every day because that’s what he’s used to! Then she upped and left, said she was better and they went back home.I know she needed the rest but she’s not at work till Jan 4th.She lives a mile away and I loved the company .It highlighted my loneliness….

Blondie49 Thu 30-Dec-21 11:07:20

Yes I would be hurt if it was me. Have been there and got the t shirt , now I see them ( 2 children living in different parts of country, not near me ) when it suits us both through the year and for me Xmas/ new year is just part of year. Same with phone calls I learned not everyone thinks or needs same connection, so again I phone once a week if they don’t reply , I just send a text wishing them lovely weekend and get on with my life. This approach has worked well for us all I think and I don’t get left feeling the victim. Often wonder if it has helped the fact I was an only one with no wider family and have always just had to get on and deal with things on my own.

HealthyGrannie Thu 30-Dec-21 11:07:36

I can relate Mynxie, I also brought my son up alone but recently have been coming to terms with letting him manage his family and their busy lives. I have worked through my feelings in therapy and come terms with my own goals and needs. I have become more reflective, introspective, creative and health conscious. When I hear other’s stories I realise how much I have to be grateful for.. Here is a poem I wrote the night I got home after succeeding in taking my grandchildren (3 & 6) to tea on Boxing Day since 2018.
My gratitude
My gratitude waits in the shadows
For hands to stop wringing with despair
She whispers “Thank you”
~ when worse happening pass on by.
She ushers stormy clouds on their way
And patiently waits
her turn to appear behind a rainbow..

5together Thu 30-Dec-21 11:11:33

YANBU, but for the sake of harmony I’d say nothing now and move forward with the plans for your February get together. When that does happen, perhaps take the opportunity there and then to bag your Christmas 2022 slot, making it clear that you very much missed seeing them this Christmas and it is an important time to you to see family. You mentioned your generosity in time and gifts - I would be careful about things you have given and expectation of time spent-we each choose what we give, but a gift should be free of expectations of what we might get in return, so try to separate those things, hard though it might be. Big hugs. I have had all 3 (single) AC here this Christmas and felt very lucky. I know I will find it hard when other people become their priority, as I also hope will happen, but also hope that they will still find time for me!

grannygranby Thu 30-Dec-21 11:14:58

It’s horribly unfair.. life is. The only thing you can do in the face of such harsh treatment is distance yourself emotionally. Do your grandmotherly duty if you enjoy it and stop depending on them for your emotional health. This is not easy, it is essential when you are happiest being with yourself and not dependent on others you will find peace. Its either that or be disrespected and masochistic which is not favourable. Firmer boundaries and resistance to pleasing others thinking your just reward will come. Usually people just learn to take advantage. I hope for your sake you can free yourself from their unthoughtful ways and you won’t leap back when they come a begging. A complete change of behaviour from them would be necessary possible but improbable. Keep it light and distant. Been there done it.

rafichagran Thu 30-Dec-21 11:19:54

I would be less available when they need me. You are being taken for granted.
As for saying the earliest we can FIT you in is February, is disgraceful, you are not something to be fit in.
You have done so much for them, and they are disrespectful.

Lollipop1 Thu 30-Dec-21 11:21:53

I'm trying to remember back 50 years, when my boys were little and I don't remember considering anybody but my immediate family, buying food, toys, sending cards etc. Parties with friends took precedence over family gatherings as we got our freedom so infrequently. Selfish, thoughtless but not deliberate. I'm older and grandmother to five, I wait my turn and do what I can to help.
Cut them some slack, its most probably not intentional but busy people, busy lives.

Peff68 Thu 30-Dec-21 11:26:55

This is awful situation and fully sympathise with you. Kids can be thoughtless sometimes, I think sometimes you have the right to tell people they’ve hurt your feelings though. February seems long way off what on earth is more important to them in January that you couldn’t visit then?

On the babysitting question, perhaps next time offer to have them bring the kids to you to have, or even have regular bi-monthly stay overs at your home for the grandchildren.

coastalgran Thu 30-Dec-21 11:31:40

As you said they are adults and as such have made their own choices about who they see, when they see them and why. You need to get on with your own life and don't travel to look after their children unless you want to, never do it thinking that they will be grateful or feel obliged to visit you in return. It doesn't work like that. Be pleased to see them when it is a mutually agreed visit and don't make it all a competition.

bevisp1 Thu 30-Dec-21 11:34:03

You are not being unreasonable at all. I think the cheek of it that your adult son can treat you like this, can’t see you until before February.
I’ve had a similar thing with my youngest adult son - 28. He lives about 6-8 miles from me, has a busy lifestyle, works in hospitality so it’s a precarious situ at mo with omicron and no restrictions! His recently new girlfriend who is lovely. Anyhow I met up with him early December, Xmas was one of the things we discussed. His Xmas day was with his g/f families so all mixing about 8-10 of them. I offered the two of them to come to us Boxing Day, (this is better than not at all), his response was shall we just wipe out Xmas?? Thinking he meant presents, I responded by well no it’s xmas. I also mentioned that as any variant of covid takes off when infections rate rockets sky high I started getting anxious about mixing. I stated that if things got worse leading up to Christmas I might cancel out Boxing Day, really because of his mixing with so many people Xmas day & he also was going planning of going out pubbing Xmas eve. He took the cancellation of Boxing Day well, something if I look back he may have felt relieved about, then to be told that Boxing Day he was going to spend with his g/f dad and family. My irritation is that now I think he only wanted to ‘wipe out Christmas ‘ with me and hubby because he was finding it hard to fit us in?? I may be wrong, I realise he was prepared to see us Boxing Day but I cancelled. So I shouldn’t be feeling the way I do. I do feel hurt by it. I haven’t heard from him since Christmas Day wishing us a happy Christmas. We were invited to his works for NYE, but being pub/bar/restaurant it would be so busy we declined this offer, but all his g/f families will be going. I feel hard done by and left out of my son’s life for her family. It hurts, it sucks!!

Smudgie Thu 30-Dec-21 11:36:22

I so agree with grannygranbys earlier post. It is spot on. I would never have treated my parents and lovely in-laws with such thoughtless behaviour but I'm afraid it's now the norm for this generation to be totally selfish until they want something from you; I've been there and got the T shirt!, so have quite a few of my friends.
I can't go along with turning the other cheek in case they get upset, we are not doormats and are entitled to respect. You are most certainly not being unreasonable and I really feel for you; personally I would not be booking my "slot" with them next year, as to me that looks needy. Take care of yourself, buy something nice, be emotionally strong and forthright and if they don't like it, tough!

Daisydaisydaisy Thu 30-Dec-21 11:36:55

No you arent being u arent unreasonable ...I agree with Redhead if they ask you to babysit say that arent available on that date but happy to help at a later date x

Daisydaisydaisy Thu 30-Dec-21 11:37:31


Withnail Thu 30-Dec-21 11:41:18

Did you love staying over & being with the grandchildren? I bet they loved having you there. They obviously trust you & are happy to leave them in your care. Focus on the positive. You are very special & valued. Only dov what you want to do, with good grace, then you will never be disappointed.

abby0950 Thu 30-Dec-21 11:49:13

There is a saying which I have found to be so true. “A son is a son until he takes a wife, but a daughter, is a daughter, all her life”.

I would be very upset with this too. You need to start saying “no” when they ask you to help with their busy lifestyle as they appear to be able to fit in those they want to socialise with.

dragonfly46 Thu 30-Dec-21 11:54:05

I used to be upset that my DiL's parents took precedence over us at Christmas. Her father has a new wife and her mother is on her own and never the twain shall meet. Two years ago it was Dad's turn, last year Mums and this year Dad again.

I stopped expecting to see them and when we went down in early December I took their presents making it clear I was not expecting to go to them at Christmas.

On Christmas night though this year I got a text from my son saying that he had had an exhausting day and next year he wanted us to go down for Christmas so things can change.

Don't put pressure on them, don't stop baby sitting and being supportive - things can change and you want to keep the moral high ground.

Dabi Thu 30-Dec-21 11:57:01

What's new?
Happens all the time.
Just be grateful they aren't homeless and have to live with you 24/7. Like everything else in life, focus on the good bits and ignore the rough. But you already know that. wink

Seajaye Thu 30-Dec-21 12:01:10

It is hurtful and disappointing for you especially if you were on your own, but I expect it is just thoughtlessness in their part coupled with a busy life style. I suggest If you do not have a birthday coming up soon, you get an Easter event in the family calendar early on, and plan something an Easter Egg hunt in your garden, if you have on for the grandchildren to look forward to. My grandchildren look forward to this every year. You can buy chocolate egg hunt kits in most supermarkets, but you can include hidden fluffy chick and bunny toys if you don't want to give the grandchildren too much chocolate. If the children are older you can write clues like a treasure hunt. Going forwards I think it can be helpful to ask " what are we doing for Christmas this year' fairly early on and if you are not going to get a visit on either if the main days, get a substitute event in the calendar as a back up plan each year, as alternating Xmas arrangements between separated parents and in laws are inevitable for very many families..

Emelle Thu 30-Dec-21 12:04:52

Mynxie - I understand and sympathise with you! I had a similar experience a couple of years ago and it took me time to get over it. I think you have to do what you feel is best for you. I made myself less available for child minding duties to make the point and I think the penny dropped eventually. Our relationship is back on an even keel now but I am sadly still a little cautious about committing too much.

abby0950 - I have heard this saying many times but strangely I am much closer to my son than either of my two DDs.

Kryptonite Thu 30-Dec-21 12:19:39

Giving till it hurts. That's what some of us do just so we can see our family and GC. Even when we know we're being used and have to be grateful for any crumbs on offer. I would be so hurt in your situation. Then you see all the happy pictures on social media of what you're missing. So hard. Sounds like you're missing out on the fun times, which is unfair. Perhaps you could try explaining that to them and that you would like those sort of memories too, as well as babysitting tasks. Could you find some things in their local area where you can all have a day out together? And yes, get in early for next Chrstmas with plans that include you. We once had Christmas at our house a few days early, and it was every bit as magical as the 25th would have been. Meanwhile, have hobbies and interests of your own. This is so important as I have found myself and will distract you from the crushing feelings of hurt and rejection. xx

LovelyLady Thu 30-Dec-21 12:21:52

Enjoy the crumbs that are thrown your way. It’s not easy saying this but it’s how I am. My grandchildren live very near and I see them often. Their other grandparents live 250 miles away and see them once or twice a year. Please don’t reject baby sitting opportunities, soon they will be grown and you will not be needed, that’s when it’s lonely. We’re fortunate having family.
Modern language can be disappointing and ‘fitting you in’ is not pleasant to digest. Just love them for what they are. Hugs to you from me.

HannahLoisLuke Thu 30-Dec-21 12:29:56

A few other GNs have commented that you saw them twice in early December but you didn’t really as they were spending the nights in an hotel. I’d quietly say I couldn’t do it next time they ask and have some fictional or real plans ready to trot out.
They might appreciate you more if you’re not so available.

Suzey Thu 30-Dec-21 12:35:27

You feel used and rightly so