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'Empty Nest Syndrome Part 2'

(29 Posts)
ElsieJoy Sun 07-Oct-12 07:49:12

I have twin grandaughters who live just round the corner from me, the rest of my family are miles away so I see them rarely. When my daughter and son-in-law had the twins I was very involved with helping and I looked after them for one whole day a week once my daughter had stopped breast feeding them at about three months. I continued to look after them one day a week until they went off to school at four and a half...then i went with them! Was a classroom assistant in the Reception Class for five years . Continued to have girlies for tea one day a week...and still do.

Then there was the helping out during school holidays/evenings/whenever needed etc as both daughter and son in law work, (daughter part time)

However, since September things have changed a lot...they are now nearly fourteen and puberty and sibling rivalry hit big time during school holidays and Grandma is now 'old' and someone they laugh at behind my back and don't want to come to tea each week preferring to go to friends or a much younger Aunt who now has a baby.

OK...all this is perfectly normal and a necessary part of them establishing their independence and so it should be...but why do I feel so bereft? Reminds me of when my last child zoomed off to University full of hope and new ideas.

I know I will eventually get used to this new chapter in our lives but at the moment I don't like it and feel so old and abandoned.

Did anyone else feel like this?

JessM Sun 07-Oct-12 08:39:19

Of course your feelings are normal and of course they are changing want to go and spend time with a new baby and friends.
Maybe you need to tell them in an adult manner that you are feeling sad and lonely the last few weeks and would like to have an arrangement with them (separately if they want) to see them - so that you have something to look forward to regularly. Maybe they would each like to visit separately, and bring a friend of their choice? Or maybe there is some new interest you could take up with one or both of them. Do you cook for them for instance, or do you teach them to cook something for you? I have a young friend around after tea sometimes and he likes nothing better than doing some cooking.

Bags Sun 07-Oct-12 10:38:53

You have my sympathies, elsiejoy, and I hope you can work through this change in your life and become less sad about it. I don't agree with jess's suggestion that you tell them about your sadness/loneliness. At least, I wouldn't do that because I'm not sure it would be fair to burden them with that. That is just my feeling; other grans may disagree.

harrigran Sun 07-Oct-12 11:30:30

I agree Bags serves no purpose to tell GDs how upset you are. This is life, you bring children up to be independent so do not be surprised when they do their own thing.

tanith Sun 07-Oct-12 11:36:53

I agree its just something we have to learn to deal with as our families grow and get families of their own and start their own traditions . I wouldn't tell them either, they would just visit out of guilt and that's not what I'd want. I've found as they got into their 20's they do tend to come back , for advise or even the odd sausage sandwich on a busy Saturday morning lol!

Greatnan Sun 07-Oct-12 11:46:43

I have never felt the empty-nest feeling. One of my daughters is eagerly looking forward to the day when the last of her six children goes off to university in five years time. She loves them all dearly and has been a wonderful mother, and grandmother, but she and her husband have lots of exciting plans about things they want to do. On the other hand, my other daughter is fighting tooth and nail to keep her adult children at home, but she has no partner and they are her only social contact.
Your grand-daughters will almost certainly come back to you once they have got through this stage of their lives. I now have lots of contact with my eldest grand-daughter, now she is a mother herself, but I would not have expected her to visit me when she was involved in school, sport, boys, and girl friends.
I agree it would not be a good idea to make them feel they have to visit you as a duty. As for laughing at you behind your back - my children and grandchildren have been doing that for years - I just laugh with them when I find out about it. It is a sign of love!

JessM Sun 07-Oct-12 12:03:16

On the other hand ... is it treating them as children and being over protective if we admit to having feelings?
Lots of us have fallen into this trap I am sure, and then we complain along the lines of "they don't remember my birthday" etc
Are we maybe too child centred and protective and not treating them as young adults? While behaving like we have no feelings?
I am not suggesting a heavy guilt trip. Just something fairly light along the lines of

"I've been really missing you both since the start of term. I know you're both enjoying seeing the baby etc. I'd love it though if we could make a regular arrangement to meet once every couple of weeks."

Bags Sun 07-Oct-12 12:08:58

I still wouldn't domthat, jess. It's not because of their age. I wouldn't tell anyone that I wanted them to visit me because I was sad and lonely. I'd probably invite them to come and say things along the lines of how nice it is to see them, looking forward to chatting, etc. Age has nothing to do with it. I wouldn't complain about not getting birthday cards either. I just don't think that's fair on anyone.

I agree with others who say we just have to get used to younguns moving on and, sometimes, out of our lives.

Greatnan Sun 07-Oct-12 12:32:19

I sometimes don't hear from my many gc for weeks on end - then I just send them a pm or e-mail, saying what I have been doing myself and mentioning something their mum has told me about their activities. They always reply at once with a nice, chatty message.

harrigran Sun 07-Oct-12 12:38:25

I used to get this from my sister when mine were little. "If you can't be bothered to visit our parents at least send the children they are big enough to make an effort". Usually people do not visit relatives for a very good reason and not because they just can't be bothered.

gracesmum Sun 07-Oct-12 12:46:30

The phrase that hurts for me is "laugh at me behind my back" I think I would want to back off and give them their space for a bit. Our girls, as far as I know, may have teased Granny gently to her face (and she took it in good part) but never behind her back.
Though now I come to think of it, there was the occasion they made a jar of "squidgy Grannies" from cut up toes of tights and cotton wool with faces drawn on them which we thought was hilarious but Granny was not amused! oops smile

JessM Sun 07-Oct-12 12:47:40

I take your point bags and it is a valid argument. However if taken to its extreme no member of the younger generation will feel any responsibility for the welfare or feelings of their parents or grandparents. This is the opposite of cultures that venerate, respect and care for the old. Is that what we really want?

crimson Sun 07-Oct-12 13:14:31

ElsieJoy; I was only saying yesterday that I sat next to a mother, her daughter and her daughter's friend on the train yesterday, and throughout the whole journey no one spoke to each other and any attempts by the mother to start a conversation with them was ignored. They didn't even speak to each other [the two girls, that is]. I'd imagine that your two grandaughters are of a similar age and it's probably not just you that are pushed out of their lives [unless, of course you try to start a relationship that is conducted via their phones or i wotsits]. They are a strange breed, teenage girls these days. I do understand about the empty nest thing; I suffered terribly when my daughter left home [even though she was only 20 minutes away and came home most weekends]; I'd defined myself by my children I suppose. They'll come back to you, one day I believe.

Greatnan Sun 07-Oct-12 13:29:21

I think the reason that teenagers don't visit as often as they did when they were children is just because their brains are wired differently, and prey to raging hormones. It is no reflection on their older relatives and it will pass.

My mother was very prickly and quick to take offence, so my daughters were careful not to laugh at some of the daft things she said in front of her, but they would certainly have a giggle behind her back.
I don't mind my family taking the mickey out of me - perhaps it is a a self-confidence thing.
When I landed in Auckland, one gd put a message on Facebook - 'Big bird has landed' - apparently a reference to a remark I once made when I had imbibed a drink or two that I ate like a bird. I was about 12 stone at the time. Apparently, all ten of them refer to me ever since as 'Big bird'. I thought it was affectionate.

Nanadogsbody Sun 07-Oct-12 13:33:18

My 6-year old grandson asked to spend yesterday with me as he 'misses the days we used to do things together before I went to school'. But I'd be a tad worried if he wanted that in ten years time.
Let them go, they will most likely come back to you as crimson says.

(And just in case it takes a while why not develop a new interest with some street cred? Free fall parachuting, roller blading, etc?)

Any crazy GNettters out there with unusual/crazy/life threatening enhancing hobbies?

ElsieJoy Sun 07-Oct-12 13:37:01

done all your suggestions!! It is just something that I have to adjust to.

Greatnan Sun 07-Oct-12 13:39:20

I don't know if it qualifies as crazy, but my hobby is snorkeling on coral, and in pursuit of that I have travelled several times to different islands in the Caribbean, to Malaysia, Thailand, the Maldives and five times to Egypt.
I also taught all my gc to roller skate - my ex husband and I were keen dance skaters.
I have enjoyed white water rafting too.
I scramble up very steep, unmade paths in the Alps, where I live.
My next challenge is learning to do cross-country skiing - under the able tuition of Juragran who lives just 'round the lake' (Geneva) in Switzerland.
My family know that, much as I love them, I don't depend on them for company - good job, as most of them live in New Zealand and the rest in England.

ElsieJoy Sun 07-Oct-12 13:39:45

Agree that I don't want to put onus on to them, would not want them, or my children for that matter visiting me out of duty. Just explained once that I was sad but pleased that they were growing up .

ElsieJoy Sun 07-Oct-12 13:44:11

We bring our children up to be independent free thinking responsible adults and i'm proud that all my three have achieved that...but sometimes I miss them all desperately and want the house filled again with them as they were...daft isn't it. They all have careers, families of their own and I'm extremely blessed to have daughter round the corner, many grandparents don't have that.

Looking back I never gave my parents a thought when we lived miles away from them and they rarely got to see me or my children, must have been so hard for my such things as SKYPE then...

ElsieJoy Sun 07-Oct-12 13:45:26

Oh I remember those gracesmum

ElsieJoy Sun 07-Oct-12 13:49:35

Have found that Facebook is a useful tool to chatting to one grandaughter in particular as she is not as 'forward' as her sister. They are non-identical twins, totally different in temperament, outlook and behaviour.

Remember how twins Mum and her sister behaved when they were teenagers...they absolutely hated each other....

Greatnan Sun 07-Oct-12 13:49:44

I have to give my sister and myself top marks for being attentive daughters. We both rang my mother every day until her dementia was too severe to take her calls. I lived abroad for many years but still never missed a day.
We also both took her on family holidays most years. She never offered to babysit or help in any way, and I never needed any financial help from her, although my sister did. Looking back we have both realised that she wasn't the wonderful mother we both thought she was but we adored her.

crimson Sun 07-Oct-12 13:51:49

My dad cried when I left home at 17; I'd never seen a man cry before. I never returned home and it was only when I had children of my own that I understood how much I'd hurt them. We have a piano in the living room. The thing I missed most when my daughter left was the sound of the piano being played sad. I've said before that I would give anything to turn the clock back and go back in time to spend one day just as we were. But we must move forwards and look on it as a kind of challenge I guess.

Bags Sun 07-Oct-12 14:07:43

Going back to encouraging a caring attitude in the young.... I think that is a separate issue from burdening them with the perhaps inevitable sadness we feel in having to let go when they want to spread their wings, and it is something they will have learned while growing up with us and watching our behaviour and how we care about other people's sadness or loneliness. Again, this is just how I feel about it. Others may think differently.

Greatnan Sun 07-Oct-12 14:11:32

I agree, Bags, example is better than precept!