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Boundaries and "knowing my place"

(73 Posts)
Philippa60 Wed 26-Jun-19 10:30:23

This topic and questions have been brewing in my mind for some time - would love to hear from Grans on this site...
Our adult D lives very close by and has 3 kids, our GKs are now aged 10, 7 and 5. Until about a year and a half ago, D's life was very tough and unsettled with her quite serious health issues and marriage almost breaking up, as well as trying to hold down a demanding job as a corporate lawyer including a difficult commute.
During this whole period we acted as back-up parents and were VERY involved in the kids' daily life. It was exhausting but became the focus of my life, despite having my own busy career and active social life.
It was more difficult for H due to his depression and generally lower level of engagement with the kids, but we managed.
Fast forward to today and her life is much much better. Her health is better, her marriage too, and she's negotiated a working from home arrangement so she doesn't have the stress of the commute.
All good, right?
So why I am feeling this way?
I feel bereft - I guess I am now a "normal" Grandmother, not a replacement Mum, and there are definitely advantages to that! But I miss the kids, the daily involvement, and feel like I've been put back in my place as a Grandmother.
I used to know everything that was going on in the kids' life, but now I am much more removed from it.
I know this is all good, but I find myself trying to negotiate more time with them and D pushing back on me. I understand - from her perspective she needs to re-establish the boundaries!
Added issue is that H is up and down like a yoho and I think I have used the kids as a replacement source of joy in my life when things with him are so difficult.
Anyway sorry for the venting - but if anyone has any suggestions of how to fix my hear, I'd love to hear!

Philippa60 Wed 26-Jun-19 10:32:16

Sorry, typo, I meant "fix my *head"!

Gonegirl Wed 26-Jun-19 10:36:14

I thought you meant "fix my heart".

Gonegirl Wed 26-Jun-19 10:36:53

No answers I'm afraid. Feeling too bloody down myself. I wish you all the best.

MawBroonsback Wed 26-Jun-19 10:38:52

I think you realise all too well where the problem lies when you say you are now a “normal grandmother “and not a “replacement mum”.

Now you have to show that you realise that to your D by taking a big step back (however hard) - be busy, be unavailable, be friendly but not pushy. Make it clear that you do have a life, while not being stand offish, let them make the first approaches.
Don’t do the following!
I know this is all good, but I find myself trying to negotiate more time with them and D pushing back on me. I understand - from her perspective she needs to re-establish the boundaries
This does not mean you are disappearing from their lives, but “knowing everything that was going on in the kids’ lives” is not going to be the case. By stepping back you make it possible for your D to step forwards - towards you.
Good luck!

MawBroonsback Wed 26-Jun-19 10:39:56

Gonegirl flowers - you sound as if you need them.

Gonegirl Wed 26-Jun-19 10:41:24

Thanks Maw. Will shift my ar-- and get on with something. Yawn.

Bridgeit Wed 26-Jun-19 10:43:02

Your talents would be welcomed & appreciated as a volunteer at any charity. Best wishes

PamelaJ1 Wed 26-Jun-19 10:53:13

I think it’s natural for you to be feeling a bit bereft.
My DGS and DD will not need me so much in the future.
I’m loving the input I am having now and value that time.
I know it won’t be for much longer. They do move on

Your DD and grandchildren will have benefitted hugely from your time and energy. Now you have to find a way forward for you. You have a life too, one that includes them but gives you value in a different way.

Urmstongran Wed 26-Jun-19 10:59:51

You’ve done a sterling job. Back off gratefully now grandma! Surely the wonderful thing here to focus on is the fact that your daughter has now regained her health.

If you continue to inveigle yourself you risk undermining her new found confidence.

I do feel for you but I think you ought to embrace this ‘next stage’ of your life by whatever routes available to you. x

crazyH Wed 26-Jun-19 11:11:08

I am in the same position. GC , who I looked after since they were born are now 16 and 17 years old. I have been made redundant. My daughter hardly rings because she doesn't need me anymore. As a matter of fact, right now she's on her high horse, because I made very negative comments about her ex-husband who she still holds a candle for and gives him money etc. Her ex is a golf addict. He is self employed and during the summer he hardly works. It is what it us and if she is upset that I used choice terms to describe her lazy exhusband, then so be it
Gone girl, you sound low...join the club - flowers for you .

Philippa60 Wed 26-Jun-19 11:39:24

Thank you all - I know you are right, I guess I needed to hear it from someone objective....
I like the idea of being less pushy towards her and stepping back and hope that means she will step forward towards us more....
Right now I feel like I am a nag and I hate it about myself.
The ironic thing though is that when I am NOT available, she gets cross - can't win, I guess!
Thanks for the advice and I wish you and all of us peace and happiness in our relationships with our kids and GKids

Nanabilly Wed 26-Jun-19 11:49:55

I would suggest to try and do some forward planning and now is the ideal time to do it with the long summer holiday coming up. Get together with your daughter and ask her what ,if any , days she might need you to have the children so that you don't go and double book yourself . This will give you something to look forward to and prevent her getting peed off if you are not available when she wants you to be.
Good luck . These mothers just don't know how can lucky they are to have a nana who can't get enough of her grandchildren . I'm one of them too .

Gonegirl Wed 26-Jun-19 11:52:43

Thanks CrazyH. smile

MawBroonsback Wed 26-Jun-19 11:53:27

I imagine that because you have always been available up till now your D has assumed she has first dibs on your life.
Rather than let her get cross, (not that she has any right to) a smile and the suggestion that you might need a bit more notice another time, or that you sit down together with diaries/calendars and pencil in possible dates.
Remember to sound regretful if you are unavailable and with luck you will reach a compromise (if only! My experience is that the guikt you feel when you can’t help out is hard to shake off - but stand firm!)
Of course none of the above applies to emergencies!

stella1949 Wed 26-Jun-19 11:55:18

I can empathise entirely OP. I'm the "mother figure" for my son's children - he is a single parent and relies on me for all the school runs, school communication with teachers, etc, children's health care etc. For 5 years I've been like a surrogate mother and like you, I know what is going on every day. If this ever stops I'll be bereft !

Your daughter is obviously enjoying being the Mum again, and working from home means she is there for them all the time. She wants to re-draw the boundaries and you're the one who is suffering .

You were the centre of their lives and now you're back on the periphery like most grandparents are ! Luckily for you, you've recognised what is going on and you're taking steps to normalise things. Keep smiling, nodding and agreeing with DD - things will soon go back to the normal mother / grandmother / children picture. Good luck !

Anja Wed 26-Jun-19 12:20:21

This happens anyway as the grandchildren get older. Why not offer to have them overnight when next day isn’t a school night.

It’s good fun letting them stay up a bit later and having them there in the morning for breakfast.

Luckygirl Wed 26-Jun-19 12:37:26

I really empathise with one aspect of OP's post - I am fully aware that the DGC act as an antidote to my OH and his situation - he is very unwell and disabled, depressed and anxious. The GC are like a breath of fresh air to me and help to keep me sane. But the littlest one will be at school in September so a lot of that contact will dwindle - except of course for the school hols.

OP - things have been distorted by circumstances and it will take a bit of time for it all to bed down into a new normality. I have come to the conclusion that one of the central themes of human existence is that of letting go - we have to learn the art of doing so with a good grace in so many spheres of life.

I wish you lots of luck with this transition; and I hope your OH is getting treatment for his problems - I know only too well how draining this can be on a partner.

Gonegirl Wed 26-Jun-19 12:40:31

Luckygirl your comment about letting go is sad and wise in equal measure. Very true though. Just so hard.

sodapop Wed 26-Jun-19 12:45:58

You should be very proud of what you have achieved Phillipa60 helping your daughter and her family to regain their independence as such a difficult period in their lives. Give yourself a pat on the back and then start looking at all the fun things you can start doing now.

EllanVannin Wed 26-Jun-19 13:03:44

Lost, empty and useless springs to mind when the day comes that you're no longer needed in the way you once were.
Stepping back is hard but is a necessary evil if you want to maintain a good relationship but also stepping back to where you once were and giving all that time to a husband who is not in the best of health can be foreboding to say the least.
You'll get through this eventually but it'll be a slow and sometimes hurtful journey.

Day6 Wed 26-Jun-19 13:20:11

I have come to the conclusion that one of the central themes of human existence is that of letting go - we have to learn the art of doing so with a good grace in so many spheres of life

Yes indeed Luckygirl. I am in a situation where this applies and am finding it hard, but it makes such sense.

In many threads to do with relationships and bonds the wisest advice always seems to be 'back off' whilst being available and open to opportunities, and I think this applies to you Philippa

You sound as if you have a busy life, so If I were you I'd immerse myself in that (whilst licking my wounds) and enjoy the freedom from always having to be there for the grandchildren. It must be hard but try and delight in your daughter's better situation and the fact she is more able now to take over, thanks to you. (I am happy when my children's lives run smoothly, anxious for them when they are troubled in any way - I am sure you are relieved too.)

It must be hard to see less of the grandchildren, but try to see the new set up as a good thing. Your grandchildren will still love you and may appreciate you all the more because they see you less often.

Perhaps you'll have more time to concentrate on your DH's health and seek better treatment for him, so that he can be a more involved husband. If his depression lifts your home life will be easier too. I hope time will do some healing for you. flowers

Philippa60 Wed 26-Jun-19 13:21:15

What wonderful posts and such warm and excellent advice. You are truly kind people to be so supportive to me.
I am reading and re-reading all of the posts and they are really helping me to feel better, thank you!

BlueBelle Wed 26-Jun-19 13:28:30

It’s a bit like retirement I m not really needed now except every now and again and I don’t hear much news or involvement except again now and then but honestly it’s really how it should be, but a bit of a shock at first

When my big 18 year old grandson meets me in the street and still bends to give me a kiss and a cuddle I know it ok really
Fill your life with other things and slip into the grandma role and let mum reclaim her motherhood as she should
Good luck

Namsnanny Wed 26-Jun-19 14:23:57

Really I can’t get away from the gut feeling that it’s not about grans knowing their place.
Surely it’s not a competition from which we are all supposed to know when to ‘step back’?
Doesn’t anyone think that this is one of life’s opportunities for a d or dil, and a a or sil to apply a little understanding and kindness to the situation?
Why is it so hard for others to put themselves into grans position for a millisecond and show some kindness and common sense!
It’s like any new phase in life, it works out better when a little thoughtfulness is applied.

Hope my view doesn’t annoy anyone...not my intention I’m probably a little disappointed in some of the younger generation sad