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Granny in the corner

(155 Posts)
MawtheMerrier Tue 17-Jan-23 12:06:20

This is not a TAAT - but prompted by a thread about Christmas and reminded me of the “granny in the corner” experience.
I know many of you are incredibly active and play a pivotal part on the lives of your AC and DGC so I may be guilty of generalising.
But doesn’t there come a point where we cross over from providing all sorts of support to being “granny in the corner”.
However kind, inclusive welcoming our AC are, there’s a shift.
Sometimes I feel I am being unreasonable and want it “every which way” - to be needed, to be felt capable of taking over in an emergency, of going the extra mile in being there but then I find myself thinking Hang on, I’m 75, I haven’t got the energy or fitness I had and also, I have a life of my own, friends and activities which I can’t just drop at a moments notice to babysit (except in an emergency)
On re-reading that it does indeed sound very unreasonable!
But from being central to our family life when they were babies and young, I feel myself drifting outwards to that “corner” ! Being widowed doesn’t help because I have to form a social life of my own and perhaps (?) I am getting more set in my ways. I have friends who seem to “live through” their AC and GC , good luck to them, but IMO that way sadness lies because the little ones grow into big ones and while they may love and tolerate Granny, we are not central to their lives.
Sorry to go on, and if you have been, thanks for reading!

cornergran Wed 18-Jan-23 09:38:41

Roles change for sure. We’ve progressed with two from regular school holiday and emergency child care to occasional taxi. Now teenagers they have busy and frankly pressurised lives with divorced parents living in different counties. While we see them much less regularly when we do it feels meaningful as they chat opensly and constantly about their lives and we know care about us.

The young one has maternal family who share childcare, there’s an excellent rota with Aunts and other much younger grandparents. We often slept over and cared for him pre-school and do a very occasional few hours now plus the odd sleepover here. There can feel an element of over-care for us in that the 45-60 minute drive for a school run or pick up is viewed my his parents as being unreasonable. They aren’t wrong in a way, it would just be good to be asked if we agree. To be fair often we would!

Overall we’re happy enough with the transitions, roles have changed for sure, we had magical, special time with them all when they were younger. Time we all moved on as we must. We’re having a long and undoubtedly chaotic weekend all together later in the year, it will be expected we do the things they do. Will we? Can we? No idea but the expectation feels positive.

You know now and again I realise I don’t mind not having to spend ages clearing up after a manic craft session with two competitive and very messy girls or worry in case a little one experimenting with baby led weaning choked. This phase isn’t so bad.

henetha Wed 18-Jan-23 10:18:35

I'm definitely in that corner. At 85 all my grandchildren are well and truly grown up, the youngest being 20. I spent years child minding and baby sitting and missed it dreadfully at first. I felt so useless, but gradually came to appreciate the freedom really. They are all friendly with me and I love seeing them. They all keep in touch in varying degrees. I count myself very lucky to have been so close to my grandchildren.
The downside is that I do feel a bit useless and not-needed now. Sometimes I feel like a waste of space. But nothing lasts forever and we have to accept that.

jenpax Wed 18-Jan-23 13:49:30

I cant see a time when any of my DD will think I can sit and have drinks bought to me! I currently share my house with youngest DD and her three boys 12,5 and 4 two of the boys are ASD and as DD is a lone parent and a student nurse, I am expected to co parent, do most of the housework as well as holding down my job I am only in my late 50’s but am exhausted! The other DGC are 11,11,8 and a baby and also local but sadly I see little of them because of the demanding nature of the children with additional needs! To be honest I look forward to slowing down😱

SusieB50 Wed 18-Jan-23 14:30:11

I grew up with my granny literally “ in the corner ! “ She had her chair in the corner and no one would dream of sitting in it .She arrived to live with us at 73 my age now - but what a difference in those days . She was frail but helped out when she could and died at the great age of 94. She was very much part of my childhood . I’m not in the corner yet although I am exhausted after DD and the two youngest GC aged 11 and 6 visit with parents for weekends or “London short breaks!” But that is more down to the noise and chaos after living a solitary life. The older twin GC live nearby and I see them sporadically.
Love them all dearly , but it is definitely becoming a role reversal with my DC and in-laws DS was worried that I asked for my step ladder back he had borrowed ( probably deliberately) a month ago !

Oreo Wed 18-Jan-23 14:37:18


I cant see a time when any of my DD will think I can sit and have drinks bought to me! I currently share my house with youngest DD and her three boys 12,5 and 4 two of the boys are ASD and as DD is a lone parent and a student nurse, I am expected to co parent, do most of the housework as well as holding down my job I am only in my late 50’s but am exhausted! The other DGC are 11,11,8 and a baby and also local but sadly I see little of them because of the demanding nature of the children with additional needs! To be honest I look forward to slowing down😱

Wow, that’s a lot to handle jenpax but you’re far from being or feeling sidelined, tho I understand that sometimes you might wish you were! Seems you’re the rock for them all and sounds like you’re doing a great job, hard as it is.

JaneJudge Wed 18-Jan-23 14:42:29


My youngest grandchild aged 5
Wears me out, I'm putting myself in the corner


The posts on this thread make for interesting reading but I can't imagine any of you being granny in the corner, you are all formidable women

Sara1954 Wed 18-Jan-23 15:02:03

I’ve been where you are, and although it’s exhausting, and I sometimes wondered if there was light at the end of the tunnel, I do miss them now they have moved out.
There were definitely times when I despaired at the mess, the noise, the general chaos, but there are lots of happy memories of their time here, and would I do it again? Reluctantly, but yes of course.
You have additional problems to me, so good for you, I’m sure you are very much appreciated.

downtoearth Wed 18-Jan-23 18:39:33

I was 52 when my daughter died,and left me a 4year old grandaughter,my grandaughter is 24 next month,and I was 70 just after christmas.

I am still very much hands on,as she suffers with anxiety,she moved out last year on her birthday,I was hauling boxes etc up three flights of stairs.

A neighbour/ friend in a wheelchair relies on me to do things for him,he is 50.

I have a young grandaughter of 4,I dont see her very often,but we have fun when I do,in fact both grandaughters will be here at the weekend with my son,and the eldest stays weekends with me when she wants a rest,she works long hours.

I hosted christmas as I have done for the last 45 years,so creaky and waiting for new hip I maybe I still feel useful and needed,if only to vent or a shoulder to cry on.

Hopefully I shall be needed for years to come,the spirit is willing even if the flesh is week.

It is usually me dishing up food, teas and coffees to all and sundry.

M0nica Wed 18-Jan-23 20:04:55

We live and have always lived 200 miles from our grandchildren, so we have never been 'nurturing and babysitting' grand parents any way.

We have built up relationships with our grandchildren, who will be 13 & 16 this year, based on shared interests and doing things together, so that we have a happy relationship with them and I think the basis of a continuing relationship. Of course we will not see as much of them in the future as we do now (3 or 4 weeks a year), but DGD and I, at her insistance, had a shopping day out together last year and will have more, we have a similar taste in clothes and I treated her to lunch in an elegant restaurant, very French. DH has done the same over animals with DGS.

I think too often grandparents, especially grandmothers, go overboard over grandchildren when they are tiny and the grandchildren then have to struggle to get out from under grandmothers who mentally do not let them grow up and cpnstantly want to recreate it.

henetha Thu 19-Jan-23 09:50:06

With respect, MOnica, I don't agree with your last paragraph.
I don't think I have come across that kind of possessive grandmother. In my case, I am, and always have been, very careful to keep one step back and remain aware that our grandchildren are not actually our children.

MawtheMerrier Thu 19-Jan-23 10:04:26

I agree Henrtha - that is not to say the phenomenon M0nica describes does not exist, but is not my experience or that of most of my acquaintance.
The fact remains that we “drift” to the periphery of our AC’s lives as their own children fill that space. We have our own rightful place but it is a different one.
There is always a generational gap and the unhappy grandparents , or so it seems to me, are those who cannot accept that, who insist on either maintaining their matriarchal position or see themselves part of their AC’s social circle.
Does family always trump friendship? Most people would say yes, but our friends and siblings are of our generation and ageing like ourselves. I try to make the most of my peer friendship groups, but the time may (will?) come when they are fewer or gone altogether.
Having been a “coper” all my life, it is nice to feel care and that I am more looked after by my AC but it can also come as a bit of a shock!

Grandma70s Thu 19-Jan-23 10:11:35

I’ll be 83 next month and am very much granny in the corner. I’m happy to be. My grandchildren live at the other end of the country, so I’ve never done childcare. I don’t consider it’s a grandparents’ job, in any case. It’s down to the parents. My grandchildren are 10 and 14, and I know them very well, but as their grandma, not their carer. It’s lovely to watch them grow up - from a safe distance!

Witzend Thu 19-Jan-23 10:17:26

As for sitting in the corner and having drinks brought to you, last boiling summer I did enjoy sitting in the corner of dd and SiL’s mini swimming pool* and having SiL bring me a lovely cold G&T.
*Not big enough for me to swim in, great for Gdcs though.

henetha Thu 19-Jan-23 10:18:19

Yes, MawtheMerrier. Some as described undoubtedly do exist. I have been surprised by how some grandparents seem to not live their own lives but put their grandchildren centre and front. A big mistake I feel. To maintain one's own friendship group and activities seems very important to me.
Grandchildren should be a bonus, not the central factor in our lives.
However, I have definitely now drifted into a corner, and am aware that my children and grandchildren are now in charge, and looking after, me. I have certainly outlived most of my friends so that my own life is quite isolated and I am so grateful that my family know this and are kind to me.

Yammy Thu 19-Jan-23 10:54:34

I grew up with my gran literally around the corner. I was with her for lunch and school holidays until I went to Grammar school.
I have been granny over the sea for the last 12 years for some of them and saw my GC grow up on Facetime.
We had our other for a week last summer they would never stay with us until then.
All live hundreds of miles away so I think I have been Granny Facetime since they were all born. I try to stay interested in school projects and find books and bits and pieces their parents can't afford.
I always longed to be Granny in the middle until we were all together at Christmas not in my house and I will admit some outings we opted out of for a quick nap.
I just hope it stays like this and changes gradually. Not like mine did my gran died unexpectedly 4 weeks after I left home and my granddad 10 days later.
I want to be a granny who comes to mind now and then and lives in a lovely place for holidays for now..

Fae1 Thu 19-Jan-23 11:12:03

I can totally relate to this post Mawthemerrier. Thankfully though, with age and experience comes tolerance, acceptance and resignation. At the end of the day 'each man, (woman and child) is an island' as the saying goes. Don't just be granny in the corner be the centre of our own life!

albertina Thu 19-Jan-23 11:21:52

My goodness I appreciate this post. Am in the corner out of it till my head spins.

So much wisdom from you all. Thank you. I am a very confused Grandma for reasons that are too complicated to put here.

Also struggling with ageing. Not much I can do about that.

I feel less blue after reading the posts. thanks again.

Littlema333 Thu 19-Jan-23 11:22:43

I have always accepted that as my children & grandchildren have grown they will need me less. I accept they have their own lives & interests as do I. I love the fact all my family live nearby, I know I am fortunate that way. I always say to my husband if we don't hear much then all is well.

biglouis Thu 19-Jan-23 11:23:53

I was reading another thread on GN where a gran was providing extensive childcare services to parents who appeared to take it for granted. They were wondering how to have the difficult conversation of asking for a financial contribution towards petrol and catering expenses. I suspect that when some grandparents find that looking after grandkids is becoming tiring and stressful with age they will be glad to spend some time if not "in the corner" at least reclaiming their own lives.

Helenlouise3 Thu 19-Jan-23 11:26:55

I have 6 grandchildren 10,11,15,17,20 and 22. I find that it's usually us that make contact with the eldest 4, then they "remember about us" for a while. Visits are rare apart from birthdays and Christmas and the usual method of contact is by text. After being a very active part in their lives I sometimes feel a bit left in the corner but fully understand that they all have busy lives of their own, work, school, university apart from a social life. Hubby finds it harder than me I think. The two youngest are very prominent in our lives and we still see them around 3 times a week. I would however drop everything in a heartbeat if I was needed by any of them.

grandtanteJE65 Thu 19-Jan-23 11:34:34

I too know exactly what you mean.

We live at a distance from our son, which limits the times we can spend together.

Other young relatives are so busy with their own lives, that the feeling we get is that they have no time for us.

This results in the feeling that we cannot mean very much to them, as after all, we all make time for the people and things that interest us.

That said, there is the vast difference between their generation and ours that many of the young and middle-aged are apparently content with online contact over Facebook, Instagram etc. rather than physically being in the same room as their friends. This still seems odd, and not the same to me, as it probably does to many of you.

In our own age- group too, people seem to hestitate to make new friends, being seemingly quite content with nodding acquaintances, but never progressing to further than small-talk.

I am afraid that is just the way it is, I certainly haven't found any way past the small-talk barrier yet.

Callistemon21 Thu 19-Jan-23 11:38:07

It's me knees!
I'd be a more active Granny were it not for me knees.
Other Granny is a bit older and a veritable whirlwind in comparison. However, the DGC are older now and don't need much looking after, just company sometimes. They're busy with activities and their friends.

My own social life shrunk during Covid but I'm trying to get in the swing of things again now.

And yes, I do have my corner at their house 😁

Romola Thu 19-Jan-23 11:45:50

I saw a fridge magnet once which said "Money isn't everything but it sure keeps the kids in touch."
Could apply to GCs too!
Newly widowed, I was feeling a bit like Granny in the corner.
But GS aged 16 has asked me to meet him in our (now my) camper van when he goes on a course many miles from his home next summer. We would both stay at a campsite and I would drive him to the course each day. And I can explore the area, new to me.
I am rather thrilled that he had that idea!

Daddima Thu 19-Jan-23 11:46:43

I don’t know about ‘in the corner’, but I can see exactly what MOnica means about going overboard about grandchildren. I have never been at the centre of my grandchildren’s lives, and was never involved in regular childcare, so maybe there just isn’t the same potential for me to feel left out. I’m also happy to let the parents deal with any issues, and I don’t stress about their problems, they’re more than capable of handling them in their own way.
I certainly see less of the older grandchildren, as they no longer need to come visit with their parents, but they do sometimes come without them, which suits me fine.

Romola Thu 19-Jan-23 11:46:47

PS I'm 77