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Being a paternal grandmother

(43 Posts)
anxiousgran Mon 28-Jan-13 14:42:16

My son and his partner are expecting their 1st child soon and it will be my 1st grandchild. I get on very well with my son's partner. She is very close to her Mum, who intends to be there at the birth (as well as my son). She also lives very close to her Mum. I know women like to be near their mothers when they have a baby, but I am concerned that my son will to be pushed out. I know I shouldn't get involved in this, and I don't want to worry (or be resentful), but I also have a sneaking fear I will be the '2nd gran'. I should count myself lucky I only live an hour away as other grandparents are at the other ends of the earth to their grandchildren. Did anyone else have these concerns, and were they unfounded?

HildaW Mon 28-Jan-13 14:56:40

First of all 'Congratulations'.
The next is try try not to see this as a competitive event - it will only spoil the joy of being a Grandma.
Every family is different and every set of relationships are different. Just fit in where its needed , let it happen naturally and see each occasion that you are involved with as a joy and a blessing, not a right.
For what its worth I am a 'Maternal' Grandma but I tend to come off second best a little but its not anything I can do about so I just dont worry about it. The problem in our family is that my daughter's MIL died dramatically and unexpectedly leaving her son angry and traumatised. Now my daughter has to deal with a lot of 'My Mum never got to see the children doing such and such' and it subtly affects how many times they visit. Yes, I am in competition with a dead Grandma!....
I am not cross or bitter, its just a fact of life and I only mention it to illustrate that there are no hard and fast rules, there are just families. So dont fret about it, work towards a strong and loving relationship and enjoy being a grandma!

grannyactivist Mon 28-Jan-13 14:58:19

Hello anxiousgran. I am a mum who is planning to be present at the birth of my grandchild and yes, I am close to my daughter, but I am also very fond of my son in law and I am certain that he is in not in the least little bit concerned that he will be 'pushed out'. I wonder if your concern is more about being the '2nd gran' than about your son? I'm sure you'll find that there is enough 'baby' to go round and that your good relationship with your daughter in law will mean that you're not excluded. Neither of my sons have had children yet, but I do expect when that time comes that my daughter in law will want her mum around - and I'm sure there will be a place for me too. smile

glammanana Mon 28-Jan-13 15:09:42

Hi anxiousgran do you get to see your DILs mum on a regular basis if not why not invite her for lunch/coffee and chat about your good news and just let her know you will be available to help out if needed,you could help with washing shopping cleaning etc which would give maternal gran a break when the happy time comes.
Girls will always gravitate towards their mums I know as I have 2 future DIL,I am sure your DS will not be left out and he will find himself very useful when the time comes. Congradulations on the good

Movedalot Mon 28-Jan-13 15:09:50

My DiL did not want her mother in the labour room but she turned up anyway and was shown the door very quickly!

We live further away so when we do see them it is usually for more than one day. I don't think her mum is very maternal so she doesn't seem to see much of them anyway.

As has already been said, all families are different and I know it will be different when the other DSs start families.

Ariadne Mon 28-Jan-13 15:24:36

I have two sons and one daughter, all married, all with children, and I have to say I shared your concerns, anxiousgran when the GC began to arrive. I worried needlessly! My wonderful daughters in law, one of whom lives just round the corner from her mother, have included us in everything (we live three hours away) and their children are a huge part of our lives. But, we have also made every effort to travel to see them, have them to stay and so on, so it has been a two way effort and has truly paid off. (I've just driven back to Devon from Hampshire to share a birthday party!)

My daughter and I are very close, and I now live near to her, and that in itself is great; her MiL is a difficult woman who lives a long way away and...that is another story, but no effort has been made to see the GC until recently.

(DH is to all intents and purposes the only Grandpa - two have died, one is very distant in many ways, so he just has a ball with all the GC, all of whom adore him and think he is just another, larger, older, child!)

Don't worry, love expands to embrace all the babies and all the grandparents if you work to nurture it.

anxiousgran Mon 28-Jan-13 16:36:17

Thanks everyone for replying and for your reassurance and wisdom. It's time to embrace the experience, and take things as they come.
Thanks for the congrats too!

FlicketyB Mon 28-Jan-13 16:46:22

Anxious Gran, What has happened in our family is that both grandmothers have ended up playing completely different roles that cannot be competitive, even if we wanted them to be so, which we don't

Unlike you we live several hundred miles from our DGC while DDil's mother, who is a widow, lives in the same town and has been a tower strength and spends so much time with DGC, she is essentially a third parent. We couldnt possibly compete with this, even if we wanted to, and, to be honest, I wouldnt want to devote as much time to caring for my grandchildlren as she does.

However we are 'doers' so we have done things for them. DDiL has health problems and DS works long and sometimes inconvenient hours and has no apptitude for DIY so DH has upgraded the kitchen for them. I have just returned from doing some decorating. Since we are also better off we have also been able to help them buy things they need, we always try to do it discreetly, usually a subsidy rather than an outright purchase.

Both families get on really well. When we visit we usually sleep at the other grandma's house and we have all been away together on occasional family holidays. DH is the only grandpa, and DGS considers him to be the best thing since sliced bread. Grandmas are two a penny but a grandpa.....

grannyactivist Mon 28-Jan-13 16:53:15

anxiousgran when is the baby due? There are quite a lot of grannies expecting new arrivals this year: there have been two announcements today in fact. Why not pop over to this thread and join in the fun? smile

Ylil Tue 29-Jan-13 09:00:54

I'm a paternal granny and don't see as much of our g/child and dil as her parents do, but they live close by whereas we live a half hour drive away. However, we do get to share the childcare with dil's parents and they did come on holiday with us last year.

dorsetpennt Tue 29-Jan-13 09:31:45

I had this conversation on another thread ages ago. I'm a 'paternal' granny and I spend a lot of time with both GDs. I did wonder when my first GD was born would I be in 2nd place but that hasn't happened. The other grandparents live fairly close to me, so often include me when they travel up to London to see the children. Any suggestions are advice I may offer are accepted with grace, my son and his wife have tried very hard to be fair on both sides.

wisewoman Tue 29-Jan-13 09:34:14

As has been said before every family is different. I have two sons and worried about being the 'other granny" the one you can shove off the bus! (It is a scottish song) However that hasn't happened and we see lots of our lovely grandchildren, probably more than the maternal grandparents. We love spending time with them and are willing to help when we can. Anxiousgran don't worry, be available and enjoy! A granny who says "what can I do to help?" will be very welcome.

harrigran Tue 29-Jan-13 12:48:50

DD does not have children so I am the paternal grandmother to both GC. I was not present at their births but neither was DIL's mother as she lives five hours drive away. I see the GC every week and babysit as required, childmind during school holidays and take them on holiday sometimes. I understand it is not practical for DIL's mother to visit the way I do so always take a back seat when she visits and give her precious time with the children. She got them for a week at Christmas and got to do exciting things, was I jealous ? no. It is not a competition or favouritism it is give and take and what is best for the children. I never had any concerns when DIL became pregnant, I love her as if she was my own DD and we get along just fine.

baubles Tue 29-Jan-13 13:29:20

Hello anxiousgranny. Congratulations and I do hope you will become less anxious once the baby arrives.

I'm a maternal grandmother and I see my grandchildren once a week usually. Both husband and I are still working so we have little free time whereas the 'other' grandparents are not only both retired but also live much closer to my daughter and husband than I do. I don't actually know how often the other grandparents see the children and I'm not at all concerned, it isn't a competition and I have a wonderful relationship with them. Their other granny, I'm sure, has an equally wonderful but different relationship with them.

anxiousgran Tue 29-Jan-13 15:56:10

Thanks again to everyone. You all have positive stories to tell and it is very reassuring.I have a sneaking suspicion that perhaps I was in danger of becoming jealous (eek). I met my DiL's mum for the first time at the weekend, and they were so affectionate to each other, which is lovely as some mums and daughters hate each other. I think I felt a bit envious of a mother/daughter relationship, but I have 2 lovely sons who are FANTASTIC.
I didn't get chance to speak to DiL's mum on my own which I hope to do at least when the baby is born. She must be a lovely woman, as she has brought up a lovely daughter.
I will be good at housework and taking casseroles round, anyway!

mollie65 Tue 29-Jan-13 18:37:17

as a 'paternal grandma' - it is a bit of a minefield especially as there is no 'paternal grandad' for balance -
there is a saying that
a son is a son until he takes a wife but a daughter is a daughter all of her life.

Although my son would never dream of abandoning me or ceasing to care about how I am - I am fortunately extremely independent minded and 'never interfere with their lives but they know they can call on me if needed'

Ella46 Tue 29-Jan-13 18:49:50

anxious I think with your attitude "lovely daughter therefore must be a lovely mum", you will all get on famously smile

GrannyGalactica Thu 31-Jan-13 12:46:26

In my experience, being a paternal grandmother is definitely a minefield. I have 3 sons; the nearest is 50 miles away and the other two 250 miles away, about 5 hours by train or car. Only one has children (a GD aged 2½ and a new born GS) and, you guessed it, he is 250 miles away. This means that I have to stay over if I visit but, although they have a spare room, they cannot accommodate me and I have to stay in a b&b. I live by the sea and thought they would like to spend holidays with me but they prefer Portugal or Tenerife and have shared holidays there with my DiL’s family and friends. I have just returned from a 3 day visit to my GS: only 2 weeks old so perhaps it was unreasonable of me to visit so soon. Sadly, they were very busy during the day with all the activities that GD has to do (nursery, tumble tots, swimming) and I had to leave at GD’s bed time so there wasn’t much time for getting to know each other. We did go out for a meal one evening, which I appreciated, and I played with my GD and cuddled my GS at every available opportunity but my DS and DiL were too busy to do more than glance at the presents I took, even the little coat that I had knitted. (I didn’t say anything but this was the first knitting project I had completed for years and I put my heart and soul into it. ) I have Skype but don’t find it very successful and they don’t seem to have time to use it. My DiL’s parents live about 15 minutes away and are very close. They looked after my GD while my DiL was working and my DiL’s father, a keen DIYer, has helped my DS to replumb, rewire etc. Don’t get me wrong, my DiL’s parents are very nice people and I am glad my DS has been welcomed into such a close and loving family but I feel that I have no place in his life. I’m not sure how close my DS is to his own father, my ex, as no one ever talks to me about him and we have no contact. He lives about 30 miles from me and is married to a lady who is close to her own 2 DDs and GC. I’m on my own and, although I am pretty independent, keep busy and have many friends, I feel horribly left out of my own family.

whenim64 Thu 31-Jan-13 13:51:46

I am paternal grandmother to two boys, one nearly 13 and the other just born on Monday. I have always been really close to the eldest, who was my first grandchild, but the relationship with ex-DIL was really hard to navigate, as she was abusive and has an alcohol problem. They divorced last year, with much acrimony, and she prevented my son and me from seeing grandson for a few months. It's all fine again now (for us) - she has another baby and is exchanging hostile allegations with the potential father.

My son has a new, happy relationship and a new baby. DIL is a normal, loving woman who is generous with her own time and access to the baby. She is like a daughter already. Her mum and dad live very near, so will see my grandson most days. I feel totally included, and my son is so different now he is not constantly treading on eggshells. My elder grandson is welcomed into her family, and he is quite relaxed about things.

I do think that DILs are naturally going to lean towards their mums, but they shouldn't be encouraged to exclude paternal grandparents, and one of my other daughters has her MIL living just a few doors away. She minds our two grandaughters, and does a great job. I don't feel any jealousy. I can call in whenever I want to see them, and she makes me welcome. We will take the children to the library and nursery rhyme sessions together.

If I thought either of my daughters would exclude the paternal grandparents for no good reason, I would be mortified. They both assert that they would not do such a callous thing. They see the benefits of all grandparents being on the scene as much as they can.

mollie65 Thu 31-Jan-13 14:03:08

grannygalactica I felt for you when I read your story. My son and his family live fairly close so I make the effort as does he to keep in touch - but they are so busy with their own lives (grandson is the only one I will ever have) that it is difficult to maintain the closeness one once had - particularly if there is no 'paternal grandad' on your side.
hope you enjoy your new

Gally Thu 31-Jan-13 14:26:21

I am a maternal granny, so the boot is on the other foot. Two of my daughters live very near to their PILs, one in the other half of the house. They are all very considerate when I visit and although initially I felt a little put out, I soon came to realise that it's a good situation all round. They tend to make themselves scarce when I visit so I can have my 'turn' with the gc's. The 3rd PILs live some 100 miles away from DD (I am 400 miles away) and our paths rarely cross. My only gripe would be that DD and family tend to visit them more often for holidays and only visit me when it coincides with something else - wedding, work, party, but I do understand that logistics come into it. I was present at the births of 3 gc's at the request of DD (in Oz )and her husband. He was very squeamish and was reassured to have me present so there was never any problem between us. Luckily we get on just fine

annemac101 Thu 31-Jan-13 16:08:56

A few quite sad stories here. I try to think back to what my MIL was like (overpowering) and no be like her. My DGD,son and partner live about an hours drive from us,her mum was at the birth with my son and she looks after DGD while mum works. She's now 17 mths and lately I've been asked if I want her overnight at week end and it has been lovely, nearly 2 whole days with her. My daughter is trying to fall pregnant I can't imagine her wanting me at the birth and certainly not her MIL but I live over an hour from her and in laws stay very close. I am preparing myself to be very jealous.
I think if I thought I was being ignored I would have to say something. As for gifts hardly being looked at my DIL is a bit like that but that's more to do with rudeness than not including me.

anxiousgran Thu 31-Jan-13 16:14:15

I am new to using gransnet and it is the first time I have ever had a chance to use a forum like this. I feel so lucky there are so many understanding women out there who have taken the time to be in touch with me.
Grannygalactica- I am so sorry you have been rather excluded. I don't think you were unreasonable to see your new grandson early in his life and I am sure you weren't in the way. I understand about the knitting you did with so much love, and I am sure they have 'found' it now amongst all the baby debris and they will definitely need it. I am knitting a lacy shawl which will probably not bear close inspection when it is done, but love is never wasted.
WhenIm64- I'm glad things are improving now in your family. We can't take on everyone's problems even when we think we should.
Gally- how wonderful that you were at your gc's births. What an honour to be asked.
Much love to everyone. flowers

harrigran Thu 31-Jan-13 18:25:30

Having your mother at the birth ! I didn't even have DH at ours.

annodomini Thu 31-Jan-13 19:22:02

My mother was probably the last person I'd have wanted present when I was in labour. I don't think she'd have relished it either.