I'm new here and looking for advice or maybe reassurance.
I have three children two older daughters who are both single parents with two children (my grandchildren are 23, 22, 14 and 12) and my son is in his late twenties and is single.
My son left as a teenager and it emerged he had mental health issues that I had tried to address when he lived with me but failed as he would not see a doctor. I am divorced form his father and he supported my son saying there was nothing wrong. My daughters are from my first marriage.
When my son left I had no contact with him for years (his choice). I met a lovely man and we live together. He has three children he doesn't see as his ex-wife doesn't agree with him living with me. Initially my daughters were welcoming but I soon realised that one of them expected him to be 'grandad' to her then young children (not just in name, in terms of school runs etc). He is quite a lot younger then me and didn't want this, and neither did I as I think honesty is the best policy. They already have two grandads.
Due to various reasons, including SIL not liking cats, me working full time and my refusal to cut my hours and look after my grandchildren, they have stopped coming to see me. There is a running joke about me not liking people in my home, but I have never said this, I have always welcomed them, but it was always uncomfortable with them making fun of me and my cooking.
I didn't make this situation, I live in the same house and am the same person. Both my ex-husbands cheated and left me, so I don't think they blame me for that. When my son reappeared (so I would be a guarantor) I started to feel like I didn't want him in my home. I love him and want to see him, but deep down he has hurt me. So have my daughters. So now I see them to eat out and occasionally at their houses. I see them about four times a month and my son less as he lives far away. We all message and speak on the phone several times a week and get on ok that way. I feel like I have set a fair boundary.
My partner and I are very happy, I have a very happy life. I have space to do things I like and be myself. But recently my older daughter told me that my younger daughter resents that I am 'not a proper gran' and she will be different with her grandchildren. I feel devastated and tried to talk to her but she was very dismissive. My partners mum has, without knowing, added to this with her running 'family is everything' narrative when I mention my work.
I have had counselling and my therapist said I have co-dependency issues particularly around my son who has created a 'I'll leave again if you don't do what I want' and suggested I work on being independent from them.
But I feel bad. I feel selfish for having my own life and a great relationship. It's almost as if I can't choose what relationship I want with them or my grandchildren, almost as if it's a 'a mother's love is unconditional' and I should drop what I am doing and do things for them. It's like I don't fit with a 'grandma' or even 'mum' mould they have.
I know deep down this is about things like not having my grandchildren sleep over like other grandparents. I often get long stories about how other children stay with grandparents related to me. I do take my grandchildren out and I want to take them on holiday. My elder grandchildren have told me recently they love and respect me and see me as a role model.
I am also always giving my children money to help out.
It seems like nothing I can ever do is enough. Last month, in the middle of lockdown, I went to my daughters house for my grandsons birthday (social distancing in the garden which I was ridiculed for). In advance she had sent me a link to a present he wanted that cost £75 which I bought. When I got there he snatched it off me, didn't say thank you. I was there for about 45 minutes then my daughter said, 'Do you want a cup of tea or did you say you were going?'
What I feel like doing is having some time to myself and living my life, but I am afraid that will just cause more problems and snipes.
With this COVID situation I am worried about my pension and I can't give them any more money. It's getting to the point where I feel like I am being 'bribed' then discarded over and over again. Over the past five years I have given them 15k between them. My partner doesn't even know about this as we have separate accounts.
It's a big mess but any advice would be much appreciated. Or am I wrong?
Sorry this is so long but thank you for allowing me to get it out.
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