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What's wrong with me...not thrilled being a grandma

Started by Purple Eyes, July 10, 2012, 04:40:10 pm

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Purple Eyes

I have an 8 month old granddaughter (my DD and SILs).  I don't know why, but I feel like I should have more feelings for her.   She is a perfect child, never fussy, very charming, but I just am not "in love" with her, or maybe I don't know how I am supposed to feel.  We see each other once or twice a month,  but only live 60 miles apart.  DD and I have always been oil and vinegar, sometimes we can combine to make a delicious dressing, but we often don't mix well and can hurt each other's feelings deeply.  The truth is, I love my DD passionately and maybe am a little jealous over her love for my GD.  I never really understood my DD, even as an infant, and DD and GD are completely simpatico and DD is never upset with GD, and is thoroughly enjoying her...much more than she ever enjoyed me!  :)

Also, there is the matter of the othe GM.  She is the picture perfect grandma (and I personally like her), she is over the moon for our GD, always popping in to see her, buying her gifts, making plans that my DD really doesn't want to do like lunch or other little get togethers.  I am not that type of gooshy gooshy type person and feel very conflicted about how I should act. 

Also, and this is really weird and makes me feel terrible, but GD is the spitting image of SILs side of the family.  She looks nothing like my side.  It's terrible of me to admit this, but when I hold her, she doesn't feel like she's "mine".

I don't know.  This whole grandmother thing just doesn't come naturally to me.  Today when I tried to apologize to my DD for not being the GM her MIL is, she told me she honestly didn't think about either one of us (her MIL or myself) all that much and to get over it.  I have to laugh at that, at least she is honest and certainly I am lucky not to be shut out of her life.

Maybe I'm just too sensitive and subconsciously don't want to get too close so that I don't get hurt...I do have issues with this.  It makes me sad.  I do love her, but it's just not what my friends seem to feel about their grandkids.  Ah well.  It helps to write about it.  More than I realized.  I hope this wasn't too rambling.  I haven't posted on here much, but it is one of the most useful forums on the web...thanks for listening everyone.


Hi PE:  Welcome.  I know others will officially welcome you but I wanted to give you a little hello. 

I think everything you say is perfectly fine.  I am not a baby person and do not bond quickly with babies so I understand where you are coming from. I am not "gooshy gooshy either (Love those words!!)  And I pull back when my friends are all about gooshy gooshy...not my deal. 

It  sounds like you have raised an independent DD and I love that she was matter of fact with you.  She has a zillion hormones raging and I imagine that she is correct in saying that you and MIL are not at the top of her list of things to worry about... ;)  This is tough to deal with when we are no longer the apple of our AC eyes.  Give yourself some time, don't take things personally. There are as many kinds of grandmothers as there are stars in the sky.  You will find your comfort zone.  Keep posting, there are lots of (great) grandmothers and others here who will listen to you and support you.
Yesterday is history, Tomorrow is a mystery, Today is a gift (Eleanor Roosevelt)


I never was interested in being a grandmother. Nice kids...who grew up to be marvelous men. I don't think we're  all stamped out of the same mold...and that's OK with me. My elder DS and my DIL asked if I would take them if something happened to them, and I said no way. It's OK in my family to be how you are...which is lucky!  ;)
Be kind whenever possible. It is always possible. Dalai Lama


Purple Eyes, I think once or twice a month is a good amount to visit.  Especially with the 60 miles.  It doesn't seem too much nor too little.

I understand what you're saying and I think I'll probably be similar as a grandmother.  You sound like how my grandparents were growing up.  They liked/loved us and all, but they also were more interested in their children; my parents.  Over time I think you will get closer and develop a bond, I'm sure. 

People throw rocks at things that shine - Taylor Swift


My dad:  If I drove my children across country and sat them down next to him to watch TV together or read, he was glad to see them.  He always had great things to say about them and gave them money every bday and Xmas and that was what he was comfortable with.

I was really glad to meet my GD but I felt very aware that my relationship could be limited by my DIL and it was a few months later.  I'm glad I didn't get too attached - I do love her, but it's more conceptual than need to hold her.

I think you can only be who you are with any integrity.  She'll need lots of different types of people to love her.


Hello and welcome.    I started a thread along these lines a few months ago.   I have 3 GKs.  I have never been a baby or kid person either... I like them more when they get a bit older... like 12 or 13.   That doesn't mean I don't love my GKs... it's just that I'm really not comfortable with them.

My first GK arrived just 4 months after I was widowed.  I had a lot more on my mind at that time that particular time than becoming a Grandmother... like getting MY life back together and figuring out how to survive.  Also, for me, because of the culture of my DILs FOO, I was never seen as part of or even equal to their status with my DILs kids.   I also had to work full time and didn't have the luxury of just "Popping in" as I was usually pretty busy with work, running a small side business, and managing income property left all to me after DH passed away.  So many times MILs are told to "get a life"  well, heck, I sure had my hands full, yet was accused of not caring because I wasn't begging to see the kids all the time.  I also was raised to wait for an invitation to visit.  One never knows what is the right thing to do does one?

As for how the GKs look?  I don't think it odd at all for feeling partial to those that look like ourselves.  I have to admit partiality to my older GS.  Maybe because he was the first and the only one I was allowed any time with at all , but also because he is the spitting image of MY son and therefore of me... as my son looks just like me.  I make no secret of the fact that DIL is no longer a favorite person of mine... and while I love my other two GKs..  they do remind me of a rather disliked person..  It's hard to admit that.. but I am human and I cannot help these feelings.

So you are not alone in your thoughts and concerns.  I also have wondered why I don't get the gooshy whoosy feelings of enthralment over the GKs..   I guess I am really not that type of person either.


I recently spent 12 days on a vacation with my DD and 9 month old GD. Before that I would have said she's cute and all, but I can honestly say that during those days of playing peek a boo, picking her up to look out the window, making her laugh and clap and teaching her to nod her head, I fell completely and utterly in love. I just saw yesterday on facebook a video of her taking her first steps and I cried.

I didn't expect to. So I'm blown away. I kind of thought there was something wrong with my granny genes too. Now I think it was just that distance was keeping me from bonding. It is such a pleasant  surprise. It took time and being in close quarters for it to happen. I had to get to know her. How are you supposed to love someone you haven't been allowed to fall in love with?

If I didn't have a good relationship with my daughter, I don't see how that could have happened at all. I also suspect that having my mother heart hurt affected how much I was willing to invest emotionally. All that being said, I still don't want to watch my GC for extended periods until they can walk, talk and not poop their pants! It's just too exhausting.


I think what you are doing is normal.  Some are gaga over GC (me) and some are not.  I think you are being a great GM!  Do you know any women that are like, I'm not a good stay at home housewife (me), or women that are I'm not a good worker, I want to be at home?  Nothing wrong with either one.  Just individual personalities.

And welcome.  If you haven't, please take the time to read the posts under open me first.  It's our history, rules, etc. and we like all new members to read them to understand the way the forum works.  Nothing wrong with your post.
We must let go of the life we have planned, so as to accept the one that is waiting for us. -
Joseph Campbell

Purple Eyes

Wow, thanks for all of your support.  It blows me away!  I don't have a lot of time to post, like Lillycache (ty!) I am in an incredibly busy time of my life, and do work full time and have other lifestyle changes going on that need to be dealt with.  The main thing I am holding to my heart is what you all are's okay to be who I am.  I was a great parent, my kids turned out fine, and I will just let my relationship with GD unfold naturally.  I think it will be fine, and if she ends up favoring the other GM, that will just have to be okay, the other GM is a great person so it's not like she will be a negative influence. 

Huge thanks to all of you, the kindness and caring here is overwhelming.


PE, neither of my 2 gk's are my biological gk.  One is from my adopted son and the other one was adopted by my DD and SIL.  GS is half Japanese and has more of his dad's features than his moms'.  AGD is red headed, blue eyes and looks like she could have come from my side of the family.  Don't matter if they have two heads, I have waited all my life to be Fafe and I'm loving every minute of it.  My GD's cousin is part Chinese and looks like a little china doll.  I cheat and call her my GD too. 

I will have to admit when I had my first child I was so sure that I would have a little girl, that I was disappointed (a little) that I had had a boy.  Took me a few days to get over that joke that God played on me - but I wouldn't have it any other way.  When I got pregnant again, the doc asked what was I going to do if I had another boy.  Answer - take him home and love him too.

So, I guess what I'm trying to say that our emotions are all over the range of what people expect of us.  As my dear departed sister once said, it is what it is.   


I am so stressed over this, that I could weep. Not sure if I can even put my thoughts into words.

I have grown three grown grandchildren and four great-grandchildren in North America. So "been there, done that", and enjoyed it very much, but I moved back to Australia a couple of years ago, so I'm not so much the very active part of their lives as I was.

But my newest grandchildren came along much later, and they and my son and my DIL have just moved from Britain back to Oz, and live a suburb away from me. Of course, I'd met the children on trips, noted that they seemed terribly spoilt, but was ok with it - I certainly would never comment or interfere with someone else's childraising techniques. But now they live nearby, I am expected to "do things" together, and I absolutely hate it. The children hardly know me, and I get the cold treatment and a lot of negativity. The parents don't seem to react to this...they are "self-confident kids, strong and confident", they say - this for an 8 yr old, and a 3 yr old... Frankly, I would rather have as little time with them as possible - at least until they are older. Of course, I can't do that.

I am a writer, and my days were normally quiet, thoughtful times, when I could devote my hours to my work at any time of day, without interruption, but now I find I am in dread of the inevitable call to either "do things with them", or babysit.  I don't enjoy this experience one bit but I am unable to voice my feelings to either my son or my daughter-in-law, for fear of causing a rift. I occasionally suggest that their kids show me no respect, but try not to sound too, too annoyed, for fear of hurting them.  I am becoming so tense when they call, expecting that invitation to participate, but so far I haven't made up an excuse, but it's wearing me down.

Please, can anyone suggest how I can approach my son to explain what I really feel? I tried talking to daughter-in-law, but she laughed and pointed out how lovely her girls are most of the time. I haven't seen this loveliness yet.

Last, it's just not me who finds the children difficult. I have another son here, unmarried, who really tried to be part of the group, and he feels the same way I do, that the kids are pretty appalling. But it's okay for him to wriggle out of things because he's a young guy doing his own thing, and they have no expectations with him the way they do with me. I am The Grandmother, and I am expected to love every minute of it.

By the way, I am not so very old, really. 72 this year, but extremely fit and not a cranky old lady...think of myself as a very savvy and sophisticated woman, but I do think we get past the very young (especially rude) child involvement. I certainly have.

Help! I hope I'm not to late with this thread to get some words of wisdom.


Camelot, I think you have to ask yourself if your expectations for the behaviour of these GK's are realistic.  An 8 y/o can certainly do calmer things, but 3 y/o's are THE DEVIL!  They warn you about the terrible two's, but every parent I know has PTSD from their 3 y/o's.

Second, don't be afraid to set "different rules" at your house.  You don't even have to be a huge disciplinarian, you can just say "Hey!  That behaviour is NOT acceptable here."  Do you remember how to do Angry Eyes and That Tone?  (To be honest here, my 7 y/o DD is a peach, and all I've ever needed were the Angry Eyes and That Tone.)  I've found that most kids understand that there are different expectations from different authority figures.

I think it would also help you to take control of the terms of when and how you see your GK's.  Make your OWN plans with one or both of the children.  With that age gap, you can say that you want to do "older" things with the older one and "younger" things with the younger one.  You can also say "I'm sorry, but I have plans" when DS and DIL ask you to babysit.


Hello Camelot -

As I read this, you're mainly concerned with reclaiming your time/space rather than changing the GKs so I'll address that.

Maybe you can just not answer the phone when you are working and respond when you feel that you can be an equal partner in the conversation, not weighted down by their expectations.   I think a blanket statement that you have a lot of work to do and you aren't available from 8-4 everyday could establish some boundaries maybe.

As far as their expectations - I find that just because someone has expectations of me, that doesn't mean I have to accept them.  Consider if your DIL came to  you with an expectation of, I don't know, jumping off a roof - you'd think that was ridiculous and never consider it, right?    Just because she wants you do to something doesn't mean that you have to want to do it - and you don't have to feel bad about not wanting to do it.

I know you are not an 'old' 72yo but if you need an excuse not to babysit, then you can always fall back on age.  It's entirely acceptable.  Tell them you're too tired but then go out and do something fun for yourself!
DIL doesn't sound receptive to your input so I would just subtract myself from the situation to a comfortable level for myself.


Welcome Camelot.  When you get a moment, take the time to read the posts under open me first.  They explain the forum rules and the history.  We ask all new members to do this, nothing wrong with your post.

I agree with Doe.  Just because they have expectations of you being at their beck and call, doesn't mean you have to be.  You can spend quality time with the GK's when you feel up to it, not because DIL/DS need a babysitter.  If you're not comfortable around the GK's because of behavior, then limit your time with them.  Also, like Scoop said, your house...your rules.
We must let go of the life we have planned, so as to accept the one that is waiting for us. -
Joseph Campbell


Camelot, I don't think that there's anything wrong with the way you feel. Everyone has different levels of comfort with how much time they want with GCs, and what sort of things they'd prefer to do. And I think Scoop is right about the 3 year olds - they are among the most exhausting creatures on earth.

If you find the activities they want you to partake in too much for you, it's ok to say so. Maybe when they're older there will be things you can do with them that are more suitable to you. There's also nothing wrong with having rules at your house about behaviour.