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GM with a heavy heart

Started by EJGrandma, December 16, 2013, 04:19:04 pm

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I come here with a heavy heart.  I am a GM to 2 beautiful GC from my only son.  I love them so much.  I love my son too.  I have a good relationship with him his whole life.  My son and DIL have been married 15 years.  I have never been close to my DIL.  MY GC are 14 and 13.  Since they were born, my son let me come to his house one or two days a week to see my GC.  I like to help out, so I clean my son and DIL's house while I am there.

Last week, my son tells me that my GC are old enough to stay home without me.  He also tells me my DIL does not like for me to clean her house.    He also told me to speak English when I visit their home so my DIL can understand.  I am from a different country and have always spoke my language to my son.  I think my DIL is the reason for this.  I don't know what to do.  I am so upset.  Please help me with advice.  Thank you.


Oh my goodness EJ...did I read this correctly?  For 15 years you have been going to your DIL's house, cleaning and talking to your DS and GC in your native language?  And your DIL does not speak your native language?  I can only think that your DIL was happy to have bi-lingual children. 

When children get into their teens they get minds of their own.  This could be coming more from your GC than from your DIL.  I am sure your DS/DIL do not want to hurt you more by blaming your GCs but any woman who was ok with your habits for 15 years probably does not mind it now.  Teens can be a challenge to anyone.  Please do not take it personally and do not hold it against the DIL who tolerated not being able to understand your conversation for 15 years.

I know it is tough!  Hang in there.  The teens turn into young adults fairly quickly, though for some of us those few years seem really long!!
Your mind is a garden your thoughts are the seeds
You can grow flowers or you can grow weeds.
Author unknown


Welcome GM - Please go to our HomePage and under Open Me First, read the posts for new members there. We ask that you pay special attention to the Forum Agreement to be sure WWU is a fit. We are a monitored Website.

Many of us here have experienced being cut off from our adult children and grandchildren when we least expected it. For me it has been a long and rocky road to recovery but I am at peace and now how a full life of my own. Once they take the kind of action like you have experienced, it usually a done deal and there is nothing you can do to change it. However, you can change your own perceptions and your focus. They're something you are fully in charge of. You were whole before you became a parent and grandparent. You can be whole again. It takes realizing that they have the right to manage their lives in any way they choose...and that your expectations, no matter how reasonable, are not their responsibility to meet. My heart goes out to you...been there done that...and I found it really, really hard. Hugs...
Be kind whenever possible. It is always possible. Dalai Lama


Perhaps your DIL never liked you cleaning her house or not speaking English when you were around and never said anything and now that the grandkids are old enough to stay alone, she feels like she can speak up or ask your son to speak up for her.  It's not fair to say nothing and then complain 15 years later, but I understand it because I did much the same with my inlaws.  They did many intrusive things over the years that I didn't like and I complained to my husband but never to them.  I have trouble with assertiveness and confrontation and avoided dealing with the issues with them for so many years.  When I finally spoke up, I had so much anger inside that I didn't my approach was not good and it did not go well at all and my feelings were never heard.  It's ok for a DIL not to want you to clean their house. I wouldn't like that either.  It's ok for them not to need you to stay with the kids too.  Can you call and visit with the kids or set up times to take them places?  Would that be allowed?   Perhaps they no longer need you for child care but can you still spend time with them as a family or spend and hour or two with the kids occasionally?   Perhaps you could take them to dinner or a movie on occasion. 


Confused - Thanks for looking at the other side of the coin. I am uncomfortable and feel invisible around people who are speaking another language...and I would never want anyone but a professional to clean my house. Too personal.
Be kind whenever possible. It is always possible. Dalai Lama


My son tell me my DIL was upset for a long time about me cleaning.  He told me he should have stopped me a long time ago.  I did not know.  He told me how would you feel if DIL came to your house and cleaned around in your kitchen and went into your drawers.  You would not like it.  I did not look at it that way.  I was just trying to help.   I always speak my language to my son and sometimes to my GC.  They know little words.  My DIL does not understand.  I tried to teach her, but she could not learn very well.  My son says to not speak my language to him when DIL is there.  He says she feels left out and it is rude.  I leave for holiday to my country next month and will be sad to go.  When I come back, I want to make things better but don't know how.  I feel so sorry. 


Dear EJGrandma,  I understand you were trying to help,  but now that you know how she feels and if you want to make things better, respect how she feels and don't clean her house or speak to your son in a language she doesn't understand when she is around. 


I find learning other languages very hard but here's what I would do...I'd find a tutor and tell DIL I was going to learn her language and ask for her help. I'd also tell her that I wouldn't want anyone cleaning my house unless they asked first and I agreed...and...that I was wrong for assuming it was a contribution. We are all human...none of us do it right all of the time. In fact, where I'm concerned, I'm lucky to even get it right some of the time! Hugs...
Be kind whenever possible. It is always possible. Dalai Lama


If my inlaws had listened to me the first time I sat down and spoke with them about the problems I was having and changed their behavior, things would be different.  They basically told me I shouldn't feel that way and went on doing things the same.  I confronted them again a couple years ago and they acted like they had never heard any of it before and basically said it sounded   like I was the one with the problem. NOW since I have withdrawn from the relationship with them, they want to try to fix it, but I feel like it's too late.  I don't have good feelings toward them at all and I don't really trust them


Don't know where you live, but I'd love for you to come clean my house!  LOL!  Hopefully, when you return from your trip, you can make things better for all of you.


I agree that it's confusing and hurtful to suddenly be blamed for something you should have been told about years ago. When you know better you do better, to quote Maya Angelou (or Oprah.) If you didn't know, they shouldn't hold it against you. IMO, a better way to handle it would have been for them to thank you profusely for your years of help and then make plans for regular (maybe once every two weeks or once a month?) visits in the future.

How about when the "zapato" is on the other "pie?" My DS is married to a woman whose DM is too shy to speak English around him. He has learned enough of her language to communicate in a basic manner and has no problem being around gatherings of relatives who also don't speak English. Because he loves his wife, he loves and respects her family. When they are intrusive (cleaning, offering advice, etc.) he tries to understand. Plus, the food is fabulous. "You had me at empanada."

Why is it seen one way when the DIL's FOO does something but the opposite way when it's the DS's FOO? A question for the ages...
Respect ... is appreciation of the separateness of the other person, of the ways in which he or she is unique.
-- Annie Gottlieb


Welcome EJGrandma.  Ok, so now you know.  How were you supposed to know if nothing was said for 15 years?  If it was me, I would talk to DS and DIL and tell them you understand now and you will do your best to speak English around her and you will not clean anymore.  And also tell them that you understand the GC are old enough to not need someone watching them, but could you still visit every once in awhile?

That's the best you can do is see their side.  I hope they also see that letting something go for 15 years is, IMO, the same as permission and saying it was ok.  I think they have to take responsibility for their part in this and I'm sure they appreciated the help with the GC all this time.  I'm always suspect when something "all of sudden" is not right because they don't need your help anymore.  It's like they wouldn't say anything because they wanted the help with the GC.  That's not fair to you either.
We must let go of the life we have planned, so as to accept the one that is waiting for us. -
Joseph Campbell


I used to think the way to resolve something that didn't work for me was to tell people what they needed to change. I never got that they were the way they were and perhaps that was just fine as far as they were concerned. Eventually I got that I was responsible for my own happiness. I don't like everyone and everyone doesn't like me. That it doesn't mean we aren't all OK in our own way. We pick our friends. Relatives and extended families can kind of descend on us. I have found times when I was able to adapt and adjust and there have also been times when I couldn't or wouldn't. I also had a DIL who wrote me off before we met. For me, it boils down to doing my best and knowing it may not be anyone else's idea of my best. Oh, well...
Be kind whenever possible. It is always possible. Dalai Lama


I'm sure your DIL would like to be able to participate in the conversation with both you and her husband together, and that's difficult to do when you don't understand or speak the language. I'm sure we've all been in situations where people around us are speaking different languages that you can't understand. That feeling of "What are they talking about? Are they talking about me?"  I know I have, and it's made me feel very isolated and left out.  When everyone can communicate in a common language, it is considered rude to leave one person out.


Luise said:
I used to think the way to resolve something that didn't work for me was to tell people what they needed to change. I never got that they were the way they were and perhaps that was just fine as far as they were concerned. Eventually I got that I was responsible for my own happiness.

L-- I need to get this mindset -- NOW -- so life can be more enjoyable. Actually, your entire post was therapeutic, but didn't want to copy the whole thing!

Maybe I should strive in the upcoming new year to develop more meaningful friendships/activities instead of relying on family to meet that need.

Several years ago my BIL told us a little story about his MIL and it always gives me a chuckle when I think about it.
The MIL lived about 45 minutes from them. Her husband died and she continued to live by herself although she was in her late seventies. Her daughter and my BIL would drive out several times a week to check on her, and she would not be home, but either with friends, or doing something she loved. BIL said once they figured this out, they would always call before going over to see if she was at home.
For me, this is a good example of taking charge of your life and not moping around for life to come to you.