Growing up I had two grandmothers; Grandma, my mother’s mother, who I have written about before (here and here) and Granny, my father’s mother. Now Granny, despite the name connoting someone warm and cuddly and a lover of children was anything but with my brother and me. We probably saw her once a year or so when we were younger, then as we were in our teens less often. She died when I was a sophomore in college.
During my childhood she did not live near us. We were in England until I was two, and then in Michigan. She lived in Texas and then California.
I know some of the emotional distance had to do with my father. Apparently at some point she told her sister that my father was cold. Her sister came for a visit once and some how that was brought up and my father was pissed and hurt that his mother said that. They didn’t speak for a while, and certainly didn’t visit.
My mother never had good things to say about Granny. They considered her selfish, irresponsible with money, and basically an all around bitch.
My Grandma on the other hand lived very close to us from the time I was five. When I was three she and my grandfather and my parents bought a farm together (160 acres) in south-central Michigan. We lived in the original farmhouse and my grandparents built a house for themselves farther back in the property. Not right next door in city thinking, but definitely so in farm thought. It was a little more than a quarter mile walk back to them.
I have such good memories of times spent with my grandparents. I remember her telling me stories at bedtime about “the lost girls.” I remember oatmeal for breakfast, with brown sugar and raisins. My grandfather called it “glue.” I remember my grandfather taking me to Greenfield Village in Dearborn, MI. And my grandmother taking my cousin and me to Europe when we were 16. There was time spent cooking with my grandmother and working in the garage workroom with my grandfather. Spending the night with them often. And many, many more memories.
I see my parents being at a bit of a crossroads right now. Are they going to be “grannies” or “grandmas?”
It’s become amazingly clear during this visit that my parents don’t enjoy playing with my kids. They also don’t seem all that interested in making any memories with them.
The other day I asked mom if she would like to get Kiel dressed. Her response? Uh, no, I think I’ll let you do that.
Taking the boys for a walk last night I asked them to come. Their response, a resounding no thanks, we’ll go later. When I commented that I thought they would like to spend time with their grandchildren my mom said “we spend plenty of time with them.”
Go to the zoo with us? NO.
Go to Huckleberry Railroad with us? NO.
Walk down to the beach and playground with us? Noah wants you to see him swing on the rings. NO.
And not once an offer to take them for an hour and give us a break.
When I asked if they would watch them the other evening so we could go out to dinner with my brother and my sister-in-law, my mom’s response was “well, the boys will be tired after a long day, they will just want you, not us.”
Queen of passive aggression is she.
So the question is do I keep trying to make memories for my kids with them? Because not only is it their loss, it’s my children’s loss too.
Visiting my parents is not enjoyable for Rich and me. It’s a long ass drive to start with. Noah never sleeps well if we aren’t at home. Rich ends up sleeping in my brother’s old room with Noah and I sleep in my old room with Kiel. Rich and I don’t ever get to sleep together. Believe me, there is no nookie in my old bed. By the time we go home we are exhausted from lack of sleep and frustrated from trying to keep Noah on his best behavior so my parents don’t give us “the look” or offer us their “parenting wisdom.”
I’m thinking of firing them for a while. Oh, wise internet friends, what do you think?