Sink or Swim

Tuesday, August 15, 2006

What do you mean it's not all about me...?

OK, it's still mostly about me, but sometimes I forget that there are other people waiting very impatiently for our daughter -- namely, my mother. My father passed away more than nine years ago, although it still seems very fresh. My parents had one of the best marriages I have ever seen, and my mother is not quite whole without him. As a result, having a grandchild has become a bit more important to her than I initially expected. I spent a long time on the phone with her last night. She had a bad week, and she can sink into depression quite easily. Last week when we talked, she was sharing her anger and frustration with me about the adoption. Anger that it is taking so much longer than she thought -- longer than any of us thought. She is 75, and she is heartbroken that she is becoming a grandmother for the first time so late in life. She feels shortchanged, knowing that she will not get to spend as many years with her grandchild as she had hoped, and she won't have as much energy as she'd like. Of course, I am equally angry and frustrated about the delays. And I wish she would be around for all the major milestones of her grandchild's life -- right up to having great-grandchildren. But I know that's not very likely. And I also wish she could be more of a hands-on grandparent than she will probably be able to be, due to her age and some residual pain from foot surgery. The important part for both of us is to remember that we are not angry and frustrated AT anyone, just angry and frustrated. Anyway, last night we had a really positive conversation, expressing our frustrations about the adoption taking so long, but promising that no matter now frustrated and angry we get, we can't direct it at each other. I'm going to visit her this weekend (she lives just an hour away). She was so cheered up at the thought of a visit with me, it made me happy and sad at the same time. The level of responsibility I feel for her is something my husband always supports, but I don't think he fully understands. His parents still have each other, and he is one of the "out-of-town" kids, which does make a difference. As much as I have come to see how difficult it is to be the primary resource/contact/lifeline for an aging parent, I have also come to see what a privilege it is. I feel very bad for my sister (who lives 5 hours from my mother) that she will never have the opportunity I've had to develop a friendship with my mother, or offer the kind of support that I have been able to do since I'm close by and haven't had many other family obligations to juggle. I've realized that in addition to my personal life and my marriage being impacted (for better and sometimes perhaps not for the better) by having a child, I'm also seeing that my relationship with my mother is going to enter a new phase. There will be more depth and bredth to our conversations and visits, but I will also have more demands on my time. My mother has been my best friend other than my husband, and just like it was incredibly difficult for her to adjust to sharing me with my husband, it is going to be another difficult adjustment to share me with a child. I hope she understands that having a grandchild will be wonderful, but her daughter/lifeline/friend might have less time for her. So, I guess it gets back to being about me...


Blogger Emanual said...

Very thoughtful post. I hope you don't mind if I throw in a couple thoughts.

I had a similar (but opposite) conversation with my mom tonight. My sister had a baby (the first in our family) in May. Since then, my sister and I, who are already soooo close we could be twins, have gotten closer yet. My mom feels the same way about her and my sister (they live in the same town). They've really spent some amazing time together since Jaycee was born.

My mom reminded me that she hard a difficult childhood, and that she not only never felt loved by her mother, but quite the opposite. She said that all changed when she had me, and her mom, my Grandma was able to really be there for her and help her and support her and show her love in ways she had never been able to before.

I know your situation is different, but I guess I'm throwing out the idea that when your sweet child (finally!) arrives, maybe things will surprise you. Maybe your mom will rally or be there to support you in a profound way that you didn't expect.

It sounds like you have a very special relationship with your mom. I just know it will get even more special with this new arrival.

8/16/2006 09:07:00 PM  
Blogger Emanual said...

Oh, I reread that, and I realize it didn't come out right! I know you already KNOW it is going to be super special between you and your mom, I was only saying that if your experience is like my families, it will blow you away even more than you expect.

8/16/2006 09:09:00 PM  
Blogger Lee said...


Thanks for sharing, and I'm glad to hear such positive things about your relationships. I do feel that having our daughter will strengthen my relationship with my mom, but I know it will create challenges as well. I'd just give anything for her to be 10 years younger...

I also hope that my relationship with my sister deepens. She and I are not really close. We get along ok, but we just don't have much in common. She's been married for 17 years (I've been married for 6), and she and her husband had no desire to have kids. They seem to enjoy being around kids, and she's bought some cute things already for our daughter. I'm hoping it gives us something to bond over.

Thanks again for your insights. How is the packing going?

8/17/2006 01:26:00 PM  
Blogger Emanual said...

Me too.

Roll the hands back for all of us 10 years.

Ooohhhhhhhhhhhhh. :(

8/17/2006 05:05:00 PM  

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