Friday, October 16, 2009

Win-Win Grandparenting -- by Robin

This is chest x-ray week for our family. I had to get a follow-up to check on my pneumonia, which as it turns out is still not completely more antibiotic for me. And Seth got his first chest x-ray to check out his chronic cough. Thankfully his turned out clean, which means that we need to explore further what might be causing his daily barking (pretty scary sounding).

He's had it for two plus years now, and he's already seen a pulmonary doctor, so we know it's not asthma. His pediatrician is next going to explore acid reflux, I believe, so we'll see where that goes. I would like to get to the bottom of it sooner than later.

This leads me to my topic for the week.....that of grandparent support.

I lost my beloved mom 10 years ago, and my dad (G-d bless him) is 91 and has health challenges. My father-in-law passed away as well, and my mother-in-law (MIL) is in her 80s, and while not perfect, is in general, in decent health (and probably more than decent).

I have always missed that my mom didn't live to see me become a mom, and when I got married, I thought it would be cool to have in-laws who would love and befriend me. I'm not saying that's not the case, but yesterday I was a bit dismayed.

I had planned to take Seth to the local hospital for the x-ray, at the suggestion of his pediatrician. Coincidentally, it happens to be the hospital where my MIL volunteers twice/week. She enjoys helping there and knows a ton of the people. When she heard I was going to take Seth there, she offered to come along. I told her that would be nice and that I'd phone once he came home from school to make sure he was up for it. He had had a bit of an upset stomach earlier in the week.

When he got home, I called her, and to my surprise, she said she'd come but needed to drive separately because she agreed to have dinner at my brother-in-law's house at an early hour. I didn't see how we'd possibly be done at the hospital in time for her to make it there, so I told her to forget it, and that we'd go ourselves.

Afterwards, I felt a heartache I didn't expect. I had welcomed her support, and was suddenly let down. My own mom wouldn't have done that to me if she promised to be a shoulder to lean on. It made me acutely aware of how I miss her and how at the end of the day, the person we can most count on is ourselves. While others in our lives may mean well, they don't always deliver for whatever reason. We have to be strong in our own right, and welcome support if/when it becomes available.

This made me somewhat sad. What was it like years ago when families often lived in communities and were really there for each other? How nice. How reassuring. How convenient.

I find myself jealous of others when I hear their parents are spending time with their child or helping out in some capacity. We don't really have that. And, it's a nice relationship for both the child and grandparent. In my book, it's a win-win.

And, as a mom without a mom, I often find myself welcoming mom figures into my life. In that way, I sometimes feel a bit needy. Though, in this case, I was not the one who invited my MIL to come. She offered. And, when I opened myself up to it, the story changed.

Ultimately, as it turned out, and much to my we got poised to leave for the hospital, my MIL showed up at our doorstep and said she cancelled her dinner plans. I guess she had a change of heart. And, it did mean a lot to me.

I hope all the moms out there who have either in-laws or their own parents available to them, treasure these moments, and the huge source of support and love and wisdom they can offer. What I wouldn't give for that.

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Blogger Cara Meyers said...

Very well said and very powerful. My mother died when I was 19 and then the "care" of my healthy, but older father was placed upon me. Then as he aged, I had to care for him over the course of ten years plus. Then my son came along. I have had a lifetime of caring for others with very little of others caring for me. You do get used to it after decades, but when you could use the support of someone close, the ONLY support, and they can't help out, it does hurt, and you do end up feeling alone...again.

So I agree, mend those petty family differences and try to be there as a family for one another. EVERYONE needs a little help and TLC now and then.

8:23 AM  

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