Wednesday, April 3, 2013

Grandparent wannabes

Looking for some feedback here...does anyone have good advice on how to deal with parents (or in-laws) who want to be grandparents and don't make any secret about it?

This is on my mind because my parents visited over Easter. I have a very good relationship with both of them and in general enjoy their company. I know both of them really want to be grandparents, and (no surprise) I want them to be grandparents too! I wish they were grandparents already, and they could spoil my kid(s) and we could all go to the zoo together and have a lovely three-generational time. But that's not the reality right now.

(I should also note that my only sibling, who is married, is in med school and hasn't given any indication of wanting to have kids any time soon. My parents know that we, on the other hand, are trying and so far failing.)

Lately, my mom has spent a lot of time with one of my cousins, who has 7 children, including one born this January. Before I got married, my mom would make comments like "are you going to end up like M [the cousin] with all those kids?" (My parents aren't Catholic and have some skepticism about the whole not-contracepting game plan.) But now I think the grandparent bug has bit them big time and they (esp. my mom) are like second grands to my cousin's kids. They buy them goodies and take them places and do puzzles with them, etc. - all the things I'm sure they'd like to do with their own grandkids.

I don't mind this, really. My cousin and her husband are grateful, I'm sure! And I don't begrudge them that. But I do get a little annoyed that my mom seems to like giving me a play-by-play of everything she does for my cousin's family. Worse, sometimes she'll move directly from that topic to the topic of my childlessness: "So, what's the latest prognosis for you and Mr. M having children....?" or the like. And that's getting a little old. I get it. My cousin is super-fertile and I'm not. I get that my parents are the next-to-last siblings in my dad's family of 9 to be grandparents, and I'm sure that's tough for them. None of us are getting any younger here.

Boundaries, boundaries, boundaries. I know they are so needed in relationships, even with the people we love the most. Mr. M is of the opinion that I shouldn't share with my mom at all about what we're doing IF-wise because it's too personal. It bugs him that sometimes if my mom and Mr. M are alone, she'll start asking him all the questions about our IF she wants to ask me but doesn't. Triangulation.... I know my mom cares about us, and I do believe she cares more about our health and well-being than about being a grandma. And I generally share a lot with her about my life. I don't mind sharing bits and pieces with her about how we're doing a blood test, or when I had surgery.

But I can't deal emotionally with the thought of her and my dad never being grandparents - it's hard enough to think about the possibility of me and Mr. M not being parents! And it occurred to me that becoming a grandparent is even harder in a way - not only do you have to have your own kids (not a guarunteed thing), but then your kids have to have kids of their own (also not a guarunteed thing - they could discern a religious vocation or have IF, etc.) I think my parents need to deal with their own issues re: grandparent-desire just like I'm dealing with my desire to be a mother.

Anyway, those are my jumbled thoughts. I want to stay close with my mom, and share things with her, but I also don't want to feel like I have to give a monthly account of our IF journey, or add to my own emotional heaviness her sadness at not being a grandma yet. Etc.



  1. Yeah that's tough. We don't share much with our parents only what we feel comfortable with. We share the important stuff like surgery but not the details. I have had conversations with our parents about not telling us everything about other family members' kids. If we wanted to know, we would ask. IF does not just hurt us it hurts our whole family who want to see us be parents too. Praying for you that you know the right boundaries to put in place.

    1. IF really does hurt the whole family... So true.

  2. I don't think any of this will ever be easy nor can anyone be sensitive enough...
    I know that sounds depressing but that is so true for us... It is hard for us to think clearly when everything seems to be filtered through our pain. It is just hard...

    I really don't have any advice other than put all your focus on God. God is the only one who can make a way where their seems no way.

  3. Also...
    What makes me sad about growing older (besides aging, poor health and loss of loved ones over the years...etc) is how I see older people facing depression and comparing because they have no grandchildren or not as many as others... I work with many people of the older generation and there is a lot of pain for those who don't get to love on any grandchildren...


    The older I get, the better heaven looks!!

  4. My DH and I have set rules/expectations that we feel comfortable with. I don't discuss any of his health related issues/tests/medications/etc. with my family, and he is free to share that information with his family. Similarly, he doesn't share anything specific to my body with his family. This is for all medical issues, not just IF. We don't lie or pretend there are no issues, just respect each others' privacy. On shared items (ie, Creighton), exceptions, and with friends, we take it on a case basis and discuss ahead of time. We also have told our respective families that they should not ask the in-law (either me or DH) about IF.

    I've found that for friends and family, that being straightforward helps, "It reminds me of my suffering when you bring [other peoples' kids, my treatments, etc] up, and some days are worse than others for me, would it be okay if we could avoid those topics for awhile? I'll bring them up if I'm feeling okay. IF is a particularly difficult struggle for me right now, I hope you can understand."


  5. My MIL actually reads my blog - and I'm totally OK with it, as is The Man. I totally hit the "in-law" jackpot :), ahem, God blessed me immensely with my in-laws!!!

    Now, my own parents, that's a different story, much too long to go into here. I will say this much, the ONLY thing that has kept me from completely losing it on my own mother is that I know she is hurting from not be a grandma - what she wants more than anything, so much that I don't think she realizes that I am in pain too from not being a mother - and when she is insensitive or nosey I try to remind myself of that, answer as generically as I can and then change the subject. The Man actually deals with her much better than I do, as he is much better at the generic answer and subject-change without it causing his blood to boil!

  6. Sounds like my MIL is in town! :-) She was always asking questions and prying about when, when, when once I told her we were trying. Well, that trying took 6 years. I know she was excited, but also HER mother (who adopted her about age 35) told her how long SHE had to wait to be a mom & to have patience. It is hard to wait ... IF or to be a grandparent. I would maybe ask (or have DH ask) the MIL to back off a little on questions. I had my DH do that to his mom & it worked out rather well.

  7. Thanks for your good advice!

    Kat - I'm thinking that that conversation might be needed ("Please don't tell me everything about everyone else's kids, mom") but I've been avoiding it because it's uncomfortable, and I don't want to give the impression that we don't care about other people's kids

    AM - your words remind me that there's always going to be "something more" that we won't but don't important to be thankful for what we do have

    Amanda - that sounds like good in-law advice in general (sharing only with one's parents)

    Rebecca - I hit the in-law jackpot too, esp. with my MIL! It's so different on that side of the family because my MIL already has 8 grandkids. So there's not the same longing there. And your words about your mom are so thoughtful - it's hard to keep in mind someone else's pain when you have pain of your own.

    AHPT - It's my mom, not my MIL. But my mom sounds like your MIL =) The "back off a little..." conversation seems really important, for everyone's sanity!